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“Agriculture plays a key role in economic growth and development. As recently as 1800, more than half the population in most European countries worked on farms and in fields, though this shifted with the industrial revolution. Agricultural efficiencies were not immediately apparent until the middle of the 20th century when yields began to increase and they have continued to grow at a steady pace since. At the same time, inflation-adjusted agricultural commodity prices have been trending downward as increases in supply outpaced increases in demand. Food is an essential good, and while its price is currently low due to its abundance, it is responsible for a large consumer surplus given the highly inelastic demand. Understanding the factors that contribute to the upward trend in yields is of first-order importance for food security and human welfare. This book contains eight chapters that examine the factors behind the remarkably steady increase in yields around the globe, in order to better understand whether this trend can continue into the future and whether it will impose significant environmental externalities. The volume provides fresh and original analyses using methodological innovations to analyze recently available micro-level data sets”–
Corporate governance for public companies in the United States today is a fragile balance between shareholders, board members, and CEOs. Shareholders, who are focused on profits, put pressure on boards, who are accountable for operations and profitability. Boards, in turn, pressure CEOs, who must answer to the board while building their own larger vision and strategy for the future of the company. In order for this structure to be successful in the long term, it is imperative that boards and CEOs come to understand each other’s roles and how best to work together. Drawing on four decades of experience advising boards and CEOs on how to do just that, Thomas A. Cole offers in CEO Leadership a straightforward and accessible guide to navigating corporate governance today. He explores the recurring question of whose benefit a corporation should be governed for, along with related matters of corporate social responsibility, and he explains the role of laws, market forces, and politics and their influence on the governance of public companies. For corporate directors, he provides a comprehensive examination of the roles, responsibilities, and accountability the role entails, while also offering guidance on how to be as effective as possible in addressing both routine corporate matters and special situations such as mergers and acquisitions, succession, and corporate crises. In addition, he offers practical suggestions for CEOs on leadership and their interactions with boards and shareholders. Cole also mounts a compelling case that a corporate culture that celebrates diversity and inclusion and has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct is critical to long-term business success. Filled with vignettes from Cole’s many years of experience in the board room and C-suite, CEO Leadership is an invaluable resource for current and prospective directors, CEOs, and other senior officers of public companies as well as the next generation of corporate leaders and their business and financial advisors.
Should the United States be open to commerce with other countries, or should it protect domestic industries from foreign competition? This question has been the source of bitter political conflict throughout American history. Such conflict was inevitable, James Madison argued in The Federalist Papers, because trade policy involves clashing economic interests. The struggle between the winners and losers from trade has always been fierce because dollars and jobs are at stake: depending on what policy is chosen, some industries, farmers, and workers will prosper, while others will suffer. Douglas A. Irwin’s Clashing over Commerce is the most authoritative and comprehensive history of US trade policy to date, offering a clear picture of the various economic and political forces that have shaped it. From the start, trade policy divided the nation–first when Thomas Jefferson declared an embargo on all foreign trade and then when South Carolina threatened to secede from the Union over excessive taxes on imports. The Civil War saw a shift toward protectionism, which then came under constant political attack. Then, controversy over the Smoot-Hawley tariff during the Great Depression led to a policy shift toward freer trade, involving trade agreements that eventually produced the World Trade Organization. Irwin makes sense of this turbulent history by showing how different economic interests tend to be grouped geographically, meaning that every proposed policy change found ready champions and opponents in Congress. As the Trump administration considers making major changes to US trade policy, Irwin’s sweeping historical perspective helps illuminate the current debate. Deeply researched and rich with insight and detail, Clashing over Commerce provides valuable and enduring insights into US trade policy past and present.
We often talk loosely of the “tyranny of the majority” as a threat to the workings of democracy. But, in ancient Greece, the analogy of demos and tyrant was no mere metaphor, nor a simple reflection of elite prejudice. Instead, it highlighted an important structural feature of Athenian democracy. Like the tyrant, the Athenian demos was an unaccountable political actor with the power to hold its subordinates to account. And like the tyrant, the demos could be dangerous to counsel since the orator speaking before the assembled demos was accountable for the advice he gave. With Dangerous Counsel, Matthew Landauer analyzes the sometimes ferocious and unpredictable politics of accountability in ancient Greece and offers novel readings of ancient history, philosophy, rhetoric, and drama. In comparing the demos to a tyrant, thinkers such as Herodotus, Plato, Isocrates, and Aristophanes were attempting to work out a theory of the badness of unaccountable power; to understand the basic logic of accountability and why it is difficult to get right; and to explore the ways in which political discourse is profoundly shaped by institutions and power relationships. In the process they created strikingly portable theories of counsel and accountability that traveled across political regime types and remain relevant to our contemporary political dilemmas.
