Author: Yale University Press

Beyond the University Makes a Splash

Wesleyan University recently sat down to talk to Michael S. Roth, president of the university and author of Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. The video and post originally appeared in Wesleyan University’s blog, which you can read here.

Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters by Michael S. RothA June 10 note to the President’s Office at Wesleyan grabbed attention—Harvard’s Office of Undergraduate Education wanted help in quickly obtaining 125 copies of Michael Roth’s new book to distribute to Harvard faculty members.

The email was indicative of the excitement that Roth’s latest book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters (Yale University Press), has generated since it was published in May. The sixth book that Roth has authored, it has received substantial coverage in the national media and has helped put into historical context today’s debates over the value of a broad, liberal education. Roth reminds readers that accusations about the impracticality of liberal education date back to the days of the Founding Fathers, and are never less convincing than now. He draws on the writings of prominent thinkers such as John Dewey, Jane Addams, W.E.B. Dubois and Thomas Jefferson to make the case for a pragmatic liberal education.

Reviews of the book have appeared in The Washington Post and Inside Higher Ed, while a number of related op-eds and essays by Roth have been published in outlets such as The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Boston Globe and The Daily Beast. President Roth has discussed his book with The Atlantic magazine, and on public radio stations around the country.

“We’ve been delighted with the amount of attention the book is getting, both on the local and national levels. It’s engaging precisely with the big and urgent questions out there about higher education, just as we hoped. President Roth has been a great spokesperson for defending the humanities, which have been under scrutiny of late,” said John Donatich, director of Yale University Press. “We are currently selling into a second printing of the book, and it’s very possible we could go into a third printing. We expect it to sell even more in paperback down the road.”

In addition, Chinese and Korean translations of the book are in the works.

Reviews of the book have been positive. Writing in The Washington Post, Christopher B. Nelson, president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, praises it as a “lucid, helpful and accessible account of the current challenges to higher education.”

“By presenting his argument historically, Roth, president of Wesleyan University, maintains a judicious distance from his subject and avoids the trap—all too enticing for a zealous advocate—of delivering a passionate apologia for a broad generalization. Instead, he gives us a substantial and lively discussion that allows the reader to maintain an open mind while examining the strengths and weaknesses of the several threads, each in its own turn,” writes Nelson.

And Kirkus Reviews writes: “While underscoring the democratic spirit of a liberal arts education, one designed to produce ‘active citizens rather than passive subjects,’ Roth traces how even the Founding Fathers of the republic restricted the education to patrician white males, excluding women, slaves and others—and that the question of whether farmers need to be able to read Shakespeare has long sparked debate. Between pragmatism and idealism, the author strikes a moderate, balanced approach. The result is more like a primer on the history of higher education than a manifesto.”

See all media coverage of Beyond the University here.

Read more about Beyond the University in this Wesleyan Connection article.

Should You Invest in Bitcoin? Here’s a Flowchart to Help You Decide.

Wildcat Currency CoverBitcoin is on the rise. The completely digital currency has been covered by Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, among others. Bitcoins have the power to buy anything from a hot dog at a Sacramento Kings NBA game to a hotel room at a Holiday Inn in Brooklyn. It’s a brave new financial world, or at least it might seem that way. According to Edward Castronova, author of Wildcat Currency: How the Virtual Money Revolution is Transforming the Economy, forms of monetary exchange not created by the federal government have existed for a long time. He cites airline miles and S&H Green Stamps as examples, but his underlying argument for Bitcoin’s legitimacy has less to do with 20th century precedents than with the nature of money itself.

Castronova discusses the ways economies spring up everywhere: in online games with internal currencies and in prisons where cigarettes become a medium of exchange.These economies tend to behave the same way “real” economies do, and as Castronova goes into the specifics of each financial community he sheds light on the general principles they confirm. The definition of money, the core idea behind banking, the way inflation works, and debates surrounding these and other issues all become clearer through the book’s telling case studies. These gestures allow the later sections of Wildcat Currency to delve into the implications of virtual currencies, and to seriously consider both the benefits and the drawbacks surrounding Bitcoin as economic, legal, and political entities begin to create policy to address it.

