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Archive for October, 2010

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Avner Cohen on Israel Dostrovsky, “last of the nuclear mohicans”

Avner Cohen, The Worst-Kept SecretIn an op-ed published in Ha’aretz, Avner Cohen, author of The Worst-Kept Secret, remembers Israel Dostrovsky, one of the key figures in the development of Israel’s nuclear program, who recently passed away.

Cohen views Dostrovsky, who played various roles in Israel’s defense program from the very beginning, as embodying “Ben-Gurion’s ideal of a Zionist scientist—a researcher who divided his time between science and security.” He helped to get Israel’s nuclear program off the ground in the 1950s and later stepped in to organize the various components of the Dimona program. Cohen writes, “The principles of caution and internal review that [Dostrovsky] established are still, to this day, fundamental elements in the way Israel conducts itself in this realm.”

Cohen concludes the piece by describing his conversations with Dostrovsky about contemporary Israel and the possibility of a nuclear Iran:

It was the lucidity of his thought in particular that intensified the strong sense of sadness, almost depression, that I felt upon hearing his words. He was anxious about the country’s future and fate. At the base of his anxiety was the feeling that it had lost its compass, that it was moving toward self-ruin. It was saddening to realize that someone who had devoted so much of his life to ensure the physical existence of the Zionist homeland seemed to be losing his faith in and assurance of the Zionist project.

We spoke also about Iran’s nuclear plans. Once again, he expressed a deep pessimism. He thought it was very likely that Iran already had a bomb in the basement; at all events, he was convinced Iran could well have had enough fissile material for the preparation of a bomb or two. He also believed that one should treat with gravity the possibility that Iran would use a bomb to destroy the Zionist enterprise. I was amazed to realize just how little faith the person who built Israel’s existential deterrence had in its actual value as a means for preventing destruction.

I couldn’t help but ponder what the true legacy was of this son of giants.

Friday, October 29th, 2010

University Press Roundup

To showcase the richness of university press publishing, every so often we like to highlight interesting and provocative items from other university press blogs. Apologies for those we did not include in this installment (see the blog roll for other press blogs).

The Tuesday Studio features Doonesbury and Garry Trudeau on the Yale University Press blog.

Carolyn de la Pena, author of Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda, asks What’s the diet soda teaching your? on the University of North Carolina Press blog.

The University of Nebraska Press acknowledges October as a great sport month with some reviews of their sports books.

Performance artist Diane Torr is interviewed about her new book Sex Drag and Male Roles: Investigating Gender as Performance on the University of Michigan Press blog.

Stephen Calt, author of Barrelhouse Words: A Blues Dialect Dictionary is remembered on the University of Illinois Press blog.

What University of Chicago Press author used to play in a band with Chevy Chase? (Hint: He’s one of the best film critics working today.)

Joe Matthews and Mark Paul authors of California Crackup talk about the fourth branch of government in California: the proposition system. Via the University of California Press blog.

Bill Gates reads Vaclav Smil on the MIT Press blog.

Editor-in-Chief Susan Wallace Boehmer explains “What’s Changing and What’s Not as HUP Goes Digital,” on the Harvard University Press blog.

Princeton University Press has a great trailer for its forthcoming Michelangelo: A Life on Paper, by Leonard Barkan.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Stalking the Black Swan by Kenneth Posner Wins at the Sharjah International Book Fair

Kenneth Posner, Stalking the Black SwanCongratulations to Kenneth Posner’s whose Stalking the Black Swan: Research and Decision Making in a World of Extreme Volatility won the prize for the best foreign book in business at the Sharjah International Book Fair.

For more on the book browse the book via Google Preview, read the introduction, or watch Kenneth Posner on Tech Ticker.

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Jacqueline Stevens on Democracy Now!

Jacqueline Stevens, author of States Without Nations: Citizenship for Mortals was recently on Democracy Now! to discuss the misconduct of U.S. immigration judges who have more concerned about deportation quotas rather than immigrants’—and citizens’—rights.

Here’s an excerpt from her appearance:

Now, the problem is that the immigration agents are not always accurate in their arrest reports…. The purpose of an immigration hearing is to review whether or not the claims that are being made in the arrest reports are accurate. But instead, the Department of Homeland Security is taking advantage of the discretion afforded them under our law and deporting people through a process that does not require them to appear before an immigration judge…. The vast majority of the immigration judges who review these do not review them carefully, and they just sign these orders by the hundreds. And as Rachel Rosenbloom, a colleague of mine at Northeastern Law School, points out, they are likely also ordering the deportation of US citizens among them.