The mid-twentieth-century marketing world influenced nearly every aspect of American culture–music, literature, politics, economics, consumerism, race relations, gender, and more. In Engineered to Sell, Jan L. Logemann traces the transnational careers of consumer engineers in advertising, market research, and commercial design who transformed capitalism from the 1930s through the 1960s. He argues that the history of marketing consumer goods is not a story of American exceptionalism. Instead, the careers of immigrants point to the limits of the “Americanization” paradigm. Logemann explains the rise of a dynamic world of goods and examines how and why consumer engineering was shaped by transatlantic exchanges. From Austrian psychologists and little-known social scientists to the illustrious Bauhaus artists, the emigrés at the center of this story illustrate the vibrant cultural and commercial connections between metropolitan centers: Vienna and New York; Paris and Chicago; Berlin and San Francisco. By focusing on the transnational lives of emigré consumer researchers, marketers, and designers, Engineered to Sell details the processes of cultural translation and adaptation that mark both the midcentury transformation of American marketing and the subsequent European shift to “American” consumer capitalism.
Film has shaped modern society in part by changing its cultures of memory. Film, Music, Memory reveals that this change has rested in no small measure on the mnemonic powers of music. As films were consumed by growing American and European audiences, their soundtracks became an integral part of individual and collective memory. Berthold Hoeckner analyzes three critical processes through which music influenced this new culture of memory: storage, retrieval, and affect. Films store memory through an archive of cinematic scores. In turn, a few bars from a soundtrack instantly recall the image that accompanied them, and along with it, the affective experience of the movie. Hoeckner examines films that reflect directly on memory, whether by featuring an amnesic character, a traumatic event, or a surge of nostalgia. As the history of cinema unfolded, movies even began to recall their own history through quotations, remakes, and stories about how cinema contributed to the soundtrack of people’s lives. Ultimately, Film, Music, Memory demonstrates that music has transformed not only what we remember about the cinematic experience, but also how we relate to memory itself.
Many observers of Kenya’s complicated history see causes for concern, from the use of public office for private gain to a constitutional structure historically lopsided towards the executive branch. Yet efforts from critics and academics to diagnose the country’s problems do not often consider what these fiscal and political issues mean to ordinary Kenyans. How do Kenyans express their own political understanding, make sense of governance, and articulate what they expect from their leaders? In For Money and Elders, Robert W. Blunt addresses these questions by turning to the political, economic, and religious signs in circulation in Kenya today. He examines how Kenyans attempt to make sense of political instability caused by the uncertainty of authority behind everything from currency to title deeds. When the symbolic order of a society is up for grabs, he shows, violence may seem like an expedient way to enforce the authority of signs. Drawing on fertile concepts of sovereignty, elderhood, counterfeiting, acephaly, and more, Blunt explores phenomena as diverse as the destabilization of ritual “oaths,” public anxieties about Satanism with the advent of democratic reform, and mistrust of official signs. The result is a fascinating glimpse into Kenya’s past and present and a penetrating reflection on meanings of violence in African politics.
