Give to Cornell University Press and help us change the world—one book at a time

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Contribute to the mission of Cornell University Press on Giving Day.
(University Press Gift Fund Number: 317123)

This is a crucial moment in the transformation of Cornell University Press. Never in our 148-year history have our books been more important, while the business model for the publication of primary scholarship has never been under greater siege. We are stuck between the bookends of mission and margin—embracing our role in the tenure certification process and publishing first books while exploring initiatives that will help us remain financially viable. 

Cornell University Press books won an unprecedented sixty awards across a range of disciplines in 2016. We published books such as Deadly River about the UN cover-up of the cholera epidemic in Haiti and Violence as a Generative Force detailing an unknown Bosnian genocide. We carefully craft the world’s stories such as former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan’s book, My Nuclear Nightmare, about the Fukushima disaster. Our bestselling titles reflect the burning issues of the moment: race in America, voter fraud, grand strategy, human rights, international security, war, and nationalism. Books like these can change the world. Continue reading “Give to Cornell University Press and help us change the world—one book at a time”

Give to Cornell University Press and help us change the world—one book at a time

Art and Protest: A Jewish Folktale

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Photo by Martha Cooper

By Steve Zeitlin, author of The Poetry of Everyday Life

A story. Once upon a time in the old country, there was a tiny town in a wine-producing region of Eastern Europe. The villagers in this region heard that a revered and renowned rabbi was planning to visit their town on a grand tour. So they called a meeting and said, “We must host a great celebration in the rabbi’s honor.”

Then one of the villagers suggested, “Since we all make wine, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a wine festival where the rabbi could taste the very best of our wine?”

And then someone countered, “But each family only makes a little wine each year. A big celebration would use up a family’s entire supply of wine for a year.”

So they devised a plan. They put a big oak barrel in the center of town, and every week, just after sundown on Shabbat, every household was to bring a small pitcher of red wine and pour it into the cask. Then, by the end of the months, they would have a full cask.


If everyone thought the way that Mendel and Rebecca did, what would that mean for the protests? Perhaps that’s why the election turned out the way it did—so many people stayed home.


In one of the village families, Mendel went home and said to his wife Rebecca, “Listen, you know that everyone is going to be bringing wine, and we’re not a rich family. There’s going to be so much wine in that one cask, ours certainly will make no difference. Why don’t we just fill our pitcher up with water? When I take it to the barrel—I’ll pour it right at the lip—I guarantee you that no one will notice.” And that’s what he did, every week. Continue reading “Art and Protest: A Jewish Folktale”

Art and Protest: A Jewish Folktale

Doctors at War – A Modern Nonfiction Update to M*A*S*H

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Cambridge Professor Embedded in Afghanistan Military Hospital
Explores the Courage, Compassion, and Comic Tragedy of Modern War

“There is a massive propaganda industry, embraced by all institutions from schools to the press and churches, that seeks to deny the stark facts de Rond chronicles. This is why the British Ministry of Defense did not want the book published. De Rond shines a light on a reality we are not supposed to see. It is a reality, especially in an age of endless techno war, we must confront if we are to recover the human.”
—Chris Hedges, author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

We weren’t supposed to read Mark de Rond’s new book Doctors at War.

A high-ranking medical officer in the British Ministry of Defense insisted de Rond write this book, and do so without fear of censorship. However, upon its completion, the ministry told de Rond it would oppose the book due to his exceptionally candid and true-to-life account of a trauma surgical team at work in the “world’s bloodiest” field hospital, Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan. Despite such pressure, Mark de Rond has chosen to publish the book.

Doctors at War tells of the highs and lows of surgical life in hard-hitting detail, bringing to life a morally ambiguous world in which good people face impossible choices, and in which routines designed to normalize experience have the unintended effect of highlighting war’s absurdity. Mark de Rond, a professor of organizational ethnography at Cambridge University, lifts the cover on a world rarely ever seen, let alone written about, and helps rebalance popular and overly heroic, adrenaline packed tales of what it is like to go to war. Here the crude and visceral coexist with the tender and affectionate, as do pleasure and guilt, kindness and cruelty, courage and cowardice, and the profound and pointless. In sum, it provides a unique insight into the lived experience of war from the point of view of good people forced to make difficult choices in an absurd environment.

