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Archive for October, 2014

Friday, October 31st, 2014

University Press Roundup: Halloween Edition

Welcome to our Friday roundup of this week’s spookiest university press blog posts. As usual, feel free to stop by the comments if there’s anything you find particularly ghoulish!

We begin by embracing John Hopkins University Press’s call for a “Return of the Scary.” As part of an ongoing blog series that discusses current trends in poetry and literature, author Jerry Griswold observes that in recent years, children’s literature and media have perhaps been de-fanged. Recalling recent explorations of horror aimed at young audiences, such as Shrek or Monsters, Inc., it may be difficult to contextualize the success of Tim Burton’s twisted imaginings, or even the Gothic styling of Lemony Snicket. But rest assured, Griswold argues–despite our fond memories of sweeter childhood fairy tales–what we’re seeing is instead a return to the morbidity that has always characterized children’s stories. Just remember what happened to poor Ichabod Crane.

Speaking of horror in literature, Cambridge University Press author Andrew McCann touches on the popular idea of consciousness (or the partial surrender of consciousness) as relating to authorship and the occult. That is, for some the creative process remains a mystery even to the creators themselves, where origins of artistic expression seem to defy rational explanation and are instead credited to external–sometimes paranormal–means of inception and transmittance.

And who, if anyone, might embody the archetypal writer driven by some force beyond rationality, if not Poe? Kevin J. Hayes, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allen Poe and Edgar Allen Poe in Context, discusses the literary grotesqueries of Poe’s legacy and his associations in American culture with Halloween. But Poe’s no one-trick pony, asserts Hayes–the godfather of Goth also invented the detective story, experimented with science fiction, and could counterbalance the truly shocking with humor. “So, read some Poe this Halloween for a good scare. Read Poe the rest of the year for fascinating insights into his world—and ours.”

Apparently the University Press of Mississippi has Film Friday (!), and this one, of course, happens to fall on Halloween. So “what’s even scarier than watching a horror movie?”, they ask. Reading about them! As the press has recently begun growing its Film Studies list to include horror, we encourage readers and film buffs alike to take a look at some of their featured books here.

And lastly, we’d like to briefly join our university press friends in presenting some Halloween-appropriate academic texts. Fordham University Press today features Scare Tactics: Supernatural Fiction by American Women, which looks at the rise of “disturbing and uncanny tales” from American women authors between the Civil War and the 1930s.

McGill-Queen’s University Press features today Children into Swans: Fairy Tales and the Pagan Imagination, which examines the underlying religious, pagan, mythological, and cultural beliefs and anxieties that present themselves as common motifs in fairy tales. Sweeping across a broad scope of Western literature–from pre-Christian European folk literature to the nineteenth century–author Jan Beveridge offers a compelling insight into “some of the most extraordinary worlds ever portrayed in literature.”

That’s it for this week’s university press roundup. Happy Halloween, everyone, and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Preface to Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia

Losing Tim, Paul Gionfriddo

“But I think [Tim] under­stood that if his story could help change the way we think and move us to action, it was worth telling. Plus, he loves me, and I love him.”—Paul Gionfriddo

We conclude our week-long feature on Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia, with an excerpt from the book’s preface in which Paul Gionfriddo discusses why he decided to write about his son. For more of the book you can also read the book’s first chapter, Tim Brings a Gun to School.

When my son Tim was a very young boy, he knew that I was an elected official, and he understood that elected officials made many of the “rules” by which people live. “My dad is important,” he used to volunteer to people when we were introduced to them. The prob­lem was that he pronounced the word as “impotent,” which typically elicited a giggle that puzzled Tim. Giggles aside, he had no idea how apt a description that would become when it came to my helping to make his own life more tolerable.

This book is in part a reflection on public policy and the way public policy decisions I made in good faith affected Tim’s life….

As i imagine is the case for most parents of children with serious chronic illnesses, in the course of over two decades I amassed hundreds of hard-copy and electronic documents relating to tim. they traveled with me from Connecticut to Texas and then to Florida. I saved all that I could, although there were plenty of times I wanted to burn the whole pile of paper or smash the computer in frustration. but after twenty years of storing them I decided it was time to make sense of them. So I began to do what I had been wanting to do for a long time— piece them into a narrative. I had no idea what the ending would be. I just wanted to understand better what had happened to Tim and me as we traveled his path of serious mental illness.

