Thursday, December 3, 2009
The Silence and the Scorpion: The Coup Against Chavez and the Making of Modern Venezuela, by Brian A. Nelson (Nation Books, 9781568584188) A scrupulous account of one of the most important, yet most misunderstood, events in recent South American history. It should be read by all those who believe that Hugo Chavez is a worthy champion of democracy and the oppressed. [And lest you think this is some right-wing revisionism, pray consider the publisher.]
The Arabs: A History, by Eugene Rogan (Basic, 9780465071005) Inspired by the work of Albert Hourani, this is a traditional history that focuses on the interplay of powers and the march of events to set the Arab story in a modern context. [That's two lists since this morning - I told you this was a remarkable book!]
The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom, by Graham Farmelo (Basic, 9780465018277) Paul Dirac's equations predicted the existence of antimatter. His insights were so astonishing and so counter-intuitive that it is hard to imagine anyone else devising them. This excellent biographer demonstrates how he was probably the best British theoretical physicist since Isaac Newton.
Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, by Richard Wrangham (Basic, 9780465013623) A startling and persuasive analysis of the evolutionary role of cookery, arguing that you really are what you eat.
That's it for the Perseus books - but I also want to give a shout out to one of their fiction selections:
Your Face Tomorrow: Poison, Shadow and Farewell, by Javier Marias, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (New Directions) Mr Marias has seized the spy thriller and turned it into a novel of ideas.
I've been praising Mr. Marias to the skies for years - I'm glad to see him getting his due. (If, by the way, you want to start with something smaller & more self-contained than the final volume of a series, allow me to recommend A Heart So White. This takes the family melodrama and turns it into a novel of ideas; it's so good it made me dizzy.)
America, Empire of Liberty, by David Reynolds (Basic, 9780465015009)
The Arabs: A History, by Eugene Rogan (Basic, 9780465071005)
Bring Me My Machine Gun: the Battle for the Soul of South Africa, from Mandela to Zuma (appearing as After Mandela: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa), by Alec Russell (PublicAffairs, 9781586487386)
The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, The Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals, by Frank Partnoy (PublicAffairs, 9781586487430)
Keynes: The Return of the Master, by Robert Skidelsky (PublicAffairs, 9781586488277)
Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport (appearing simply, and delightfully, as Why England Lose: And Other Curious Football Phenomena Explained), by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski (Nation, 9781568584256)
Tragically, still no recognition for Eduardo Galeano.
9. The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness, by Harlow Ungar (Da Capo, 9780306818080)
14. Amelia Earhart: The Thrill of It, by Susan Wels (Running Press, 9780762437634)
21. Marcus Aurelius: A Life, by Frank McLynn (Da Capo, 9780306818301)
28. America, Empire of Liberty, by David Reynolds (Basic, 9780465015009)
42. China: A History, by John Keay (Basic, 9780465015801)
45. Jerusalem’s Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea, by Desmond Seward (Da Capo, 9780306818073)
68. The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919, by Mark Thompson (Basic, 9780465013296)
69. Fatal Journey: The Final Journey of Henry Hudson, by Peter Mancall (Basic, 9780465005116)
76. Leningrad: State of Siege, by Michael Jones (Basic, 9780465011537)
96. The Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the Battle for Europe, by Andrew Wheatcroft (Basic, 9780465013746)
That list is not without its disappointments - I shake my head in wonder that neither Eduardo Galeano's Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (Nation, 9781568584232) nor Eugene Rogan's The Arabs: A History (Basic, 9780465071005) made the list; both are among the richest, most memorable history books I've encountered in a long while.
And I'm also of the mind that The White War should have been much closer to the top than #68 (picky, picky!) -- you may recall the enthusiasm with which I presented it (and even wrote about it in this forum). It vied with Mirrors for my favorite book on the Spring 2009 list. Everyone thought I was crazy for pushing it -- and I'll agree, unless your author's name is Hemingway Italy in World War One is not the easiest sell -- but this is a fantastic, enriching read. When a customer asks for a history book for that close relation who's already read all the big ones, I promise you this will satisfy.