If you are interested in learning more, you can enter our Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Wildcat Currency! In addition, Edward Castronova has been answering questions in a Reddit AMA. And if you are thinking about trying Bitcoin yourself, take a look at this handy flowchart to find out whether you should invest.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Wildcat Currency by Edward Castronova

Wildcat Currency

by Edward Castronova

Giveaway ends July 31, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win


What SUP From Your Favorite University Presses, July 11, 2014

sup-300x209Welcome to our weekly roundup of news from university presses! Once again, there is a lot to share this week from our fellow academic publishing houses and much to learn on What SUP at the social university presses. This week, we see Ratatouille through new eyes, learn about indigenous ethnobotany, and analyze India’s national elections.

Columbia University Press argues that we should trust scientists even though most of us cannot directly evaluate scientific research. Naomi Oreskes, co-author of The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future, makes her case in the form of a TED Talk.

Fordham University Press shares an excerpt from What’s Queer About Europe? in which Laure Murat analyzes the rodent protagonist of Pixar’s Ratatouille (2007) through the lenses of sexuality and nationalism.

Johns Hopkins University Press considers the challenges ISIS may face in its attempt to seize and control Iraq. Mark N. Katz, author of Leaving without Losing, cites regional opposition, reaction to repression, and rifts among radicals as problems for almost any revolutionary movement, ISIS included.

McGill-Queen’s University Press explores the affinities among Indigenous peoples’ knowledge of plants and environments in northwestern North America. Nancy Turner, author of Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge, writes about the origins of her ethnobotanical research.

Temple University Press studies the way racial biases affect nurse-patient relationships in American hospitals. Lisa Ruchti, author of Catheters, Slurs, and Pickup Lines, outlines the problems that nurses of color face in a segment on Al-Jazeera America News.

Oxford University Press interviews pain specialist Mark Johnson about high and low tech ways of treating pain, what factors contribute  to chronic pain, and how Johnson’s research on Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation could affect the world.

Stanford University Press discusses India’s recent national elections, and the erosion of pluralism and minority rights they may herald, with the help of Narendra Subramanian, author of Nation and Family: Personal Law, Cultural Pluralism, and Gendered Citizenship in India.

Princeton University Press requests help from all members of the ornithological community in tracking the migratory connectivity of North American birds. The editorial team of The Atlas of Migratory Connectivity for Birds of North America will collect contributions through the end of 2014.

Brazil: An Introduction to a Rising Global Power

Brazil CoverBrazil may have lost badly to Germany in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Semifinals on Tuesday, but they are still competing on the world stage and may soon contend with Germany and other more established countries in the global economy. Indeed, a new book by Michael Reid argues that Brazil deserves consistent international recognition and attention, as it may well be one of the world’s most influential nations by 2030. In Brazil: The Troubled Rise of a Global PowerThe Economist‘s Latin American columnist describes the country’s tumultuous history, notes its achievements, and assesses the challenges that face Brazil if it is to live up to its potential.

Tom Jobim, the composer of “The Girl from Ipanema,” once said that “Brazil is not for beginners,” and Reid‘s book is both a guide for the perplexed and an insightful meditation for the already informed. To initiate the wholly uninitiated—and to whet your appetite—here are a few key pieces of information about Brazil’s economy and culture.

  • The nation is the world’s fifth largest country by area. It is in equal in size to the United States, and all twenty-eight countries of the European Union would fit comfortably inside Brazil’s territory.
  • Brazil is a deeply religious country, with a mix of Christian and African religions. Many Brazilians pray to both a Catholic saint and an African orixá (deity).
  • The country’s population of 200 million makes it the world’s fourth most populous democracy.
  • Brazilians love football so much that on days when the national team is playing in the World Cup, the country completely shuts down, and the streets of major cities effectively fall silent.
  • Brazil has the seventh-largest economy, but it is the third-largest exporter of food and the six-biggest manufacturing power.
  • In Brazil, loyalty to the family is key, and the family is in some ways the central institution of Brazilian society.
  • Brazilians devote more of their disposable income to beauty and personal care products than anyone else in the world.
  • The nation is both self-sufficient in oil and the world leader in plant-based fuels.