This book is the result. At first, it was all about Tim and not at all about me. But then i realized that I needed to describe better how iI felt about what was happening to Tim. When I started to do this, it dawned on me that I also needed to write more about the role I played as a policy maker in determining what happened to him….

Tim did something i found to be very courageous. He graciously gave his permission in writ­ing for his story to be told. when he did so, I don’t think that he ad­mired policy makers as he once had or had much respect for the rules they’ve created that affected him most directly. But I think he under­stood that if his story could help change the way we think and move us to action, it was worth telling. Plus, he loves me, and I love him.


Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Paul Gionfriddo — “The Dangers of Stage 4 Thinking about Serious Mental Illnesses”

Losing Tim

“Until we take a different approach and move upstream in the disease process, we’re going to continue to put our resources in all the wrong places, and we’re going to continue to fight about all the wrong things. And people will still cycle between homelessness and hospitalization, outpatient treatment and incarceration, and crisis and stability.”—Paul Gionfriddo

The following is a post by Paul Gionfriddo, President/CEO of Mental Health America and the author of Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia, originally published on Mental Health America. In the post, Gionfriddo argues for the importance of early detection and treatment of mental illness:

During my first hundred days at Mental Health America, I have frequently made the case that mental health policymakers and practitioners are too often mired in “Stage 4” thinking when they think about serious mental illnesses.

Here’s what I mean—they use an “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for determining who gets care. That near-death time typically only comes during the latest stages of a chronic disease process, or Stage 4.

There are several dangers in using such a standard. The first is that it furthers the myth that mental illness causes violence. The second is that it leads to the over-incarceration of people with mental illnesses. The third – and perhaps most dangerous – is that it deflects our attention away from intervening early in the disease process, when we can do the most good and get the best results.

We don’t treat any other chronic diseases this way. Imagine the outcry if we waited until Stage 4 to treat cancers, cardiovascular diseases, or diabetes!

I haven’t come across anyone who thinks there’s a clinical basis for using the “imminent danger to self or others standard” to determine eligibility for care. But this hasn’t stopped us from using it for decades.

Until we take a different approach and move upstream in the disease process, we’re going to continue to put our resources in all the wrong places, and we’re going to continue to fight about all the wrong things. And people will still cycle between homelessness and hospitalization, outpatient treatment and incarceration, and crisis and stability.

At Mental Health America, we believe that it is past time for investing heavily in early identification and intervention. That’s one of the reasons we launched a new mental health screening program this year, with screening tools available on our website or at www.mhascreening.org.

And we’re pretty sure that people agree with us. After all, in just four months, the first 100,000 screens will have been taken, typically by people who are experiencing early symptoms of what may become over time severe depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.

They’re concerned about their mental health now, and so are we.

And they don’t want to wait ten years or more, and be forced to progress to Stage 4, for everyone else to take notice.

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Thursday Fiction Corner: Haïlji and The Republic of Užupis

In a post from earlier this year we featured the recently launched Library of Korean Literature Series, published by Dalkey Archive Press. Next week, Dalkey and the Korean Cultural Centre UK are having a big, two-event launch party on November 4th and 5th, with Haïlji, author of The Republic of Užupis.

On the 4th, there will be a book launch with Hailji; John O’Brien, CEO of Dalkey Archive Press; and Richard Lea, a writer from The Guardian. On the 5th, there will be a discussion and screening of The Road to Racetrack, based on the Haïlji’s controversial novel of the same name.

For more on Haïlji’s work and books from the library, here is a sampler that includes excerpts from the initial books from the series:

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Lawrence Cunningham Discusses “Berkshire Beyond Buffett” at Google

In the following video from his talk at Google, Lawrence Cunningham’s discusses his new book Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values:

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Losing Tim, Losing Time — Paul Gionfriddo

Losing Tim, Paul Gionfriddo

“We created a system that neglected our children when we could have made a difference and inevitably led them to homelessness, hospitalization, and incarceration.”—Paul Gionfriddo

The following post is by Paul Gionfriddo, author of Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia. For more on the book, you can also read an interview with Paul Gionfriddo.