But why quibble overmuch? It's lovely to see such recognition.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I came across this yesterday afternoon, and thought immediately of our forthcoming book Fatal System Error by Joseph Menn (PulicAffairs, 9781586487485; Feb. 2010). It's a surprising, thrilling read, that follows cyber attacks back to their sources in Italy and Russia, and finds a much darker, scarier world that you tend to imagine when you move those "lottery winnings" e-mails into your SPAM folder. A page-turner about an issue of increasing importance - it's definitely got potential.
Monday, August 24, 2009
The book that I think generated the most bookseller interest last season was Eduardo Galeano's Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (9781568584232). This has been a great success, hitting the indie bestseller lists up and down our coast; and now it is finally getting the major media attention it deserves. Hopefully you saw the review in yesterday's New York Times:Galeano's prose is nearly lulling in its lyricism, a quality that gives it an overridingly shamanic tone. His powerful voice reminds us, over and over again, of the responsibility of writers to be constantly in search of new forms of expression that may draw us out of our complacency, as he does so eloquently here. As in his previous books, he succeeds in capturing the bottomless horror of the state’s capacity to inflict pain on the individual, offering as effective an act of political dissent as exists anywhere in contemporary literature.
And in a very nice one-two punch, that was followed by NPR's "Morning Edition" earlier today. It's been a great pleasure to have Mr. Galeano on our list - and it looks like we will be reissuing some of his earlier works in the Spring, which is again a cause for celebration.
"Bottomless horror" sometimes seems the specialty of Nation Books. An odd specialty, it's true, but it does provide wonders: recently among them is Chris Hedges' Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (9781568584379), a true jeremiad against America's retreat from reality, and our diminishing ability to engage in, or even imagine, the serious discussion necessary for a functional democracy. Apparently, Mr. Hedges' revulsion at our national obsessions with fantastic spectacle has struck a chord -- even without major national review attention we've seen it hit the New York Times extended list. That's a credit to your efforts - thanks.More in that vein - if with a somewhat lighter touch - is landing now, in Max Blumenthal's Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party (9781568583983). Perhaps because there is more genuine fascination and less out and out revulsion in its pages, Mr. Blumenthal's book is already getting the kind of attention we strangely had to wait for for Messrs. Galeano and Hedges: on top of a plethora of on-line activity (Daily Beast, TPM, crooksandliars, etc.), we 've locked up a September 10th appearance on "Fresh Air."
It's hard to imagine us topping that publicity lineup right out of the gate, but we do still have a couple real treasures on the way this fall. In late November, we'll publish a career capping opus from the wily old rabble rouser John Ross: El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City (9781568584249). You're in for a rollicking good time with this one, in the company of Beatniks and drug lords and other assorted reprobates. It's a love song to the city that has arisen at what the Aztecs called "the umbilicus of the universe," touched by sorrow at the loss of its demimonde, and awe at how this intense metopolis continually picks itself up, buries its dead, and forges insolently ahead. In his attention to the people whose stories are nearly always ignored, Mr. Ross is a kind of marvelous and peculiarly American cousin to Mr. Galeano.And finally, this October, we'll publish what was to me the most surprising and affecting of them all: Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Dead and the Living in Viet Nam (9781568584058), by Wayne Karlin. The odds are good you've heard me sing in praise of this already, so i'll keep this short. This belongs in the company of Tim O'Brien's books, not only because it is a unique, wise, and moving look at the Viet Nam war and its aftermath, but because of the quality of the writing. It takes a kind of magic (the consolation of art?) to bring uplift out of such a grim story, but this manages to do it -- almost literally putting the ghosts to rest. It is simply magnificent, my favorite book of the fall, and absolutely worth reading right now.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
This caused a little bit of a stir...but nothing like this morning's news, as seen in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and theNation.com, that in 2004, the CIA contracted with Blackwater to hunt and kill suspected Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan, and gave Blackwater operational control of the program. That's right: they outsourced assassination attempts.
This was part of the CIA program recently disclosed - and disbanded - by current CIA Director Leon Panetta; according to today's reports, in fact, it was a key factor in Mr. Panetta's decision to alert Congress. (You might recall that the program was allegedly kept from Congress at the direction of Vice President Cheney. Which might surprise you, considering how communicative Mr. Cheney usually is.)