Purchase Doctors at War today on our website and receive a special 30% discount. Use promo code 09CAU6.

For more information please contact Jonathan Hall: jlh98@cornell.edu

Interview with Mark de Rond:
Continue reading “Doctors at War – A Modern Nonfiction Update to M*A*S*H”

Doctors at War – A Modern Nonfiction Update to M*A*S*H

You Were Sweet, Little Databases, But We Outgrew You

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To: Sage House Staff
From: Patrick Garrison, Data Processing Manager
Subject: New Press-wide Database

All,

The PWDB¹ has now been transmitted in final form to Bob Oeste for AllBooks². Our database has now been frozen in time. Full search capability remains, but nothing can be changed. It is what it is, for the ages to come. Goodbye old friend, along with your good buddy CIS³. Change, the inevitable, irresistible force of the Universe, has caught up with you both.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: 

Our revels now are ended. These our databases,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The inventory reports, the price change worksheets,
The solemn reworking of the PWDB, the great mission of the Press itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a dust jacket behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

And when we wake, we will find All Books waiting for us, in a forest of Long Leaves4. In another year, we will not think it so long in coming.

Best,
Patrick Continue reading “You Were Sweet, Little Databases, But We Outgrew You”

You Were Sweet, Little Databases, But We Outgrew You

Gary Ferguson on NOTCHES and The Conversation

Gary Ferguson, author of Same-Sex Marriage in Renaissance Rome, was interviewed by Katherine Harvey on the blog NOTCHES: (re)marks on the history of sexuality. Read the interview here. Ferguson also wrote about the book on The Conversation: A same-sex marriage ceremony in . . . Renaissance Rome? (The latter piece was also picked up by the Daily Beast: Inside Renaissance-Era Rome’s Gay Marriage.)

 

 

Gary Ferguson on NOTCHES and The Conversation

Archives in Bosnia in Minutes and Hours

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The town of Kulen Vakuf, site of mass killings in 1941

By Max Bergholz, author of Violence as a Generative Force: Identity, Nationalism, and Memory in a Balkan Community.

Max Bergholz is on tour in 2017. Find upcoming events.


“You have fifteen minutes to look around. After that I’m going for coffee with my colleagues, and besides, God save me if someone found out I let a foreigner down here!” These words—spoken to me on a September afternoon in 2006 by an archivist in Bosnia-Herzegovina—marked the moment my book began.

I was in one of the archive’s basement storage depots. Many of the light bulbs were burned out, while a handful of others flickered. The impatient archivist handed me a flashlight, and pointed me down a dark set of shelves. “I think what you’re looking for might be down there,” she yelled just before exiting the depot. I stood in silence for a moment, and then switched on the flashlight. After ten minutes of straining to read the handwriting on filthy, uncatalogued stacks of blue folders, my eyes froze on these words: “Sites of Mass Executions.” Continue reading “Archives in Bosnia in Minutes and Hours”

Archives in Bosnia in Minutes and Hours

Jeffrey Alan Hadler, 27 March 1968 – 11 January 2017

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By Tamara Loos

A dear friend and alum of Cornell’s Southeast Asia Program, Jeff Hadler, succumbed to adrenal carcinoma in January. Jeff studied Indonesian history at Cornell in the 1990s, where he worked with Takashi Shiraishi, David Wyatt, Ben Anderson, and Paul Gellert. After graduating from Cornell, Jeff was immediately hired by the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies. They not only tenured him, but also appointed him in 2014 as chair of the department.

80140100342750lIn conversations with Jeff after doctors informed him of the unfathomable diagnosis, he talked about his two most vital concerns. He spoke with sweet conviction about his love for his family—his wife, Kumi; his daughters, Maia and Noe; and his parents and sister—and how fortunate he was to be able to tell them now, in the moment, how crucial they all were to him. He also talked about his scholarly legacy, especially within Indonesia. Jeff’s first book, the Benda Award-winning Muslims and Matriarchs: Cultural Resilience in Indonesia through Jihad and Colonialism (Cornell University Press, 2008), was translated into Indonesian and published in 2010. He felt the book, especially after it was translated, had made and would continue to make a difference to Indonesians. It was crucial to him that his scholarship had a positive impact in the country that he had first visited in high school, and that later had become the dedicated focus of his academic career. Continue reading “Jeffrey Alan Hadler, 27 March 1968 – 11 January 2017”

Jeffrey Alan Hadler, 27 March 1968 – 11 January 2017

Poetry to Ease the Final Passage

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Photo by Sarah Dargan

By Steve Zeitlin, author of The Poetry of Everyday Life

“We all have to face this thing sometime,” my wife’s father, Lucas Dargan, told me around the time he turned ninety-nine.