I’d like to travel back in time. Just twenty-five years would do. Because if I knew then what I know now, I don’t think I would ever have to have written Losing Tim.

Because public policy matters in the lives of people like Tim.

I’m sure this won’t come as a shock to anyone, but policymaking isn’t a perfect science. As I write in Losing Tim, a very wise Connecticut legislator—a college professor by trade—once remarked that when she arrived in the state legislature, she assumed that the best proposals coupled with the best-reasoned arguments would lead to good public policy. Then the legislative session began, and she learned that gut feelings and emotion often carried the day, and the policy that resulted was as much a reflection of these as it was of logic and reason.

Imagine what this did in the area of mental health. We were faced with a huge challenge in the 1980s. We were closing the doors of expensive and ineffective institutions, and were returning thousands of people to their families and communities.

But their families and communities weren’t ready to receive them. This was in part because they were afraid of the way they looked and acted, and in part because they didn’t really know what to do for them. Still, I write, we believed that anything that happened to people in the community would be preferable to what had happened to them behind the locked doors of those large psychiatric facilities.

Except that it wasn’t, because we just moved folks from behind one set of locked doors—state psychiatric hospitals—to another—county jails and state and federal prisons.

This was not our intention, but we didn’t know any better.


Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

An Evening with Herve This and Note-By-Note Cooking

Herve This and Adam Gopnik discuss

Hervé This is in town this week, so for those who couldn’t make it to his various events, here’s an account of his recent appearance at the Columbia Maison Française to discuss Note-by-Note Cooking: The Future of Food. And you can still catch him later today at the Institute of Culinary Education

“Molecular cooking is over—it’s for grandfathers!” Hervé This exclaimed on Monday night at the Maison Française on the Columbia University campus. This is in town this week to promote his new book, Note-by-Note Cooking: The Future of Food, published by Columbia University Press. The event was moderated by Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker, who started out the night by declaring that even the Cronut™ isn’t revolutionary in the face of note-by-note cooking.

Hervé This introduced his novel concept by describing a carrot as a sum of its constituent parts—water, cellulose, aminos, minerals—and asked that the audience begin to think of these components as similar to the notes of a song. He claims we can cook food just as a musician writes a melody on a synthesizer (the end result could fall anywhere between Jingle Bells and Rachmaninoff, a candy bar or a truffle sauce). Note-by-note cooking, therefore, is about building, not deconstructing food. This implored the audience to “forget about the word natural” as no cooked food is natural (think of a French fry in relation to a wild potato). Instead we must value the artificial for its inherent “art” and recognize that there will be both good art and bad art.

The audience was clearly entranced by the idea, but everyone wondered how to do it? Hervé answered by describing a typical weeknight dinner he cooks for his family: a tough cut of meat braised for many hours in a low oven with a few drops of truffle compound for a sauce. (He sometimes adds a drop or two of syrah compound to make a red wine reduction.) Even though the compounds have been highly processed, the terroir of the mushrooms and the grapes still comes through and “makes his family smile.” He described the note-by-note kitchen of the future as one full of beautiful lacquered boxes with maybe 10 aminos, 20 pungencies, 30 colors…in addition to bags of flour and jars of paprika.


Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

An Interview with Paul Gionfriddo, author of “Losing Tim”

Losing Tim, Paul GionfriddoThe following is an interview with Paul Gionfriddo, author of Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia:

Question: Losing Tim is a policy memoir, a reflection on your life as much as Tim’s. Can you talk about that?

Paul Gionfriddo: I was a state legislator in the 1980s, and helped build the failed community-based mental health system that we have today. Then I adopted an infant son who developed a serious mental illness when he was very young and had to live within the system I helped to build. And so over more than two decades, I experienced the effect of our policy decisions from the other side. And through writing the book, I’ve had the opportunity to make some sense of what we went through, and to say how we could do things differently to fix the problems we policymakers unintentionally created—and perhaps save some lives.

Q: But aren’t our options pretty limited when it comes to treating people with serious mental illnesses?