It's true that in this case the Times and the Post got this into print before our Mr. Scahill, who's usually far ahead of the curve on issues relating to Blackwater. (Remember: Nation Books published his book a full six months before the mainstream media was forced to pay attention to them after their employees murdered 17 Iraqi civilians.) But given how focused Mr. Scahill is on this issue, I'd not be surprised at all if he had more of the story to tell. And we'll have plenty of chances to find out -- as the recognized authority, he's the one the talking heads and blogging heads are turning to: this morning, he was Amy Goodman's guest on "Democracy Now" to discuss the issue. You can see their conversation here.
This evening, he will be Keith Olbermann's guest on "Countdown;" and tomorrow he will be a special in-studio guest of Bill Maher's on "Real Time." (He'll also stick around to join the panel - his co-panelists will include Chuck Todd of NBC News and Jay Leno of NBC entertainment.)
When Mr. Scahill gets his teeth into something, he keeps at it. He told Amy Goodman today that what was reported in the Times and the Post is just a small fraction of the story. I'm very interested to see what more he finds. In the meantime, we've got plenty of stock....
Blackwater: the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
by Jeremy Scahill
Monday, July 20, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
#9 on the MPBA bestseller list
Keep in mind: Mr. Armstong is returning to racing at the advanced age of 37 years, and after 3 years away from the sport (and from a broken clavicle!). Winning the Tour for seven consecutive years (after recovering from cancer) already qualified him as "the world's greatest champion," but, my oh my, wouldn't a title this year be a phenomenal capstone?
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Book Review: That Mad Ache
That Mad Ache by Françoise Sagan, translated by Douglas Hofstadter (Basic Books, $14.94 trade paper, 9780465010981/0465010989, May 2009)
Why is that man reading his book upside down?
Because one side of That Mad Ache, the handsome, newly-released paperback original from Basic Books, is a fresh translation of Françoise Sagan's 1965 French novel, La Chamade, but flip the book over and you'll find another book altogether. Upside down on the other side is a brilliantly-written 100-page essay on the art of translation by the translator himself, Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prize-winning genius who created Godel, Escher, Bach. Sagan leaped to fame in 1954 at the age of 18 when her novel Bonjour, Tristesse became an international sensation. That Mad Ache, written 11 years later, contains the same witty, ironic dissection of upper-class French lovers and disenfranchised young people, gracefully baring the souls of her characters and watching them misunderstand each other. Lucille is the aimless, 30-year-old lover of Charles, 20 years her senior. She sits next to a gloomy young man she doesn't much like at a high society dinner, someone else's lover, and together the two cause a scandal by a tactless burst of laughter. From there it's a labyrinthine journey into the human heart, as lively and invigorating in Hofstadter's fresh, airy translation as any novel written today.
Hofstadter lays bare the zillion-and-one decisions that confront any translator. He compares his choices with those of the earlier translator, Robert Westhoff, who was Françoise Sagan's husband and the father of her only child. Translation is a subtle, suggestive art, and Hofstadter reveals, among other things, his clever solution to the vous/tu dilemma and when to have English idioms come out of French mouths. His boldest assertion is blatantly favoring the meaning and idea over the literal translation, and he shows you his daring insertions, alterations and omissions to prove it. Hofstadter is a delightfully endearing smartie who adores the text he's translating, knows how to doubt himself and unabashedly admits his pleasures in this frequently laugh-out-loud funny personal essay.
Not only that, but it's a beautifully made book, a physical pleasure in weight and flexibility, super-readable type face, lovely cover--a book-lover's joy to hold and read in which every aspect of publishing (including the contents, both fiction and non-fiction!) are superbly executed for maximum reading enjoyment. Kindle, eat your heart out.--Nick DiMartino
Shelf Talker: A new translation of Françoise Sagan's La Chamade--subtle and daring--combined with an essay on translation by the translator himself, Douglas Hofstadter.
