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Archive for January, 2009

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Columbia University Press on Twitter

Twitter

Columbia University Press is now on Twitter! Follow us as we microblog over at http://twitter.com/ColumbiaUP. We hope to see you there.

Friday, January 30th, 2009

University Press Blog Round-Up

Below is our regular update of interesting posts from fellow university press blogs.

Susan Campbell author of Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism on the Beacon Broadside.

Post-Racial America?, an essay by John Iceland on the University of California Weblog.

Congratulations to Seth Lerer for his nomination for the National Book Critics Circle award in the category of criticism/biography for his book, Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter (University of Chicago Press).

Duke University Press links to an NPR interview with Roger Beebe on the history of music videos.

Washington Post Book World ceases publication — the Harvard University Press blog looks at some of the reactions.

Watching the Obama Inauguration in the Arabian Peninsula . (Illinois Press Book Blog)

Interview with Douglas Edlin, author of Judges and Unjust Laws. (University of Michigan Press blog)

What if We Let Pilots Run Banking?, Trevor Pinch coauthor of Living in a Material World: Economic Sociology and Technology Studies explains on The MIT PressLog.

(more…)

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Siddarth Kara Discusses Sex Trafficking on Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal

In another fascinating interview, Siddarth Kara, author of Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery discusses why sex trafficking is flourishing, explains what steps can be taken to curtail it, and his own experiences talking with former and current sex slaves.

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Obama Reading Recommendations for China

I Love DollarsIt seems as if everyone has reading recommendations for President Obama and earlier this week Pankaj Mishra weighed in on the subject at The China Beat.

One of Mishra’s recommendations was I Love Dollars: And Other Stories of China by Zhu Wen.

Here’s what Mishra wrote:

Notwithstanding the libraries devoted to China in the West today, literary fiction by Chinese writers still offers the most penetrating insight into Chinese society’s self-perceptions, and Obama could enjoyably and profitably spend some of the many hours on the flight to Beijing by reading a few stories in this excellent collection.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Why Israel Has Failed to Stop Terrorism.

Yesterday, we ran an interview with Ami Pedahzur about his new book The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism. In the interview, Pedahzur explores why Israel has failed to stop terrorism despite the amount of resources it has devoted to counterterrorism. Pedahzur argues that the Israeli strategy, based on a “war model,” has often been motivated more by political and psychological goals rather than strategic ones. In considering the recent offensive in the Gaza strip, Pedahzur writes, “This operation, like many Israeli counterterrorism offensives in the past, seems to be driven by the policy makers’ desire to show the terrorized public that they are determined to inflict pain on the enemy.”

In an excerpt from the book, taken from the chapter “Fighting the Terrorism Plague,” Pedahzur expands on his points and lays out some policy recommendations. In place of a “war model’ that emphasizes assassination and other dramatic violent acts, Pedahzur suggests Israel adopts a defensive model that consists of three main stages: prevention, crisis management, and reconstruction. Pedahzur writes,

Over the years, terrorism aimed at Israel has become more aggressive, and the civilian home front has become the front line. The Israeli war model, which has also been replicated in other countries, has not proven to be a success in meeting its goals. In order to effectively contend with terrorism, it is incumbent to transfer the bulk of counter­terrorism activity to alternative models…. Policymakers themselves intensify the fear [of terrorism] by warning the public of the unavoidable revenge. Hence, not only do such assassinations not undermine the capabilities of the various terrorist groups to attack, but they also intensify the terrorists’ desire to prove their viability by amplifying the psychological fear factor. Clear and honest statements by politicians who tell the public that terrorism, despite its horrific outcomes, rarely poses a major threat to the state’s national security would be welcome in that connection. Such statements would reassure the public and undermine the attempts of the terrorists to create a continuous state of fear, chaos, and mistrust of the public in its leaders. Beyond mitigating the psychological impact of terrorism, policy-makers should allocate resources and formulate a defensive model that consists of three main stages: prevention, crisis management, and reconstruction.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