PG: Some people think so, but that’s usually because they only see serious mental illnesses in their later stages and think they are synonymous with violent tendencies. This is a myth that has led us to making jails our 21st century mental health institutions. The truth is that ten years typically pass from the time there are early symptoms of mental illnesses to the time we begin to treat them effectively. Those are ten years of lost opportunities to intervene early with the right diagnosis, the right drugs, the right therapies, and the right individual, family, and social supports—all of which can lead to recovery.


Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

New Book Tuesday: Shanghai Homes, The Domestication of Language, and More!

Shanghai Homes, Jie LiOur weekly listing of new titles:

Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Life
Jie Li

The Domestication of Language: Cultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal
Daniel Cloud

Masks of Conquest, Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition: Literary Study and British Rule in India
Gauri Viswanathan

China’s Uncertain Future (Now available in paper)
Jean-Luc Domenach; Translated by George Holoch Jr.

The Economists’ Voice 2.0: The Financial Crisis, Health Care Reform, and More (Now available in paper)
Edited by Aaron S. Edlin and Joseph E. Stiglitz

Be Sand, Not Oil: The Life and Work of Amos Vogel
Edited by Paul Cronin

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Book Giveaway: Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia

This week our featured book is Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia by Paul Gionfriddo.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Losing Tim to one winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, October 31 at 1:00 pm.

Paul Gionfriddo’s son Tim is one of the “6 percent”—an American with serious mental illness. He is also one of the half million homeless people with serious mental illnesses in desperate need of help yet underserved or ignored by our health and social-service systems.

In this moving, detailed, clear-eyed exposé, Gionfriddo describes how Tim and others like him come to live on the street. Gionfriddo takes stock of the numerous injustices that kept his son from realizing his potential from the time Tim first began to show symptoms of schizophrenia to the inadequate educational supports he received growing up, his isolation from family and friends, and his frequent encounters with the juvenile justice system and, later, the adult criminal-justice system and its substandard mental health care.

You can also read the chapter “Tim Brings a Gun to School”:

Friday, October 24th, 2014

B*E*R*K*S*H*I*R*E — The Values of Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathway

The following is a post by Lawrence Cunningham, author of Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values:

Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values tells the stories of Berkshire’s 50 significant direct subsidiaries, which define the company today, representing 80 percent of its value.

As I examined each, through archival research plus interviews and surveys, a pattern emerged: the same traits began to appear repeatedly, nine altogether. These intangible traits translate into financial gain. They also secure the company’s future, hence the book’s sub-title: The Enduring Value of Values.

Those nine values define the book’s central chapters, each chapter telling the stories of four or five subsidiaries that exemplify given values. After I organized and wrote the book, I played around with the nomenclature to form an acrostic from these values that spells out the company’s first name, as seen below, which also captures the essence of each and notes an illustrative subsidiary. The book then weaves these stories and values together to reflect what amounts to a profound succession plan.


Essence: A penny saved is a nickel earned
Illustration: GEICO

Essence: The value in promise keeping
Illustration: Gen Re

Essence: Results benefit from reputation
Illustration: Clayton Homes

Essence: Wealth can last more than 3 generations when families value identity and legacy
Illustration: Ben Bridge Jeweler

Essence: To the entrepreneur go the spoils
Illustration: Dairy Queen

Essence: Delegate everything but reputation
Illustration: Pampered Chef

Investor savvy
Essence: Price is paid, values are exchanged
Illustration: BH Energy

Essence: Impossible dreams are impossible, so stick to your knitting
Illustration: Fruit of the Loom

Essence: Berkshire as a permanent home, a Boys Town for the corporate homeless
Illustration: Brooks Running Shoe

Friday, October 24th, 2014

University Press Blog Roundup: From Antarctic Cuisine to Zombies

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our roundup of posts from the world of university press blogs:

Jefferey A. Krames discusses his new book Lead with Humility: Lessons from Pope Francis. (AMACOM Books Blog)

Michael Patrick McDonald, author of All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, on Whitey Bulger, Boston Busing, and Southie’s Lost Generation. (Beacon Press)

The University of California Press announces plans to roll out two open access products. (University of California Press)

… And another university press announces the creation of a unit dedicated to Open Access publishing. (Cambridge University Press)

Meanwhile, Matthew Cockerill asks has open access failed? (Oxford University Press)