Friday, June 12, 2009
In this incarnation there are really only six titles on the “hot” portion – but the first one pleases me so much that I count it twice:
Eduardo Galeano’s Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (Nation Books, 9781568584232) is getting the attention it deserves, and creating evangelists. For example, Lucia Silva of Portrait of a Bookstore in
Richard Wrangham’s Catching Fire: How Cooking Made s Human (Basic, 9780465013623) has certainly captured the imagination of radio producers. Having already been featured on 7 public radio programs, including “Weekend All Things Considered,” “Chef’s Table,” and “To the Best of Our Knowledge” (taped, but still to air), Dr. Wrangham has added a high profile eighth: yesterday he taped an interview with PRI’s “The World.” And looking down the summer, we have him confirmed for an appearance on “Talk of the Nation’s Science Friday” on August 28. Famed minimalist Mark Bittman also featured the book in his “Bitten” blog on the New York Times website, and will feature a Q&A with Dr. Wrangham in an upcoming blog post. All of which follows on glowing reviews in the Times (“Catching Fire is a plain-spoken and thoroughly gripping scientific essay that presents nothing less than a new theory of human evolution...one that Darwin (among others) simply missed.”), the San Francisco Chronicle (“Wrangham has a curious mind, in all the best senses…. This is colorful stuff, and Wrangham obviously has an eye on a general readership, but he never talks down, and he's a trustworthy guide through some daunting intellectual terrain.”), and just about everywhere in the science press you could think to look.
Going into last season I thought that Peter Carlson’s K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude Starring
The Skinny Bitch empire continues to expand, with the recent publication of Skinny Bastard (Running Press, 9780762435401). Authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin will have their first major national media interview on the Lifetime Network’s new morning show, “Balancing Act with Dr. David Friedman,” the first week in July (exact air date to come). You’ll know from past experience that this is just the beginning of a prolonged onslaught.
Now that the film Food, Inc. is getting broad release, its advocates – and the contributors to our companion book from PublicAffairs (9781586486945) – are burning up the airwaves. Last week Eric Schlosser was on Colbert, Michael Pollan was on Bill Maher, and director Robert Kenner appeared on PBS’s “Now.” This very morning, Mr. Kenner appeared on “Morning Edition,” and ABC’s “Nightline” will run a segment on the film next Monday. There should be no paucity of attention, and we think it’s a great opportunity for the book. I’d like to remind you, and hope you’ll remind your customers, that the book is much, much more than a simple recap of the documentary – it’s almost entirely original material, and should appeal widely. And it’s a paper original! Magic words these days….
And finally (or almost finally), Sunday’s New York Times Book Review will feature a magnificent review of Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s Enemy at the Gate: Habsburgs, Ottomans, and the
I can’t help but mention, too, that Mr. Wheatcroft’s review is but a step in Basic’s continuing string of New York Times Book Review coverage – I’ve attached a lovely little sheet showing the reviews they’d received through April; upcoming issues will review The Secret Lives of Boys and Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love. PublicAffairs is also shoehorning in, with several reviews scheduled in the next couple weeks: World War One, The Sages, and (best title ever) The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday. And while we’re in the Book Review’s pages, I must also mention that the eternal bestseller Skinny Bitch has had recent company on the bestseller lists – Thomas Sowell’s The Housing Boom and Bust (thank you, Mr. Glenn Beck) and Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina. This one is particularly pleasing – a small, indie press (Pear Press, 9780979777745), succeeding largely through the evangelical efforts of booksellers like you. Many thanks from all of us at team Perseus.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Some quick items of interest as Perseus titles make waves in the marketplace:
Glenn Beck has found someone to help him through his great fears for our nation, and that man is Thomas Sowell. Last night, he had Mr. Sowell on his program to discuss the economy and President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. The good television host was moved almost to tears by Mr. Sowell’s wisdom and reason: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye8rld8tLEs. But that is only the beginning. Next week, Mr. Beck will conduct a week-long, 5-part seminar on the wisdom to be found in Mr. Sowell’s current book, The Housing Boom and Bust (Basic, 9780465018802). Much more national media is scheduled, including a review and Q&A in the Investor’s Business Daily, and an appearance on the nationally syndicated “G. Gordon Liddy Show.” The trick is not to mind it…and to sell the book.