If you are interested in learning more about Brazil’s past, present, and possible future, don’t miss your chance to win a copy of Brazil: The Troubled Rise of a Global Power through our Goodreads giveaway. Make sure to enter by the end of the month!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Brazil by Michael Reid


by Michael Reid

Giveaway ends July 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Recommended Reading for the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China by Stephen RoachThe U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) is taking place in Beijing, China on July 9–10. In his new book, Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China, Stephen Roach addresses the current and prospective state-of-play in the economic relationship between China and the United States. As the S&ED approaches, we’ve asked him to weigh in on several key aspects of this important exchange between the world’s two largest and leading economies.

Yale University Press: What is the S&ED and why is it so important?

Stephen Roach: In an effort to formalize and coordinate high level exchanges on economic and financial issues between the U.S. and Chinese governments, a Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) was launched in December 2006 by Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. In 2009, the Obama Administration broadened the focus of the dialogue to include foreign policy and security discussions—hence, inserting an ampersand into the acronym (S&ED)—and reduced the frequency of engagement from twice a year to an annual meeting. The summit continues to rotate back and forth between Washington and Beijing. It brings together on a regular basis the largest delegation of senior government officials of both nations. Its core mission is to generate a “dialogue that will focus on addressing the challenges and opportunities that both countries face on a wide range of bilateral, regional, and global areas of immediate and long-term economic and strategic interest.” Bottom line: The S&ED is now the main event in the U.S.-China debate.

YUP: What is the mood heading into the upcoming S&ED?

SR: Not good. Tensions have intensified recently on three key fronts—trade and currency (again), cyberhacking, and maritime and territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Unsurprisingly, both nations are blaming the other for causing these problems. These are classic symptoms of the blame-game of codependency that I stress in Unbalanced—a penchant for partners to hold the other accountable for problems of ones own making. For its part, U.S. complaints are undoubtedly exaggerated by the domestic political cycle—a fairly typical outbreak of China bashing that has broad bipartisan appeal heading into national elections. China is also shaped by its own political agenda—ironic for a one-party system but in keeping with President Xi Jinping’s grass roots appeal for restoration of the so-called China Dream.

YUP: What do you see as the key issues in the U.S.-China economic relationship that you would like to see addressed at this year’s S&ED?

SR: The main problem with the economic relationship is that it has moved into the danger zone of a destructive codependency, where, as I wrote in a recent op-ed on Project Syndicate, both the U.S. and China are focused more on frictions than on synergies. The challenge is to embrace the opportunities of a more constructive interdependency. In that vein, I would like to see progress on two fronts—moving ahead on a U.S.-China bilateral investment treaty (BIT) and reestablishing military-to-military exchanges on the increasingly contentious cybersecurity issue.

YUP: How can the U.S. benefit from a bilateral investment treaty with China?

SR: China is at the early stage of a powerful transformation—moving from a manufacturing-led investment and export growth strategy to a services-led consumer society. In Unbalanced, I estimate that the growth in Chinese services will amount to some $12 trillion between now and 2025. In an environment of ever increasing IT-enabled global connectivity, many services have been transformed from nontradables to tradables. In the book, I calculate that the tradable portion of China’s coming bonanza in services growth could amount to between $4 and $6 trillion by 2025. No one is better positioned than the United States—the world’s largest and most competitive services economy—to garner a significant share of China’s coming wave of services development. The key will be having access to the growth in China’s domestic services market—a critical objective of a bilateral investment treaty.

YUP: Will China enjoy equal benefits from a bilateral investment treaty with the United States?

SR: Yes, that’s precisely the point. What we get on access to Chinese markets they will rightfully want and demand from us. That’s not to say that each nation replicates precisely the same industry and product-specific access of the other. There will be differences in what each would consider “out-of bounds”—the so-called negative list characteristic of all trade negotiations. But there can be no mistaking that China is now moving aggressively to invest in foreign markets, including those in the United States. According to a tabulation by the consultancy Rhodium Group, China’s outward-bound foreign direct investment into U.S. markets has just surpassed American fixed investment into China for the first time ever. Just as U.S. companies have sought to capture share in Chinese markets, it is only logical that China’s increasingly globalized multinationals seek to do the same in the United States. Both nations benefit from this aspect of economic integration—consistent with the familiar “win-win” mantra of globalization. Furthermore, if China and the United States reach accord on a rules-based framework of market access, that could well set the stage for broader trade liberalization, including China’s participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that the U.S. is currently negotiating with eleven other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Excluding China from TPP would be a mistake. Progress on a BIT could well avoid such a blunder. That would be icing on the cake.