How University Presses Are Surviving the Economic Downturn

In the latest issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jennifer Howard examines how university presses are faring in the grim economic atmosphere—things are not so good but they’re not so bad either. While some presses have had layoffs and dramatic declines in sales, others have only seen slight drops in their sale figures. Moreover, several publishers seem to be finding ways to adapt to changing circumstances without having to cut titles from their lists. Needless to say, everyone is waiting to see how things will play out but judging from the article, no one seems to think it is wise to panic.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Talk to individual press directors and sales managers, however, and it becomes clear that the crisis does not look and feel the same for everyone. Some presses have felt a hard pinch. Several directors use euphemisms like “disappointing” to describe sales figures that are worse than they will acknowledge in public. But others are having decent, even good years, as tightly focused or broadly appealing lists keep them in the black. The best news for authors: So far no press has announced plans to cut back on the number of books it publishes.

Almost all presses, however, are holding their breath about 2009. “I think everybody’s waiting to see how this plays out,” said Peter J. Givler, executive director of the university-press association. In interviews with press personnel, the phrase heard most often was “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Interview with Ami Pedahzur

The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism
The following is an interview with Ami Pedahuzur, author of
The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism.

Q: Have you ever worked for the Mossad or any other intelligence agency?

Ami Pedahzur: No. never. I was a senior medic in the IDF, and there was nothing clandestine or exotic in that.

Q: So what led you to the topic of the Israeli secret services and their struggle against terrorism?

AP: When I was six years old, IDF stunned the world when its elite forces released the Israeli and Jewish Hostages of Air France flight 139, who were being held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Entebbe, Uganda. Like most of the kids of my generation, I idolized the heroic soldiers and started reading whatever I could find about the Israeli struggle against terrorism. I have not stopped since then.

Q: One cannot avoid noting the critical tone in your book. What happened? What made you change your outlook?

AP: Well, after a decade of studying terrorism and especially during the second Intifada with the long campaign of suicide attacks, I started asking myself the following question: If Israel is indeed such a superpower in counterterrorism as it wants the world to believe, why has terrorism against Israelis only intensified and become more deadly over the years?

(more…)

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

University Presses and Fiction in Translation

Earlier this morning, Three Percent listed the finalists for the best translated books of 2008 for fiction and poetry. In the past year or so, Three Percent has established itself as one of the premier sites for reviews, news, and opinion about international fiction, translation, as well as the business of publishing.

In addition to their shortlist, Three Percent also has a post on the Best Translated books published by university presses. The post mentions some of the excellent translations being published by Syracuse University Press, University of Nebraska Press, and Northwestern University Press but holds out special praise for Columbia’s list in Asian fiction:

At the top of the list has to be Columbia University Press. There’s no other university press in the country doing as many interesting Asian works in translation as Columbia. (Not to mention the fact that their books are handsomely designed, and paperback editions of several — such as I Love Dollars — have been picked up by very prestigious presses, like Penguin.)

The two big books that came out this year as part of the Weatherhead Books on Asia series (both of which could’ve easily made our longlist) are Wang Anyi’s The Song of Everlasting Sorrow and Ch’oe Yun’s There a Petal Silently Falls.

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Siddharth Kara at the Carnegie Council and in the Financial Times

Over the weekend, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, by Siddharth Kara was reviewed in the Financial Times.

In the very favorable review, Jonathan Birchall writes:

In India, [Kara] argues a bungalow brothel makes an average of $12,926 on each slave annually, a profit margin of 72 per cent. On the street in a western European city, where the acquisition costs are higher, the estimated profits of $76,180 represent an even bigger 75 per cent margin.

The cold numbers, he argues, show that sex trafficking is more profitable for criminals than drug trafficking – with many of the same overhead costs, such as bribing local policemen and border guards, but far lower risks of getting caught.

Fairer Globalization has an excellent post on Siddharth Kara’s recent talk at the Carnegie Council.

You can watch the entirety of Kara’s appearance here. Below is a highlight from Kara’s talk in which he discusses ways to end the sex trade:

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Seth Lerer Nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award

Congratulations to Seth Lerer on being nominated for an NBCC Award in the category of Criticism for his book, Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter.