“We could have been called a lot of things: brazen vandals, scared kids, threats to social order, self-obsessed egomaniacs, marginalized youth, outsider artists, trend setters, and thrill seekers. But, to me, we were just regular kids growing up hard in America and making the city our own. Being ‘writers’ gave us something to live for and ‘going all city’ gave us something to strive for; and for some of my friends it was something to die for.” In the age of commissioned wall murals and trendy street art, it’s easy to forget graffiti’s complicated and often violent past in the United States. Though graffiti has become one of the most influential art forms of the twenty-first century, cities across the United States waged a war against it from the late 1970s to the early 2000s, complete with brutal police task forces. Who were the vilified taggers they targeted? Teenagers, usually, from low-income neighborhoods with little to their names except a few spray cans and a desperate need to be seen—to mark their presence on city walls and buildings even as their cities turned a blind eye to them. Going All City is the mesmerizing and painful story of these young graffiti writers, told by one of their own. Prolific LA writer Stefano Bloch came of age in the late 1990s amid constant violence, poverty, and vulnerability. He recounts vicious interactions with police; debating whether to take friends with gunshot wounds to the hospital; coping with his mother’s heroin addiction; instability and homelessness; and his dread that his stepfather would get out of jail and tip his unstable life into full-blown chaos. But he also recalls moments of peace and exhilaration: marking a fresh tag; the thrill of running with his crew at night; exploring the secret landscape of LA; the dream and success of going all city. Bloch holds nothing back in this fierce, poignant memoir. Going All City is an unflinching portrait of a deeply maligned subculture and an unforgettable account of what writing on city walls means to the most vulnerable people living within them.
While the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance are usually associated with Italy’s historical seats of power, some of the era’s most characteristic works are to be found in places other than Florence, Rome, and Venice. They are the product of the diversity of regions and cultures that makes up the country. In Endless Periphery, Stephen J. Campbell examines a range of iconic works in order to unlock a rich series of local references in Renaissance art that include regional rulers, patron saints, and miracles, demonstrating, for example, that the works of Titian spoke to beholders differently in Naples, Brescia, or Milan than in his native Venice. More than a series of regional microhistories, Endless Periphery tracks the geographic mobility of Italian Renaissance art and artists, revealing a series of exchanges between artists and their patrons, as well as the power dynamics that fueled these exchanges. A counter history of one of the greatest epochs of art production, this richly illustrated book will bring new insight to our understanding of classic works of Italian art.
Are we deranged? The acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so. How else to explain our imaginative failure in the face of global warming? In his first major book of nonfiction since In an Antique Land, Ghosh examines our inability–at the level of literature, history, and politics–to grasp the scale and violence of climate change. The extreme nature of today’s climate events, Ghosh asserts, make them peculiarly resistant to contemporary modes of thinking and imagining. This is particularly true of serious literary fiction: hundred-year storms and freakish tornadoes simply feel too improbable for the novel; they are automatically consigned to other genres. In the writing of history, too, the climate crisis has sometimes led to gross simplifications; Ghosh shows that the history of the carbon economy is a tangled global story with many contradictory and counterintuitive elements. Ghosh ends by suggesting that politics, much like literature, has become a matter of personal moral reckoning rather than an arena of collective action. But to limit fiction and politics to individual moral adventure comes at a great cost. The climate crisis asks us to imagine other forms of human existence–a task to which fiction, Ghosh argues, is the best suited of all cultural forms. His book serves as a great writer’s summons to confront the most urgent task of our time.
Anthony C. Yu’s translation of The Journey to the West,initially published in 1983, introduced English-speaking audiences to the classic Chinese novel in its entirety for the first time. Written in the sixteenth century, The Journey to the West tells the story of the fourteen-year pilgrimage of the monk Xuanzang, one of China’s most famous religious heroes, and his three supernatural disciples, in search of Buddhist scriptures. Throughout his journey, Xuanzang fights demons who wish to eat him, communes with spirits, and traverses a land riddled with a multitude of obstacles, both real and fantastical. An adventure rich with danger and excitement, this seminal work of the Chinese literary canonis by turns allegory, satire, and fantasy.
With over a hundred chapters written in both prose and poetry, The Journey to the West has always been a complicated and difficult text to render in English while preserving the lyricism of its language and the content of its plot. But Yu has successfully taken on the task, and in this new edition he has made his translations even more accurate and accessible. The explanatory notes are updated and augmented, and Yu has added new material to his introduction, based on his original research as well as on the newest literary criticism and scholarship on Chinese religious traditions. He has also modernized the transliterations included in each volume, using the now-standard Hanyu Pinyin romanization system. Perhaps most important, Yu has made changes to the translation itself in order to make it as precise as possible.
One of the great works of Chinese literature, The Journey to the West is not only invaluable to scholars of Eastern religion and literature, but, in Yu’s elegant rendering, also a delight for any reader.