If you like, you can set up a point-counterpoint on your display shelves, between Mr. Sowell on the right, and Robert Frank on the left. On Monday, June 1, Mr. Frank will be a guest on NPR’s “The Talk of the Nation” in the 3 o’clock hour, discussing his current release, The Economic Naturalist’s Field Guide (Basic, 9780465015115). The first reviews for this unabashedly liberal look at political economy have been stellar. Library Journal wrote, “Frank’s writing sparkles, and the topics, which include health care and the subprime-mortgage crisis, are timely.” And on Monday Booklist will have a starred review: “Witty, compelling, and sensible, these essays should resonate in this era of economic turmoil.” There is also a Q&A with Mr. Frank in the current issue of Money magazine, which you can find here: http://money.cnn.com/2009/05/18/pf/Robert_frank.moneymag/index.htm.
We were very pleased with the starred PW review of Neil MacFarquhar’s The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday (PublicAffairs, 9781586486358); how much more so you may imagine with last Sunday’s Washington Post Outlook piece: “Neil MacFarquhar is that rare and wonderful thing, a Middle East correspondent who not only speaks Arabic but also grew up in the region. This experience infuses his book -- the product of 20 years of reporting -- with the wit, insight and eye-rolling exasperation of a near-native…. The result is an intelligent and fascinating romp full of anecdotes, acid asides and conversations with everyone from dissidents to diplomats and liberal religious sheikhs, and even a Kuwaiti woman with a sex-advice column…. It's a testament to MacFarquhar's deep background knowledge and the lightness of his touch that complex issues … are distilled into clear exposition without ever being oversimplified or dumbed down. But MacFarquhar has written much more than just a very good primer to the region. His real achievement is to give the reader a window into the private debates among the intelligentsia and political classes of the
A big thanks to
And finally, a bit of a sleeper: Peter Carlson’s K Blows Top (PublicAffairs, 9781586484972) continues to capture imaginations. Most recently, it was
That’s all for now – go do your good works.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
If you are hosting an event for Bryant Terry's new book, Vegan Soul Kitchen (Da Capo, 9780738212289), be sure to get at least as many copies as the number of attendees you are expecting at your event. Also be sure to stock his 2005 book, GRUB (9781585424597). http://www.bryant-terry.com/blog.html. Bryant is a very good speaker: entertaining, humorous, informative, polite (and we all know how much this counts at author events). About half of the attendees at the event I just worked bought more than one copy of each book. He usually travels with copies of his own so you might want to make arrangements with him for consignment sales just in case you run out (but don't under-stock the books with this mind).
If you have not already booked this guy for an event, do it
(I'll admit, I added the emphasis for that last sentence - but wouldn't you have done?)
For more info on Mr. Terry, check out Da Capo's excellent new cooking site.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
As you may know, we are spearheading a unique project at BEA - a collaborative crashed title called BOOK: The Sequel.
This project asks the world to imagine the sequel to any book, and then write its first sentence.
For example: ever wonder what happens to Harry Potter after twenty years of marriage and a steady government gig? Or what Karl Marx would say about today's financial crisis? If the Bible had a sequel, what its first sentence would be? Write that sentence and you could be published! It's easy!
Pick a Book.
Imagine its Sequel.
Write the first sentence.
Add a great title, and then submit it to http://www.blogger.com/www.bookthesequel.com, and it might just get published by Perseus.
At 5pm on Thursday, May 28th, at the start of BEA, we will "open the submissions box." Over the next 48 hours, in our booth at BEA, we will Select, Edit, Organize, Design, Layout, Print, Convert to Digital, Create the Audio and Large Print versions, Publicize, Market and Sell this book.
Submissions have been rolling into our website since its launch April 28th - all are encouraged to participate. In addition to the website, we've got a Facebook page (become a friend!), and you can follow the project on Twitter.
Some inspiration to get you started:
"See, I was right." -From Das Kapital 2, by Karl Marx (sequel to Das Kapital)
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man who has lost his fortune in a Ponzi scheme, his job in structured finance and his retirement savings in toxic assets, must be in want of a wife." -From Busted and Bailed Out by Jane Austen (sequel to Sense and Sensibility)
"Call Me, Ishmael!" -From Moby Dick's Guide to Dating at Sea
Write your own at http://www.bookthesequel.com/, and find out on May 30 if you've become a published author!