The Carrot and the Candy Bar, an excerpt from Packaged Pleasures: How Technology and Marketing Revolutionized Desire, by Gary Cross and Robert N. Proctor. (The University of Chicago Press)

An interview with the new editors of French Historical Studies. (Duke University Press)

Why wait? A holiday gift guide. (University Press of Florida)

A symposium on the future of publishing in the humanities and social sciences. (Georgetown University Press)

An appreciation of the monarch butterfly and restoring the monarchy to Cabin John. (Island Press)

Zombie Week will include Edward Comentale and Aaron Jaffe discussing The Year’s Work at the Zombie Research Center. (Indiana University Press)


Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

What Will Happen to Berkshire afer the Buffett Era? — Lawrence Cunningham

“What will enable the great company to endure beyond the Warren Buffett era, is Berkshire’s corporate culture.”—Lawrence Cunningham

Berkshire Beyond BuffettThe following post is by Lawrence Cunningham, author of Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values.

What will happen to Berkshire Hathaway after the Warren Buffett era? The answer to that multi-billion dollar question lies in my book, Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values, which lays out in detail Berkshire’s five-pronged succession plan with all its nuances and complexities. Here is a thumbnail sketch.

At most companies, succession planning focuses on grooming a senior manager who can assume the role of chief executive. Today you hear about who should succeed Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan and 15 years ago about who should succeed Jack Welch at General Electric. The personnel aspects of Berkshire’s succession plan are a bit more involved—although, despite enormous attention, they are also the least significant parts of its plan.

Buffett’s management roles will be divided into an executive function (CEO) and an investment function (CIO). The next CEO will come from among existing Berkshire executives, probably one of its 50 significant subsidiaries. This successor will get responsibility for Berkshire’s acquisitions and allocating capital. Chapter 9 of the book shows how many Berkshire managers excel in these areas, providing a wealth of managerial talent.

The second function is handling investments. Berkshire hired two people in the past half-decade—Ted Weschler and Todd Combs—for that job. They’ll face challenges ahead, including tough choices about when to sell big stakes and what to do with the proceeds. While still important, the investment side of Berkshire has greatly declined in significance in recent years, now representing only about 20 percent of its value.

Third, for board chairman, Buffett says he’d propose a member of his family, widely assumed to be Howard, his eldest son. That job would be to sustain the cultural heritage I outline in Berkshire Beyond Buffett. In an interview for the book, Howard noted that Berkshire is his father’s life’s work, and sustaining the legacy is vital to him.


Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Richard Betts on the Failures and Future of U.S. Military Actions

“The United States needs to temper the ambitions unleashed by its post–Cold War dominance, not only in reaction to the setbacks it has experienced in small wars but also to prepare for bigger wars for bigger stakes against bigger powers.”—Richard K. Betts

Richard Betts, American ForceIn a recent article in Foreign Affairs, Richard K. Betts, author of American Force: Dangers, Delusions, and Dilemmas in National Security, examines America’s era of permanent war and what lays ahead. Citing the mixed success, if not failure, of American intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, Betts argues that the United States need to think through its strategies before committing to military action. More specifically, he suggests that half-measures tend to fail as in the case of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Obama’s surge in Afghanistan when he committed 30,000 troops instead of the 40,000 requested by the Pentagon. The United States has also become too reliant on air power, which rarely works when used without a deployment of ground troops. Finally, the U.S. has found itself working with unstable governments, who are unwilling to do what the United States wants and often can barely survive once American troops have left. Betts writes:

[The] United States should fight wars less frequently but more decisively, erring, when combat is necessary, on the side of committing too many forces rather than too few. Second, the country should avoid fighting in places where victory depends on controlling the politics of chaotic countries, since local politicians will rarely do what Americans want when that differs from their own aims. And third, Washington should give priority to first-order challenges, focusing its military planning on fighting wars with great powers and focusing its diplomacy on preventing them.


Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Lawrence Cunningham — Warren Buffett and Tom Murphy on Management

“Although Berkshire is one of the world’s largest and most famous corporations, few people understand it as an institution that will be Buffett’s legacy.”—Lawrence Cunningham

Lawrence Cunningham, Berkshire Beyond Buffett

The following post is by Lawrence Cunningham, author of Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values. For more on the book you can also read an interview with Lawrence Cunningham.

