A Dignitary Visits

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Former Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan spoke at Cornell University March 28, 2017.

On Tuesday, March 28th, former Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan spoke to an audience of more than eight hundred people at the Statler Auditorium on the Cornell University campus. His visit was the capstone event in the publication of his book My Nuclear Nightmare: Leading Japan through the Fukushima Disaster to a Nuclear-Free Future. We published his book in February this year, translated into English by Jeffrey S. Irish from the original Japanese.


The work of the CUP team to acquire and publish this book is a perfect example of the way in which we are striving to help change the world one book at a time.


Mr. Kan’s book and lecture, part of the Distinguished Speaker Series from the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, focused on the events of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. From our perspective, Mr. Kan’s visit, the lecture, the packed house, and the seemingly never-ending line of eager book buyers waiting for a signed copy and photo opportunity with the former prime minister can only be seen as an unqualified success. Continue reading “A Dignitary Visits”

A Dignitary Visits

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

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”

Hiding from History: South Carolina and the Confederate Battle Flag

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Meili Steele opened his 2005 book, Hiding from History, with an essay about South Carolina’s attempt in 1999 to neutralize the controversy over its flying of the Confederate battle flag. The state’s chosen solution, Steele argues in this brief excerpt, was an act of political expediency that cut short a necessary public debate—one that needed to include a serious examination of American history and culture.

Six years ago I was reading the local newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, and discovered that the state legislature was proposing to put the public understanding of history to a referendum. The focus of the referendum was whether the flying of the Confederate battle flag over the statehouse was a fitting memorial to past traditions or a symbol of the legacy of racism. The legislature had raised the flag over the statehouse in 1962 at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement; however, now that the flag’s presence had become controversial, many legislators wanted to avoid a public stand. By calling for a referendum on the flag, the legislators hid from what properly should have been a public debate by appealing to democratic procedures.  Continue reading “Hiding from History: South Carolina and the Confederate Battle Flag”

Hiding from History: South Carolina and the Confederate Battle Flag

Making Sense of Ukraine

As the world reacts to events in Ukraine, everyone has advice for the U.S. president:

What Obama Should Do About Russia, According to Everyone

Among those quoted is Michael McFaul, recent U.S. ambassador to Russia and author of Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin. Other books on the Cornell University Press list that will illuminate current events include:

Contested Tongues: Language Politics and Cultural Correction in Ukraine by Laada Bilaniuk
After Newspeak: Language Culture and Politics in Russia from Gorbachev to Putin by Michael S. Gorham
Children of Rus’: Right-Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation by Faith Hillis
Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the New Abroad by David D. Laitin
From Ruins to Reconstruction: Urban Identity in Soviet Sevastopol after World War II by Karl D. Qualls
Eurasia’s New Frontiers: Young States, Old Societies, Open Futures by Thomas W. Simons Jr.
Communities of the Converted: Ukrainians and Global Evangelism by Catherine Wanner

Making Sense of Ukraine

Mehran Kamrava on the transition in Qatar

Mehran Kamrava, author of Qatar: Small State, Big Politics, says of this week’s news:

“After nearly two decades in power, Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, has transferred power to his son and Heir Apparent, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The new emir will, no doubt, have his own style, rely more and more on a team of his own personal allies and circle of insiders, and will surely bring a different flavor to Qatar’s highly personalized politics. And the symbolic components of Qatari culture—be they language, or art, or Islam—are likely to benefit from greater political patronage in the future than has been the case for the last eighteen years or so. But the substance of Qatari politics, both domestically and in the foreign policy arena, is unlikely to change anytime soon.”

Mehran Kamrava on the transition in Qatar

Daniel Aldrich Awarded Fulbright Research Fellowship

Daniel Aldrich, author of Site Fights: Divisive Facilities and Civil Society in Japan and the West, has been awarded a Fulbright research fellowship for 2012-2013 to study the ongoing recovery process from the Tohoku disaster in Japan. Aldrich has distinguished himself as an authority on the event:

Japan’s 3/11 Triple Catastrophe Endures in Broken Families, Divided Towns (Bloomberg)
Social Networks and Japan’s 3/11 Disaster (Asia Pacific Memo)
Fukushima One Year Later (National Bureau of Asian Research)
Activists Challenge Japan’s “Nuclear Village” (Salon)
Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Sparks Renewed Activism (Eurasia Review)

Daniel Aldrich Awarded Fulbright Research Fellowship

Catholics and Contraception: Leslie Woodcock Tentler in the New York Times

Cornell University Press author Leslie Woodcock Tentler, author of Catholics and Contraception: An American History is consulted in today’s edition of the New York Times: Obama Shift on Providing Contraception Splits Critics.

Here’s an excerpt:
“Tentler said: ‘Part of what is going on is a larger authority issue of who speaks for the church. And I think most Catholics would take exception to the bishops’ argument that only the bishops get to say what is Catholic morality in very difficult situations. It also reflects the unresolved status of the teaching on contraception, which is widely violated not just by Catholics, but also by the clergy, who don’t even talk about the issue.’”

Catholics and Contraception: Leslie Woodcock Tentler in the New York Times