(As for the actual book itself: it will be a paper original , priced at $9.95, on sale as soon after June 2 as standard shipping allows -- ISBN: 978-0-78674-781-8. Orders accepted now!)
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Samuel Johnson Prize is the richest non-fiction prize in the UK, and aims "to reward the best of non-fiction and is open to authors of all non-fiction books in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts." Mr. Marozzi's book is in exalted company - others on the long list include David Grann's The Lost City of Z, Alexander Waugh's The House of Wittgenstein, and Alain de Botton's The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. It truly is an accomplishment to be grouped together with those (and the rest of the finalists), and I wish him well as the judges deliberate.
The short list will be announced later this month, and the winner will be declared in a televised ceremony on June 30. Hopefully, we'll be able to put a fancy "winner" badge on the paperback, which is on this fall's list and due for publication in February 2010.
(Oh, and a backlist opportunity: if you'd like to check out Mr. Marozzi's chops as a more conventional historian, I highly recommend his earlier book, Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World. It's available in paperback (9780306815430), and an excellent contribution to western scholarship on the history of the Muslim world - an area in which I'm pleased to say the Perseus Books Group has been publishing strongly. More on that later, perhaps; for the moment I'll just say that Mr. Marozzi's skills as a writer - vivid descriptions and characterizations, strong narrative drive - are equally evident here.)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
May 11, 2009
(As reported by ABBFFE, the American Booksellers Foundation
for Free Expression)
The controversy over the dismissal of four library board
members in West Bend, Wisconsin, continues to grow. The West Bend Common Council may soon be forced to reconsider its April 21 vote to dismiss the board members because of their refusal to remove controversial books from the young adult section of the library. The board members are accused of promoting "the overt
indoctrination of the gay agenda." Supporters of the library board intend to introduce a motion to reconsider at the May 18 council meeting.
Two of the books challenged are Brent Hartinger's Geography Club (Harper) and Stephan Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Simon & Schuster). Meanwhile, critics have recently called for restrictions on a third book, Baby Be Bop by Francesca Lia Block (Harper). The Christian Civil Liberties Union's (CCLU) Milwaukee branch has filed a legal claim, calling the book offensive and arguing that the elderly plaintiffs' mental and emotional well-beings are damaged by the book's presence at the library. Named in the claim are the city of West Bend, Mayor Kristine Deiss, the West Bend Library Board and Library Director. CCLU seeks $30,000 per plaintiff, Deiss' resignation and the book's removal and a public burning.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Here’s a reason to love
If you’d like a sense of what Mr. Ross has been up to recently, check out this recent account on the Bay Guardian’s blog. When not harassing repressive authorities, Mr. Ross has been writing a followup to his marvelous Murdered by Capitalism – Nation Books is proud to be publishing, this November, El Monstruo, an epic lovesong to the urban monstrosity that is Mexico City. Attached is a little flier they drew up to spread the early word. If you’ve got a place to display it, that would be marvelous. Even if you don’t, please salute Mr. Ross and his uniquely distinguished career…and consider once again displaying his backlist.
Zapatistas!: Making another World Possible (Nation Books, 9781560258742)
El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City (Nation Books, 9781568584249 - available November, 2009)
Friday, May 1, 2009
It’s late on a Friday afternoon, so I’ll keep this quick: our major publicity hits upcoming – prepare yourselves!
1. Frank Partnoy will be on “The Daily Show” on May 11 to promote The Match King (PublicAffairs, 9781586487430). This comes on the heels of some great review attention, including from PW (Starred review), The Huffington Post, Slate, The Economist, and BusinessWeek. I’ll just quote this last: “An absorbing tale and a poignant reminder that every boom has its scoundrels…Partnoy gives us a rich account of the Roaring Twenties' most astounding confidence man.” The story is uncannily appropriate to our times, and the book is picking up steam.
