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Publisher Spotlight: Top Ten from Cambridge University Press

There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes at Bookshare, and that includes the feed of digital files from our partners. Every month we receive thousands of files from publishers around the world. Over 100 publishers have signed with Bookshare and are donating digital files, including all the major trade publishing houses (Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Scholastic) as well as top university presses (Cambridge, Chicago, Princeton, Columbia, California, NYU, Michigan, Stanford) and K-12 and postsecondary publishers. They send us their new releases and books on just about every subject you can imagine, including books that fill a specialty niche (like the history of the cookbook, for example). In that vein, we thought we’d share ten of the most popular and most interesting books from one of our publishers, Cambridge University Press. Take a look–you may wind up reading something new and fascinating, and totally outside your usual preferences!

Cycles of Spin: Strategic Communication in the U.S. by Patrick Sellers — How do politicians shape and control news coverage? Sellers examines strategic communication campaigns in the U.S. Congress. He argues that these campaigns create cycles of spin: leaders creating messages, rank-and-file legislators decide whether or not to promote those messages, journalists deciding whether or not to cover the messages, and any coverage feeds back to influence the policy process. Sellers uses diverse evidence, from participant observation and press secretary interviews, to computerized content analysis and vector auto regression. The result is a comprehensive and unprecedented examination of politicians’ promotional campaigns and journalists’ coverage of those campaigns. Countering numerous critics of spin, Sellers offers the provocative argument that the promotional messages have their origins in the actual policy preferences of members of Congress. The campaigns to promote these messages thus can help the public learn about policy debates in Congress.

Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity by John Butt — Providing a detailed analysis of Bach’s Passions, this book represents an important contribution to the debate about the culture of ‘classical music’, its origins, priorities and survival. While the historical details of Bach’s composition, performance and theological context remain crucial, the foremost concern of this study is to relate these works to a historical context that may, in some threads at least, still be relevant today. The central claim of the book is that the interplay of traditional imperatives and those of early modernity renders Bach’s Passions particularly fascinating as artifacts that both reflect and constitute some of the priorities and conditions of the western world

Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto by Friederike Pannewick, Pal Nyiri,  Heike Paul, Reinhard Meyer-Kalkus,  Ines G. Zupanov and Stephen Greenblatt — Cultural Mobility is a blueprint and a model for understanding the patterns of meaning that human societies create. Each essay in the collection shares the conviction that cultures, even traditional cultures, are rarely stable or fixed. Radical mobility is not a phenomenon of the twenty-first century alone, but is a key constituent element of human life in virtually all periods. Yet academic accounts of culture tend to operate on exactly the opposite assumption and to celebrate what they imagine to be rooted or whole or undamaged. To grasp the shaping power of colonization, exile, emigration, wandering, contamination, and unexpected, random events, along with the fierce compulsions of greed, longing, and restlessness, cultural analysis needs to operate with a new set of principles.

The Life of the Longhouse by Peter Metcalf — For two centuries, travelers were amazed at the massive buildings found along the rivers that flow from the mountainous interior of Borneo. They concentrated hundreds of people under one roof in the middle of empty rainforests. There was no practical necessity for this arrangement, and it remains a mystery. Peter Metcalf provides an answer by showing the historical context, using both oral histories and colonial records. The key factor was a pre-modern trading system that funneled rare and exotic jungle products to China via the ancient coastal city of Brunei. Meanwhile the elite manufactured goods traded upriver shaped the political and religious institutions of longhouse society. However, the apparent permanence of longhouses was an illusion. In historical terms, longhouse communities were both mobile and labile, and the patterns of ethnicity they created more closely resemble the contemporary world than any stereotype of “tribal” societies.

Aristophanes The Democrat by Keith Sidwell – This book provides a new interpretation of the nature of Old Comedy and its place at the heart of Athenian democratic politics. Professor Sidwell argues that Aristophanes and his rivals belonged to opposing political groups, each with their own political agenda. Through disguised caricature and parody of their rivals’ work, the poets expressed and fueled the political conflict between their factions. Professor Sidwell rereads the principal texts of Aristophanes and the fragmented remains of the work of his rivals in the light of these arguments for the political foundations of the genre.