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Interviews with and talks by James Rodger Fleming, author of “Fixing the Sky”

James Rodger FlemingJames Rodger Fleming, author of Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control, was recently interviewed by both ABC Radio’s Late Night Live as well as New Books in History. In both interviews, Fleming talks about the frequently misguided efforts throughout history to affect the weather.

Marshall Poe from “New Books in History” writes about the book:

In Fleming’s excellent telling, the story is entertaining though a bit sad. It’s sadder still that the weather-controlling con is still being run by seemingly well-intentioned people who claim they can “fix” global warming by means of some outsized, outrageous, and out-of-this-world engineering scheme. Fleming, who both knows the science and has looked at the history, is more than dubious. The only way we can “fix” the sky is to leave it alone and hope for the best.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has also posted a video of Fleming’s recent talk on geoengineering. Fleming critiques recent proposals aimed at “fixing the sky” to help reduce global warming. While such proposals differ from the military uses of geoengineering considered during the Cold War and the Vietnam War, the implications are still troubling.

From the AAAS site:

Fleming said today’s proponents of geoengineering for climate control need to look beyond the technical details of proposals. He argues, as he put it in his book, for “the relevance of history, the foolishness of quick fixes, and the need to follow a ‘middle course’ of expedited moderation in aerial matters, seeking neither to control the sky nor to diminish the importance of the environmental problems we face.”

More on the book: Read the introduction.

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Do You Know Graphic Women? — A Quiz Based on “Graphic Women,” by Hillary Chute

Graphic Women, Hillary ChuteIn Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics, author Hillary L. Chute explores the visual and verbal techniques of five acclaimed female cartoonists: Marjane Satrapi, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Alison Bechdel, Phoebe Gloeckner, and Lynda Barry.

Think you know your graphic women? Put your knowledge to the test with our quiz based on the book.

Click here for the answers.

1. What does Chute choose to label the material she analyzes instead of the standard term graphic novel?
a. graphic story
b. illustrated novel
c. graphic narrative
d. feminist cartoons

2. From what perspective do all of the examined authors at some point write?
a. a child
b. a man
c.. the mother of the narrator
d. a fly on the wall

3. Where does the word cartoon come from?
a. the French word pomme
b. the Italian word cartone
c. the Latin word caveat
d. the Spanish word humoristica


Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

New Book Tuesday and New Additions to CUPOLA

One new book hot off the presses and now available:

Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences
Philip M. Napoli

We’ve also added some new titles to our newly launched Columbia University Press Online Access (CUPOLA), which allows you to buy digital editions of our books and individual chapters:

Twenty-First Century Motherhood: Experience, Identity, Policy Agency
Edited by Andrea O’Reilly

Parental Monitoring of Adolescents: Current Perspectives for Researchers and Practitioners
Edited by Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, James Jaccard, and Patricia Dittus

Transnational Social Work Practice
Edited by Nalini Junko Negi and Rich Furman

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Hillary L. Chute Recommends Five Graphic Narratives

Graphic WomenIn her recently published book Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics, Hillary Chute explores the aesthetics and politics of five acclaimed autobiographical comics by women.

Three of those artists who she writes about in Graphic Women she also mentions in an interview with FiveBooks. More specifically among the five books she cites as some of the best graphic narratives, she recommends Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons, and Love That Bunch, by Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Here’s an excerpt in which she discusses Alison Bechdel’s meticulous redrawing of family documents by hand to re-present the author’s past.

When comics are interesting, they’re a hand-made form. That’s the connection between comics and autobiography. On every page of the comic you have an index of the body of the person making it. I think redrawing all these documents gives her a way of going back into her family history and marking it with her own body. It’s an amazing act of self-possession – taking control of the archives, making a shadow archive, mimicking. It’s very much about being a child – what it’s like being a child relating to parents.

Read some praise for Graphic Women.

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Upcoming Events with Columbia University Press Authors

The following are some events with Columbia University Press authors for this week. For more information on author events:

On Monday, October 25 6:30 pm, Steven Cohen will discuss his book Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War at Network 20/20 (WilmerHale LLC, 399 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022)

Tuesday, October 26th at 6:30 pm: Jonathan Soffer will be joined by Ed Koch at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to discuss Soffer’s new book Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City. (108 Orchard Street, New York, NY)


Friday, October 22nd, 2010

University Press Blog Roundup

To showcase the richness of university press publishing, every so often we like to highlight interesting and provocative items from other university press blogs. Apologies for those we did not include in this installment (see the blog roll for other press blogs).