2. Richard Dowden’s Africa (PublicAffairs, 9781586487539) will be reviewed in this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review – Nicholas D. Kristof will have this to say: “We journalists tend to cover
3. We’ve just received word that Bryant Terry’s interview on American Public Media’s “The Splendid Table” will air tomorrow, 5/2! Mr. Terry is the author of Vegan Soul Kitchen (Da Capo, 9780738212289), which was our #10 selling book last week. The program airs on stations KAZU (
4. Here’s what being a former New York Times correspondent gets you: plenty of national media is lining up for Neil MacFarquhar and The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday (PublicAffairs, 9781586486358). To wit:
5/7 CNN “Situation Room” / interview
5/13 PBS “Charlie Rose” / interview
5/4 NPR’s “Morning Edition” / interview
5/4 WBUR’s “On Point” (nationally syndicated) / interview
5/4 PRI’s “The World” / interview
Additionally, it has been assigned for review at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.
5. And last but in no way least, the Donald. Think Like a Champion (Vanguard, 9781593155308) will be #8 on this Sunday’s New York Times Bestseller List. Last night, Mr. Trump visited with Bill O’Reilly, and Papa Bear proclaimed the book “perfect for Dads.” We have two national publicity hits within the next week, and hopefully they will decree the book perfect for Moms and for Grads: He’ll be on Letterman on Monday (May 4), reading the Top 10 List, and the next morning he’ll have an audience with the ladies of “The View.” Please, do not disappoint the Donald.
That’s all for this week’s edition (brought to you by the
Friday, April 24, 2009
Sometimes it happens, your trombonist goes on tour with King Oliver, say, and you’ve got to fill a spot in the lineup….
Well, here’s the note I got from the Running Press publicity department earlier today:
Due to extenuating circumstances, the authors of Smart Girls Marry Money (9780762435173) will not be on The Oprah Show today. However, we have received great feedback from the Oprah team. They are actively pursuing other opportunities for the authors in the next four weeks before the show goes on hiatus.
We will keep everyone informed.
Blast. I’ll let you know should anything materialize.
But there’s always an old standby you can count on to step in (or, to think of it slightly differently, The New York Times giveth what Oprah taketh away): Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, Skinny Bastard (Running Press, 9780762435401 – c’mon, you can’t tell me you’re surprised…). It’s just landing in stores now, and Motoko Rich is first on the scene with a feature article – which helpfully includes the marketing roadmap. “All along, the plan was to target both men and women,” Ms. Freedman told her interviewer. “It was just: Let’s get Skinny Bitch out there and establish it because women are more prone to buying diet books and books in general.” To which Ms. Barnouin added: ““I think the guys will enjoy it once they have it. But I think it’s going to be the wives and girlfriends and sisters buying these books.” Which is to say: be sure to stack this one and the original next to each other. Much more national publicity is on the way (and that Skinny Bitch sitcom is still in development…).
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Ms. Schiff and Ms. Preston are both wonderful writers of serious but accessible history. So I mean them no disrespect when I say that they are treading over ground already surveyed, masterfully, by Joyce Tyldesley, in last year's Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt (Basic, 9780465009404). This was the first, and to this point, really, still the only study of this mythic figure that chose to see her as an Egyptian, and not through the lens of her overbearing Roman neighbors. In this it was a serious contribution to scholarship. But as the reviews upon publication made clear, it was equally a revelation for the general reader. Publishers Weekly, for example, gave it a starred review:
This entertaining biography hits the elusive sweet spot between scholarship and readability…. Writing with an easy mastery of her subject, Tyldesley always seems to be able to lay her hands on the perfect lively detail, whether an excerpt from an obscure bureaucratic document or a description of a kind of giant robot that paraded through the streets of Alexandria pouring libations of milk from a gold bottle. Though she makes it clear we’ll never know what Cleopatra was ‘really’ like, Tyldesley provides a memorable journey through the rich and contradictory sources of our knowledge about her.
It won similar praise from outlets ranging from the Tucson Citizen to the Feminist Review -- and at greatest length from, of all places, Newsweek: "In the year of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, untangling the legend of Cleopatra has special urgency…. To regard Cleopatra as an Egyptian ruler instead of a male myth, and to assess her using scholarly and archeological tools, is a worthy goal. It seems long overdue."
I'm moved to mention all of that not just out of pride that we got there first. More, it's because noticing these other, similar works on Cleopatra has given me an even greater appreciation of what it is that Basic Books does best. Publisher John Sherer once went so far as to call it the Basic "formula": they look for recognized experts, conducting original research in support of unconventional ideas (or unconventional approaches to conventional subjects). They have a particularly keen eye for scholars who have developed outstanding academic reputations, but who are poised to address a wider (i.e. trade) audience.