Six months later, he found himself facing precisely that “thing.” A retired forester who planted over a million trees in his lifetime, he had split wood every morning until two years before.

Tonight, he lay in a hospital bed at the McCleod hospital in Florence, South Carolina, unable to properly swallow or get out of bed unassisted. Family members took turns staying overnight with him, and this night was my turn. At one point, I thought he was sleeping. I was working on my computer, when I heard lines from a poem coming from the other side of the room:

I am dying, Egypt, dying!
Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast,
And the dark Plutonian shadows
Gather on the evening blast Continue reading “Poetry to Ease the Final Passage”

Poetry to Ease the Final Passage

The Labor of Addiction: A Personal History of Smoking in the Workplace

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Gregory Wood in 1993

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”  —Mark Twain

By Gregory Wood, author of Clearing the Air: The Rise and Fall of Smoking in the Workplace

As I wrote about the histories of working-class smoking, tobacco control, and nicotine addiction in my book, Clearing the Air: The Rise and Fall of Smoking in the Workplace, I was often reminded of my own difficult past as a heavily addicted cigarette smoker. In fact, the project stemmed from two important sources: first, my discovery of unique documents that detailed the history of working-class smoking practices at Hammermill Paper Company in Erie, Pennsylvania, during 1915; and the insights gained from my own hellish experiences with nicotine addiction. For eleven years, throughout what was my twenties, I was a regular smoker who came to know very well the power of addiction and how tobacco use facilitated challenges to managers’ authority at work.

I began smoking as a new student in college in order to socialize with other individuals who happened to be smokers: in other words, I started using tobacco to fit in with a new peer group. My addiction to nicotine unfolded very quickly, occurring over a period of no more than a month in the fall semester of 1992. Sadly, I took to smoking very, very easily. By December 1992, toward the end of my first semester in college, I needed nearly a pack of cigarettes every day in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Continue reading “The Labor of Addiction: A Personal History of Smoking in the Workplace”

The Labor of Addiction: A Personal History of Smoking in the Workplace

Understanding the use of Kompromat in Russian Politics: An Excerpt from Alena V. Ledeneva’s “How Russia Really Works”

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“To keep kompromat on enemies is a pleasure. To keep kompromat on friends is a must.”

The word kompromat has no direct equivalent in English. Its literal translation—“compromising material”—refers to discrediting information that can be collected, stored, traded, or used strategically across all domains: political, electoral, legal, professional, judicial, media, or business. A recent dictionary of contemporary terminology defines kompromat as an abbreviated term for disparaging documents on a person subject to investigation, suspicion, or blackmail, derived from 1930s secret police jargon. In its contemporary context, the term is strongly associated with kompromat wars—intrigues exercised through the release of often unsubstantiated or unproven information (documents, materials)—which are damaging for all those involved.


The term is strongly associated with kompromat wars—intrigues exercised through the release of often unsubstantiated or unproven information—which are damaging for all those involved.


Hungarian sociologist Akos Szilagyi defines kompromat as the publication (or blackmail with the threat of publication) of information, documents, evidence, and revelations that are related to a genre of denunciation (donos), exposure/unmasking (razoblachenie), slander (kleveta), and allegations that can destroy or neutralize political opponents or business competitors. He notes that kompromat is associated with political indecency, and points to the double meaning of the suffix mat, which is an abbreviation of the Russian word materialy (materials) as well as a Russian word for “swear language.” In English, the essence of kompromat is best grasped by the phrase “blackmail files” that are gathered or fabricated for political or business purposes.

Continue reading “Understanding the use of Kompromat in Russian Politics: An Excerpt from Alena V. Ledeneva’s “How Russia Really Works””

Understanding the use of Kompromat in Russian Politics: An Excerpt from Alena V. Ledeneva’s “How Russia Really Works”