The authors of Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America’s Classrooms Michael Berkman and Eric Plutzer on Christine O’Donnell and Evolution from the Cambridge University Press blog.

VIDEO: James Green talks about his new books on Brazil from the Duke University Press blog.

Marcus Boon explains why he put a free .pdf of his new book online for free from the Harvard University Press blog.

United Nations ebook collection added to IU Press Online from the Indiana University Press blog.

The paranormal beliefs of religions from the New York University Press blog.

How to arrest a spiral of cynicism from the Oxford University Press blog.

Interview with Tom Tyler author of Why People Cooperate: The Role of Social Motivations on the Princeton University Press blog.

Steve Almond interviews his mother about maternal ambivalence on the University of California Press blog.

Ari Up, lead singer for The Slits is remembered by the University of Chicago Press blog

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Video for Seth Stein’s Disaster Deferred

See below for a video for Seth Stein’s new book, Disaster Deferred: How New Science Is Changing our View of Earthquake Hazards in the Midwest.

For more on the book, you can also read an interview with the author, browse the book using Google Preview, or visit Seth Stein’s Web site.

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Award Winner! Triumph of Order Wins the Kenneth Jackson Book Award

The Triumph Of Order: Democracy and Public Space in New York and London, by Lisa Keller has been selected as a co-recipient of the Kenneth Jackson Book Award.

Congratulations to Lisa Keller. For more on the book browse the book using Google Preview, read blog posts by Lisa Keller, or read the book’s introduction.

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Announcing Columbia University Press Online Access (CUPOLA)


We are very excited to announce the launch of Columbia University Press Online Access (CUPOLA).

CUPOLA provides quick and easy access to full-text e-books and chapters of CUP’s award-winning academic and trade publications.

CUPOLA allows users to search the full text of books or chapters and link to individual pages for future reference. CUPOLA also offers free access to selected chapters, notes, references, and indexes. Flexible and variable purchase options let you decide how CUPOLA will work best for you and allow you to download e-books or chapters to your computer or view them on your e-reader.

CUPOLA is now offering access to more than sixty titles in Social Work and Business and Economics. In the coming months, we will be adding more titles in these fields and from other subject areas as well.

Some titles currently available include:

The Matthew Effect: How Advantage Begets Further Advantage
Daniel Rigney

Escaping the Resource Curse
Edited by Macartan Humphreys, Jeffrey D. Sachs, and Joseph Stiglitz

Social Work Practice Research for the Twenty-First Century
Anne Fortune, Philip McCallion, and Katherine Briar-Lawson

More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places
Michael Mauboussin

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Save 30% on Social Work Titles

We are pleased to announced a special sale for Social Work titles. Save 30% on dozens of Social Work titles.

Click here for a full list of titles on sale and for more details.

To save 30%, add the book(s) to your shopping cart, and enter code CSWE in the “Redeem Coupon” field at check out. Click on the “redeem coupon” button and your savings will be calculated. (Prices below are the discounted price but you must enter the code to receive the special price.)

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Award Winner! Ted Striphas for “The Late Age of Print”

The Late Age of PrintCongratulations to Ted Striphas, whose Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control recently won the 2010 Outstanding Book Award from the National Communication Association’s Critical Cultural Studies Division.

For more on the book read an excerpt | Visit the blog The Late Age of Print | Watch a video for the book.

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Rorty, Graphic Women & Beautiful Circuits — New Book Tuesday

Graphic WomenHere are some new books that are hot off the presses and now available:

An Ethics for Today: Finding Common Ground Between Philosophy and Religion
Richard Rorty

Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics
Hillary Chute

Beautiful Circuits: Modernism and the Mediated Life
Mark Goble

Classical Arabic Stories: An Anthology
Edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi

After Pluralism: Reimagining Religious Engagement
Edited by Courtney Bender and Pamela E. Klassen

Economy, Difference, Empire: Social Ethics for Social Justice
Gary Dorrien

Mobilizing the Community for Better Health: What the Rest of America Can Learn from Northern Manhattan
Edited by Allan Formicola and Lourdes Hernandez-Cordero

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Why Study the History of Political Thought? — A Post by Dick Howard

Dick Howard, Primacy of the PoliticalThe following is a guest post by Dick Howard, author of The Primacy of the Political: A History of Political Thought from the Greeks to the French and American Revolutions. Read an excerpt from the book.