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Jameel Jaffer on Rachel Maddow

Jameel Jaffer, coauthor of Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond, was on the Rachel Maddow Show yesterday to discuss the closing of the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

University Press News

It was not the best week for university press publishing with layoffs announced at Oxford University Press and the report from the AAUP about declining sales.

However, and needless to say, great books continue to be published by university presses. As we mentioned earlier in the week, the Seminary Co-op’s Web magazine The Front Table has just launched UPfront, a column devoted to new and forthcoming titles from university presses.

(more…)

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Paul Offit in Huffington Post

Autism's False ProphetsPaul Offit’s article in the Huffington Post has already garnered a lot of attention and responses.

In the post, Offit points to the outbreaks of measles and other diseases that have resulted from parents not vaccinating their children due to fears, not warranted by scientific research, about the link between vaccines and autism. Offit writes:

These outbreaks have not, apparently, been sobering. If anything, the number of parents choosing to delay or withhold or separate vaccines is increasing. So what will it take? Certainly, as more and more children contract measles and pertussis, deaths from these diseases will follow. And it’s not a leap to believe that we could see other deadly diseases, like polio and diphtheria; both of which still occur commonly in some areas of the world; and both of which are only a plane ride away from causing outbreaks in relatively unvaccinated communities in the United States.

We can only hope that parents have not been lulled into a false sense of security by the success of vaccines — or that our inattention to history will not cause us to relive it.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

The End of Black History? — By Robert L. Harris Jr. and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn

The End of Black History

Robert L. Harris Jr. and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn are the co-editors of The Columbia Guide to African American History Since 1939

Some pundits have predicted that Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States spells the end of Black History. That his election as president is the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, the culmination of the civil rights movement, the dawn of a post-racial society, and the demise of multiculturalism. Anyone who really heard Aretha Franklin’s unparalleled rendition of “My Country Tis of Thee,” listened carefully to Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, was touched by Elizabeth Alexander’s poem with echoes of Gwendolyn Brooks and Sterling Brown, or was stirred by the black church cadence of Rev. Joseph Lowery understands that Black History is not dead. It is alive and well and was given new vitality by much of the commentary leading up to the inauguration ceremony.

For the first time, many Americans learned that enslaved Africans were used to build the Capitol in front of which Barack Obama took the oath of office and that their labor helped to build the White House in which his family will live. Moreover, a free African American, Benjamin Banneker, helped to lay out the path of the inaugural parade. An astronomer, mathematician, and almanac maker, Banneker was probably the first black presidential appointee when he was named in 1791 as part of a six-member team to design Washington, D.C. as the nation’s capital.

In elucidating the meaning of American liberty and fundamental beliefs, President Obama explained it was “why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.” But how did we reach the point of electing the first Black President of the United States? When sixty years earlier the nation’s capital was segregated. Those pundits who predict the end of Black History have argued that we must change the African American narrative. That heretofore, the black saga has been a story of victimization, of how African Americans have been wronged by the slave trade, enslavement, segregation, and racial discrimination, which allegedly limited their horizons and their achievement

(more…)

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

David Kang Advises Obama on North Korea

The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) has published a special roundtable in which members of its editorial board offer their expert insights and recommendations on a wide array of topics and issues, including China, North Korea, Japan, Mongolia, economic nationalism, terrorism, energy, S&T, and human rights.

Among those providing advice is David Kang, coauthor of Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies and author of China Rising: Peace, Power, and Order in East Asia.

In his piece, “Give a Little to Get a Lot from North Korea,” David Kang argues, “Some believe that coercion will eventually cause North Korea to capitulate, and that ‘just a little more’ pressure on the regime will force it to submit. Unfortunately, past history reveals that this is unlikely.”

(more…)

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Gastropolis Event

Gastropolis
Contributors to Gastropolis: Food and New York City will be discussing the book and food in New York City at a special event at the National Arts Club on Monday, January 26 at 8:00 pm. The National Arts Club is located at 15 Gramercy Park Park in New York City.