Ms. Tyldesley is an excellent example. Others among our current authors would include:
Dean Falk, whose Finding Our Tongues (9780465002191) proposes a unique theory concerning the origin of language;
Richard Wrangham, whose forthcoming Catching Fire (9780465013623) makes some extraordinary claims regarding cooked food and human evolution;
and Nobel Laureate Frank Wilczek, whose The Lightness of Being (9780465003211) proposes little short of a Grand Unification Theory.
I just noticed those are all scientists -- but we've also introduced several incredibly talented historians, including James Palmer (author of The Bloody White Baron (9780465014484), "a fascinating portrait of an appalling man" - PW's starred review) and Timothy Snyder (The Red Prince (9780465002375), which "captures in shimmering colors the death of old Europe and the continent's descent into barbarism" - Shelf Awareness). It is great fun to get to magpie around in these lists-- whole worlds of new ideas, and of fresh approaches to old questions await.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
It is too hot out. The heat is frying my brain, and bringing me shamefully close to some cheesy, morning-radio-caliber metaphors for the publicity hits we’ve been getting this week. So with very little fanfare, let me give you the “Hot 7” from Perseus (that’s not a weather reference!) – a quick list of titles that are seeing some good action:
Eduardo Galeano, Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone (Nation Books, 9781568584232): we’re thrilled to be getting a boost from that unlikeliest of Oprahs,
Daniela Drake and Elizabeth Ford, Smart Girls Marry Money (Running Press, 9780762435173): I’d love to see Eduardo Galeano on Oprah; until that happens, though, I’ll settle for Ms. Drake and Ms. Ford. They’ll visit with Ms. Winfrey on Friday, April 24, through the magic of Skype. They will be the focus of the “Hot Topics” segment – this is the same segment that launched the hysteria over Oprah Twittering. It gets attention. Ideally, this would have come next week, but Ms. Winfrey is not a woman to be kept waiting, so it’s turning into a big publicity hit before the book is quite available. Some of you might have it in time; the rest will get it next week. But this gives the book a good push out of the gate, and gives the Running Press publicity department a good springboard – as you’ll see on the attached sheet. Please don’t be shy on this one.
Alec Russell, Bring Me My Machine Gun: the Battle for the Soul of South Africa, from Mandela to Zuma (PublicAffairs, 9781586487386):
Dara Chadwick, You’d Be So Pretty If…: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies Even When We Don’t Love Our Own (Da Capo, 9780738212586): the producers at the “Today Show” were so impressed with Ms. Chadwick that they’ve bumped their segment on her book up from May 1 to April 29 (next Wednesday). They’ll be interviewing Ms. Chadwick and her daughter, and introducing the segment with a longer string of interviews with Moms on the Street. It should be a good segment, and will definitely raise the profile of this paperback original. Please check to be sure you have it in stock.
Mark Arax, West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders and Killers in the
Henry Harpending and Gregory Cochran, 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution (Basic, 9780465002214): Saturday’s LA Times ran a feature article on Drs. Harpending and Cochran, and the research that is chronicled in this book. The article focused on one of the more attention-getting claims – in the Times’s words, “Ashkenazi Jews have a higher rate of some deadly genetic diseases -- and of high IQs. Scientists Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending say that's no coincidence.” (You can see the entire piece here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-jewish-iq18-2009apr18,0,2228388.story.) For a while, this was the most e-mailed article on the website, and it has since been picked up by papers across the country. Yahoo news ran a similar article from McClatchy newspapers.
Francis Wrangham, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (Basic, 9780465013623): the “Science Times” section of the New York Times ran an outstanding Q & A with Dr. Wrangham this morning…and I subsequently got some galley requests! (I choose to believe that that’s because the book sounds interesting, not because Dr. Wrangham mentioned that Jane Goodall once prohibited him from running around naked with a bunch of chimpanzees.) The book is to be published in May (at the same time as Mirrors), and has been assigned for review at numerous papers and magazines. I think it will get noticed. Get ready!
So there you have it – a strong lineup indeed. Let me know if you can use more of anything…and stay cool.