This book is the result of decades of teaching many hundreds of undergraduates, and also of learning from them, especially from their questions, doubts and demands to explain what is really important.

Why Study the History of Political Thought? Three concrete reasons can be named, each reinforcing the other. All are relevant to students of political history, both those in University courses and to the person who wants to understand contemporary political movements such as the American tea party.

1) The first is the fall of the Berlin Wall. The decade leading up to the end of the Cold War was marked by a remarkable period of activity by “civil society” that helped to undermine the totalitarian state. Many observers expected that this momentous event would signal the birth of new forms of democracy arising from the anti-totalitarian opposition. Personally, I expressed my optimism in books and articles (culminating in The Specter of Democracy, 2002) that these movements of civil society would also affect western perceptions of politics. But rather than a new conception of democratic politics, a new form of antipolitics has replaced the old Cold War with an irenic vision of a globalized economic capitalism.


Monday, October 18th, 2010

Jonathan Soffer discusses “Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City” on The Brian Lehrer Show

On Friday, Jonathan Soffer discussed his book Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York City.

In the interview, Soffer talks about how Koch managed the city during a time of severe budget constraints and presidential administrations (Carter and Reagan) that were largely hostile to urban America. Despite his critiques of Koch’s administration, Soffer argues that Koch set up a lot of the structures and policies that allowed New York City to prosper in the 1990s. Koch rebuilt financial confidence in New York City, rehabilitated some of the housing in the worst areas of the city, and put into place a 10-year housing project that continues to have an impact.

* Jonathan Soffer will be in conversation with Ed Koch tonight at 8:15 at the 92nd Street Y.

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Edward Hess offers some stark lessons from the Dell fraud case

Edward HessIn an op-ed in Forbes, Edward Hess, author of Smart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth, examines the recent agreement made between Dell and the SEC. For their failure to disclose information and their use of fraudulent account, the company was forced to pay $100 million and Michael Dell himself was fined $4 million.

For Hess, the Dell case once again,

illustrates the perverse short-term view prevalent on Wall Street that dictates that growth must occur continuously, smoothly and linearly every quarter….There is no empirical basis in any science or in business reality for that “rule.” In fact, companies that grow for more than four consecutive years without resorting to earnings games are the exception, not the rule.

This emphasis on growth and quarterly earnings is what drives bad corporate behavior. Will the $4 million fine levied against Michael Dell deter others from doing the same as some observers have suggested? Hess thinks not. Given the amount the Michael has Dell earned, which is estimated at $450 million, $4 million or 1% of his earnings might not be an effective deterrent. Hess writes:

How effective is the risk of a 1% fine in deterring CEOs from creating non-authentic earnings to keep their companies healthy in Wall Street’s eyes? In my opinion, not very effective at all. In fact, compare the fine Michael Dell received to the income he earned based on stock options gains, and it would seem there is actually an upside for a CEO to play earnings games in order to make their businesses look good to Wall Street.

For more on the book: read an excerpt | browse the book via Google Preview | Watch a video of Edward Hess discussing the book.

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

New York Times review Avner Cohen’s The Worst-Kept Secret

Avner CohenIn the conclusion of his review in the New York Times, Ethan Bronner calls The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb, “thoughtful, measured and deep, and very much worthy of wide consideration.”

Bronner praises Avner Cohen for his analysis of Israel’s nuclear program as well for the ways in which it affects Israel society. Cohen, who supported Israel’s decision to develop a bomb as well as its policy of not admitting to having nuclear weapons, now views it is a hindrance. Bronner writes:

Mr. Cohen delves deeply into the Israeli psyche as he analyzes — and debates — the reign of nuclear ambiguity. He argues that the bomb represents for the Jewish people the link between shoah and tekumah, that is between the Nazi holocaust and national revival through the creation of the State of Israel. Nuclear weapons are the embodiment of “never again,” Israel’s unofficial motto.

Mr. Cohen views the development of the bomb as wise and considers the early years of opacity successful. But he says it’s time for a new policy. The current level of secrecy is a betrayal of Israel’s democratic values, he argues, and in a world faced with Iran’s profession of peaceful purpose for its nuclear program, Israel’s honesty and reliability should not be open to question.

For more on the book, you can read its epilogue or browse the book via Google Preview.