While everyone knows that Warren Buffett modeled himself after Ben Graham as a stock picker, few know that as a manager, he modeled himself after Tom Murphy.

Murphy is the legendary executive whose skillful acquisitions and leadership resulted in the Capital Cities communications empire. In 1985, he engineered the acquisition of ABC, Inc. for $3.5 billion, among the largest takeovers of the time, and a decade later facilitated its acquisition by Walt Disney Co. for $19 billion.

When I asked Buffett who should write the foreword to Berkshire Beyond Buffett, he immediately suggested Murphy. Warren, an early investor in Capital Cities who later asked Murphy to join Berkshire’s board, explained that “everything I know about management I learned from Tom.”

Judging by Berkshire’s operational success over several decades, Buffett clearly knows a lot about management. Reading Murphy’s foreword together with my book, it’s clear that the management principles Murphy exemplifies animate Berkshire as well. Among those principles, three stand as bulwarks against skepticism of Berkshire’s size, governance, and durability: a commitment to permanence dismisses calls for Berkshire to shrink by divesting some businesses; a belief in autonomy explains its unusual approach to internal control; and a savvy acquisitiveness proves the track record of its deep managerial bench that will sustain its future.

Permanence: Observers ask whether it might be desirable to divide Berkshire’s 50+ direct subsidiaries into multiple corporations or spin-off certain businesses. Some argue that size is an albatross that limits growth and that vastness is a veil that obscures the real value of many subsidiaries. See’s Candies, for instance, would fetch billions if auctioned to Hershey or Nestlé, but Berkshire’s stock market price might not register such value.

The answers to petitions to shrink or break-up Berkshire are an emphatic no and no. Doing so would undermine two sources of value contributed by the bedrock principle of permanence. First, permanence elongates managerial time horizons to enable increasing long-term value in excess of short-term gain. Second, the promise of permanence offered when acquiring new businesses enables Berkshire to pay a cash price less than business value. Divisions and divestitures are antithetical to both sources of value.


Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Interview with Andrew Nathan on the Hong Kong Protests

“The protests reveal that Hong Kong young people are much more pro-democracy than we had any way of knowing. It’s fascinating to see the youth, who have grown up under this system, demonstrate how little they believe in the Chinese government.”—Andrew Nathan

China's Search for Security, Andrew NathanIn the following interview, originally published in Columbia News on October 8, Andrew Nathan looks at recent events in Hong Kong and the possible future of the protest movement there. Andrew Nathan’s China’s Search for Security, co-authored with Andrew Scobell, is now out in paperback:

Q: What is at the root of the Occupy Central demonstrations?

Andrew Nathan: When China took over Hong Kong in 1997, it agreed that Hong Kong could preserve its way of life for 50 years. The Chinese government also agreed to provide universal suffrage for the election of the Hong Kong chief executive at some point. China recently announced that in the next election, which will take place in 2017, all eligible voters will be able to vote. But it turns out that the nominees for the post will be chosen by an election committee appointed by the Chinese government. The people in Hong Kong had expected real democracy. The Occupy Central protests are the result.

Q: Is there any chance the demonstrators will prevail?

AN: Most of us have long believed that most of the Hong Kong population is pragmatic and passive, because they know what they’re up against with China and they can’t afford to be terribly political. As soon as the Chinese government decision was announced the students—many in high school—jumped in and they were ahead of the adult leadership who had been planning a protest. But it’s very unlikely Beijing will yield on the core question. China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, has an image of being tough and inflexible. And China has a lot at stake in keeping control of the situation in Hong Kong. The more they sense opposition there, the less they are likely to allow democracy.


Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Interview with Lawrence Cunningham, author of Berkshire Beyond Buffett

“Berkshire practices a philosophy of capitalism that does well by doing good, is sensitive but unsentimental, lofty yet pragmatic, and public-spirited but profitable.”—Lawrence Cunningham

Lawrence Cunningham, Berkshire Beyond Buffett

Question: What inspired you to write this book and what are some of its key implications?

