The University Publisher

by Stuart Mitchner

Princeton University Press celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005 with the publication of A Century in Books, which showcased 100 volumes that “best typify what has been most lasting, most defining, and most distinctive about our publishing,” according to the introduction by outgoing director Walter Lippincott, who was succeeded in March of that year by the current director Peter J. Dougherty. The co- chair of the search committee at the time was University Provost Christopher Eisgruber, the University’s newly installed twentieth president and the subject of this issue’s cover story. What the provost said about the new director eight years ago could be said by the president today, that he’s looking forward to working with Dougherty “to sustain the healthy relationship between the Press and the University.”

Cited among Dougherty’s qualifications in 2005 were his previous 13 years with the Press “as a brilliant editor of books about economics.” It’s no surprise, then, that Princeton has just published Jeremy Adelman’s outstanding biography Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman, which should receive serious attention from prize committees when the best non-fiction works of 2013 are chosen. Certainly no one could imagine otherwise after reading the in-depth review in the June 24 New Yorker, where Malcolm Gladwell suggests that “Adelman brilliantly and beautifully brings Hirschman to life, giving us an unforgettable portrait of one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary intellectuals.”

As Adelman makes eloquently clear, Hirschman, a longtime Princeton resident who died at 97 last December, was a great deal more than an economist or a social scientist. Hirschman’s working devotion to language and literature is stressed throughout the book, where every chapter is headed by an epigraph from the work of Franz Kafka. Hirschman’s father Carl, a surgeon, used to read him Kafka’s stories, and the eventual author of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (Harvard Univ. Press 1970) shared his father’s fondness for “Investigations of a Dog,” which, as Adelman observes, “pointed to some of the foibles that accompany closed certainties, a style that would yield a lifelong imprint [for Hirschman].” And should you happen to be a mathematically challenged English major whose acquaintance with economics is pretty much limited to reading Paul Krugman’s column twice a week, you will feel like applauding until your hands ache when, after being chided by colleagues “for not putting his thoughts into mathematical models,” Hirschman declares that “mathematics has not quite caught up with metaphor or language—both are more inventive!”


BookSceneThe first Princeton University Press book to win a Pulitzer Prize was George F. Kennan’s Russia Leaves the War (1957), which also won a number of other honors, not least the National Book Award. There are interesting parallels in the careers and accomplishments of Hirschman and Kennan. Both men were dramatically and productively engaged in the history of their time, particularly during the war years 1938-1948. Both eventually transcended their roles in the world, Kennan the diplomat-historian, Hirschman the economist-philosopher whose missions for the World Bank to El Salvador and Ecuador, Ethiopia, Uganda and Nigeria, India and Thailand suggest a peripatetic life in the world not unlike Kennan’s tours of duty for the State Department. Doubtless Hirschman’s story would make a more exciting film—he fought in Spain and helped artists and intellectuals escape from Occupied France—but in the end he, like Kennan, found a home at the Institute for Advanced Study, and published with Princeton University Press (The Passions and the Interests in 1977 and Shifting Involvements in 1982). Both men settled down to live out their lives in Princeton, Hirschman on Newlin Road, Kennan on Hodge. From the point of view of their biographers, both men also had extraordinary wives. As Adelman movingly acknowledges, Sarah Hirschman, who died in January, guided him “through memories of a life she shared with a remarkable, complicated man,” giving him access to personal letters and diaries (“a biographer could only dream of such companionship”). As for Annelise Kennan, who died in 2008, John F. Gaddis simply said: “Annelise had her way with this book, and that is why I have dedicated it to her memory.”


In another recent Princeton Press book, Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures ($22.95), Leonard Barkan, a professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton, explains the relationship between poetry and painting as ultimately “an expression of desire: the painter longs for the rich signification of language while the poet yearns for the direct sensuousness of painting.” Barkan focuses on the period from antiquity to the Renaissance in his quest to understand why painters sometimes wish they were poets and why poets sometimes wish they were painters. As he explains in a video on the Press website ( html), the image of the painting used for the cover, Caravaggio’s Matthew and the Angel, which was destroyed during the bombing of Berlin, shows St. Matthew being inspired to write the gospel. The placement of the angel’s hand on St. Matthew’s, as if actually guiding it, illustrates Barkan’s theme, the act of writing merging with Caravaggio’s act of painting; that, and the fact that the calligraphy, in Hebrew, was “exquisitely perfect,” made it an eloquently representative image. His previous book was Michelangelo: A Life on Paper (Princeton 2010).



According to Nature, in Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe (Princeton 2013), Princeton University astrophysical sciences professor Jeremiah Ostriker and science historian Simon Mitton “seamlessly blend historical narrative with lucid scientific explication, from the deeps of classical time to the data-fuelled hyperdrive of the past 50 years.” Kirkus Reviews describes how “with infectious enthusiasm, diagrams and even a little high schoolmath, the authors deliver the available answers along with the increasing confusion. A fine introduction to cosmology but rich enough to inform readers familiar with introductions.”

bookscene118Robert Wuthnow’s new book Small- Town America: Finding Community, Shaping the Future (Princeton $35) is about factory workers, shop owners, retirees, teachers, clergy, and mayors—residents who show neighborliness in small ways, but who also worry about everything from school closings and their children’s futures to the ups and downs of the local economy. Drawing on more than 700 interviews in hundreds of towns across America and three decades of census data, Wuthnow, a professor of Social Sciences at Princeton, shows the fragility of community in small towns. Topics covered include the symbols and rituals of small-town life, the roles of formal and informal leaders, the social role of religious congregations, the perception of moral and economic decline, and the ways residents in small towns make sense of their own lives. Wuthnow also tackles issues such as class and race, abortion, homosexuality, and substance abuse. His other books include Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America’s Heartland and Remaking the Heartland: Middle America since the 1950s (both Princeton).


Some other interesting new titles from Princeton University Press are Italo Calvino, Letters 1941-1985, selected with an introduction by Michael Wood; The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement by Carrie Rosefsky Wickham; and Shaping Jazz: Cities, Labels, and the Global Emergence of an Art Form by Damon J. Phillips. Jill Lepore’s The Story of America: Essays and Origins (Princeton 2012) has been shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein- Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.