Speakers will include Annie Hauck-Lawson, Jonathan Deutsch, Mark Russ Federman, Annie Lanzillotto, Cara DeSilva, Jan Poppendieck, Jennifer Berg, Joy Santlofer, and Suzanne Wasserman.

For more on the book: listen to an interview with the editors on WFUV’s Cityscape, read a chapter from the book, “Fusion City: From Mt. Olympus to Puerto Rican Lasagna and Beyond,” or test your knowledge of New York City food by taking our quiz!

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Jeffrey Perry on History News Network

On Monday, History News Network published “The Growing Interest in Hubert Harrison,” by Jeffrey Perry, author of Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918.

Perry begins the essay discussing Harrison’s relevance at the dawn of the administration of America’s first Black president, and his place in African American history:

Considered more race conscious than [A. Philip] Randolph and more class conscious than [Marcus] Garvey, Harrison is a key link in the ideological unity of the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement—the labor and civil rights emphasis associated with Randolph and Martin Luther King Jr., and the race and nationalist emphasis associated with Garvey and Malcolm X.

Harrison’s legacy, Perry suggests, can already be seen in Obama:

Obama has already responded positively to two economic struggles that Harrison would have supported: the 240 (mostly Black and Latin) UE workers who sat in at a factory in Chicago and the 4,800 (mostly Black and Latin) workers at Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel, North Carolina, who won a hard-fought, fifteen-year struggle to be represented by the UFCW. Obama is now planning to spend billions of dollars on job creation to counter the deepening economic crisis, and he will hopefully do so with a Harrison-like anti-white-supremacist-antenna and in light of the historical research of scholars like Ira Katznelson (When Affirmative Action Was White) and others who critically depict the discriminatory, white-supremacist shaping of FDR’s “New Deal” programs and policies.

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Marc Lynch’s Four Suggestions for the Obama Administration

Marc Lynch, author of Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today, offers four suggestions to the Obama administration on his blog now hosted on the Foreign Policy Web site:

1. Give the order to begin drawing down forces in Iraq
2. Talk to the Muslim World … and listen
3. Engage on Gaza right away
4. See the whole, not the parts

On point #4, Lynch writes:

Reports suggest that Obama and Clinton will appoint a collection of special envoys to deal with Iran, Arab-Israeli affairs, and other issues. But that model runs a real risk of losing a sense of the inter-connectedness of the issues. For example, dealing with Iraq in its regional context requires serious engagement with Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey and the Gulf. But if the special envoy on Iran isn’t talking to the special envoy on Arab-Israeli relations (with the Syria file), and neither is talking to the Iraq team, then important opportunities will be missed and policy could end up working at cross-purposes. Obama should sit down with all the special envoys and make clear their role in his overarching regional vision. And then the National Security Adviser and the Secretary of State should work closely together to makes sure that the envoys are working off the same playbook with regular, close communication and coordination.

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

UPfront at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore

Lately, the Seminary Co-op Bookstores, located in Chicago, has been receiving a lot of attention as the Obama’s bookstore of choice.

Of course for those interested in scholarly books or books in general, the Seminary Co-op is well-known for being one of the best bookstores in the country, if not the world. Their excellent online magazine, The Front Table has now started a new column, UPfront featuring recent and forthcoming university press titles as selected by press employees. Needless to say, UPfront is sure to become an invaluable resource for those interested in the newest titles from university presses

Columbia University Press titles featured in the February/March edition of UPfront include: The Israeli Secret Service and the Struggle Against Terrorism, by Ami Pedahzur, The Death of the Animal: A Dialogue, by Paola Cavalieri, and Mind in the Balance: Meditation in Science, Buddhism, and Christianity, by Alan B. Wallace.

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Leonard Cassuto Nominated for an Edgar

Hard-Boiled Sentimentality
Congratulations to Leonard Cassuto for his Edgar nomination in the category of Best Critical Work / Biography for Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories. The Edgars are an annual award selected by the Mystery Writers of America and is among the most prestigious awards for mystery writing.

For more on Hard-Boiled Sentimentality you can also read an excerpt from the book or read Cassuto’s blog post on Dexter.