Lawrence Cunningham: People have been asking for 20 years what happens to Berkshire Hathaway if Warren Buffett gets hit by the proverbial bus; the question now has added urgency since the billionaire businessman is 84. The popular answer became paradoxical: Buffett tried to build an enduring institution at Berkshire and yet even great admirers doubt that the company can survive without him. My book demonstrates how Berkshire’s corporate culture is designed to make the company outlast any one person, making the culture part of its succession plan.

Q: How did you research this book and what did your research reveal?

LC: Background research dates to the 1990s when I published The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, based on a symposium with Buffett and Berkshire vice chairman, Charlie Munger. In that era, Berkshire looked like a mutual fund, primarily owning stocks. Today, the company is instead defined by its 50+ wholly owned businesses and so my immediate research focused on them. In addition to traditional archival material, I interviewed, with Buffett’s permission, many Berkshire insiders, including numerous subsidiary CEOs. I also surveyed 500 Berkshire shareholders. The result is, I hope, a comprehensive portrait of Berkshire Hathaway.

Q: Who is Tom Murphy and why did he write the foreword to your book?

LC: Tom Murphy is a legendary manager who built Capital Cities/ABC into a broadcasting powerhouse in which Berkshire invested. When I saw Warren during the weekend of Berkshire’s 2014 annual meeting, I asked him who he thought should write the foreword. He immediately named Murphy, explaining that he learned most everything he knows about management from Tom. Readers will discover that Murphy, now a Berkshire director, fostered the same culture at Capital Cities/ABC that characterizes Berkshire today. Tom writes, “From afar, it may look like Berkshire’s wide-ranging businesses are very different from one another. In fact … they span industries, they are united by certain key values, like managerial autonomy, entrepreneurship, frugality and integrity.”


Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

New Book Tuesday! Waking, Dreaming, Being, and More!

Our weekly listing of new titles now available: Waking, Dreaming, Being, Evan Thompson

Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy
Evan Thompson

Visions of Dystopia in China’s New Historical Novels
Jeffrey C. Kinkley

Uncertainty, Expectations, and Financial Instability: Reviving Allais’s Lost Theory of Psychological Time
Eric Barthalon

Baby Boomers of Color: Implications for Social Work Policy and Practice
Melvin Delgado

The Great Civilized Conversation: Education for a World Community (Now available in paper)
Wm. Theodore De Bary

China’s Search for Security (Now available in paper)
Andrew J. Nathan and Andrew Scobell

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Herve This Is Bringing Note-by-Note Cooking to the USA!

Herve This, Note-by-Note Cooking

After spending a week reading about Herve This’s Note-by-Note Cooking: The Future of Food, now’s your chance to see the dynamic chemist as he comes to New York and Boston for a series of great events, beginning this Friday!:

Friday, October 24 at 6:00 pm
Boston University Jacques Pepin Lecture Series in Gastronomy and Experiential Food Studies

Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 12:30 pm
Boston Book Festival/Alliance Francaise de Boston

Monday, October 27, 2014 at 6:00 pm
Columbia University Maison Française
Columbia University’s Maison Française presents Herve This, Michael Laiskonis, and Adam Gopnik in conversation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm
Albertine Bookstore at the French Embassy
The discussion will be followed by a tasting prepared by Chef and Creative Director of the Institute of Culinary, Michael Laiskonis.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm
Institute for Culinary Education

Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm
Experimental Cuisine Collective at New York University

Friday, October 31, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Culinary Institute of America

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Book Givewaway! Berkshire Beyond Buffett

This week our featured book is Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values by Lawrence Cunningham.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook. You can also follow news about the book on the Columbia Business School Publishing twitter page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Berkshire Beyond Buffett to a lucky winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, October 24 at 1:00 pm.

Berkshire Hathaway, the $300 billion conglomerate that Warren Buffett built, is among the world’s largest and most famous corporations. Yet, for all its power and celebrity, few people understand Berkshire, and many assume it cannot survive without Buffett. This book proves that assumption wrong.

In a comprehensive portrait of the distinct corporate culture that unites and sustains Berkshire’s fifty direct subsidiaries, Lawrence A. Cunningham unearths the traits that assure the conglomerate’s perpetual prosperity. Riveting stories recount each subsidiary’s origins, triumphs, and journey to Berkshire and reveal the strategies managers use to generate economic value from intangible values, such as thrift, integrity, entrepreneurship, autonomy, and a sense of permanence.