The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodern Fiction by Bran Nicol — Postmodern fiction presents a challenge to the reader: instead of enjoying it passively, the reader has to work to understand its meanings, to think about what fiction is, and to question their own responses. Yet this very challenge makes postmodern writing so much fun to read and rewarding to study. Unlike most introductions to postmodernism and fiction, this book places the emphasis on literature rather than theory. It introduces the most prominent British and American novelists associated with postmodernism, from the ‘pioneers’, Beckett, Borges and Burroughs, to important post-war writers such as Pynchon, Carter, Atwood, Morrison, Gibson, Auster, DeLillo, and Ellis. Designed for students and clearly written, this Introduction explains the preoccupations, styles and techniques that unite postmodern authors. Their work is characterized by a self-reflexive acknowledgment of its status as fiction, and by the various ways in which it challenges readers to question common-sense and commonplace assumptions about literature.

China and India in the Age of Globalization by Shalendra D. Sharma — The rise of China and India is the story of our times. The unprecedented expansion of their economic and power capabilities raises profound questions for scholars and policymakers. What forces propelled these two Asian giants into global pacesetters, and what does their emergence mean for the United States and the world? With intimate detail, Shalendra D. Sharma’s China and India in the Age of Globalization explores how the interplay of socio-historical, political, and economic forces has transformed these once poor agrarian societies into economic powerhouses. Yet, globalization is hardly a seamless process, as the vagaries and uncertainties of globalization also present risks and challenges. This book examines the challenges both countries face and what each must do to strike the balance between reaping the opportunities and mitigating the risks. For the United States, assisting a rising China to become a responsible global stakeholder and fostering peace and stability in the volatile subcontinent will be paramount in the coming years.

Cosmopolitan Communications by Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris — Societies around the world have experienced a flood of information from diverse channels originating beyond local communities and even national borders, transmitted through the rapid expansion of cosmopolitan communications. For more than half a century, conventional interpretations, Norris and Inglehart argue, have commonly exaggerated the potential threats arising from this process. A series of fire-walls protect national cultures. This book develops a new theoretical framework for understanding cosmopolitan communications and uses it to identify the conditions under which global communications are most likely to endanger cultural diversity. The authors analyze empirical evidence from both the societal level and the individual level, examining the outlook and beliefs of people in a wide range of societies. The study draws on evidence from the World Values Survey, covering 90 societies in all major regions worldwide from 1981 to 2007. The conclusion considers the implications of their findings for cultural policies.

Democracy and Moral Conflict by Robert B. Talisse — Why democracy? Most often this question is met with an appeal to some decidedly moral value, such as equality, liberty, dignity or even peace. But in contemporary democratic societies, there is deep disagreement and conflict about the precise nature and relative worth of these values. And when democracy votes, some of those who lose will see the prevailing outcome as not merely disappointing, but morally intolerable. How should citizens react when confronted with a democratic result that they regard as intolerable? Should they revolt, or instead pursue democratic means of social change? In this book, Robert Talisse argues that each of us has reasons to uphold democracy – even when it makes serious moral errors – and that these reasons are rooted in our most fundamental epistemic commitments. His original and compelling study will be of interest to a wide range of readers in political philosophy and political theory.

The Israeli Peace Movement by Tamar S. Hermann — This book deals with the predicament of the Israeli peace movement, which, paradoxically, following the launching of the Oslo peace process between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993, experienced a prolonged, fatal decline in membership, activity, political significance, and media visibility. After presenting the regional and national background to the launching of the peace process and a short history of Israeli peace activism, the book focuses on external and internal processes and interactions experienced by the peace movement, after some basic postulates of its agenda were actually, although never explicitly, embraced by the Rabin government. The analysis brings together insights from social movement theory and theories on public opinion and foreign and security policy making. The book’s conclusion is that, despite its organizational decline and the zero credit given to it by the policymakers, in retrospect it appears that the movement contributed significantly to the integration of new ideas for possible solutions to the Middle East conflict in the Israeli mainstream political discourse.

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