YUP: But any treaty between nations would need to be approved by the U.S. Senate. What are the chances that a dysfunctional Congress would agree to such an action?

SR: Given the political polarization in Washington, there is little possibility of Senate approval of a BIT with China in the foreseeable future. Realistically, however, U.S. and Chinese negotiators still have considerable ground to cover before presenting any such accord to their respective governments for ratification. The soonest I could envision that occurring would be late 2015 or early 2016—hopefully squeezing through a narrow window in the U.S. political cycle between the upcoming off-year elections and the next Presidential campaign. While this may seem unrealistically optimistic—especially in light of the long and arduous negotiations that preceded China’s accession to the WTO in 2001—there is growing support for such action by trade experts in both countries. An especially strong appeal for a BIT was recently made on the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal by none other than Ambassadors Charlene Barshefsky and Long Yongtu, the two principal negotiators of the China-U.S. WTO accord. Notwithstanding the compelling arguments and growing support outside the Washington Beltway for a U.S.-China BIT, it would be naïve to presume that Congress will suddenly put aside its long-standing anti-China biases. That remains a major fly in the ointment.

YUP: How do the charges and counter-charges over cyberhacking affect the relationship and can the upcoming S&ED do anything to calm the waters on this key issue?

Stephen Roach

Stephen Roach: Photo by Tony Rinaldo

SR: Painfully, cyber-espionage has become a way of life in the Internet Era. In terms of the U.S.-China relationship it has become an increasingly contentious issue in the past eighteen months following the January 2013 release of a report by a leading cyber security firm Mandiant that documents alleged hacking of U.S. companies by a cyber intelligence unit embedded in the Chinese army. That report served as the basis of a recent U.S. Department of Justice indictment of five officers in the People’s Liberation Army on charges of espionage, theft of trade secrets, identity theft, and fraud. Following that indictment, China has withdrawn from the military-to-military exchanges that were established at last year’s S&ED in July 2013, denying the validity of U.S. allegations and arguing that the evidence of U.S. cyber hacking provided by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, portrays equally egregious violations by the United States. This is a classic example of how the finger pointing of codependency can get partners into serious trouble. A resumption of military-to-military exchanges on cyber issues offers the only viable avenue of resolution. The S&ED is the best platform to accomplish that objective.

YUP: How do China’s economic leaders currently view the U.S. economy?

SR: They still view the U.S. economy with great admiration—as the largest and strongest economy in the world and as an economy that sets the bar very high in terms of innovation, technological change, and entrepreneurial start-ups. In the same sense, they recognize that the U.S. was seriously wounded by the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09 and will take a long time to return to its former pre-crisis health and vigor. China continues to worry about macroeconomic imbalances—its own as well as those of the United States. It is attempting to address its imbalances by shifting to more of a consumer-led growth strategy. It is disappointed that America does not seem to be addressing its imbalances after the turmoil of such a wrenching crisis—preferring, instead, to sustain an historic shortfall of domestic saving and thereby still rely on others, such as China, to fill that void. China views this as an inherent source of macro-instability in the U.S. that leads to trade and currency tensions that always seem to be debated at S&EDs. The current Dialogue is hardly an exception in this regard—epically in light of the U.S. Treasury’s recent expression of concern (PDF) over a supposed shift in Chinese currency policy.

YUP: What do you advise as the steps needed to correct the “imbalance” in our two economies?

SR: The solution is conceptually quite simple—China needs to save less and consume more. America needs to do the opposite—consume less and save more and deploy that saving toward rebuilding competitiveness by investing in human capital, infrastructure, and manufacturing capacity. But talk is cheap—the heavy lifting of implementation is where the rubber meets the road. China. I believe, is on that road to rebalancing. The United States, I fear, is not. Instead, we remain fixated on the excesses of debt- and asset-driven consumer-led growth as the crux of the American Dream. In a codependent relationship, this asymmetrical response is troubling. America is likely to feel pressure as China shifts from surplus saving to saving absorption and thereby provides support for the safety net of its own citizens rather than offering such support for American citizens. In response, the United States will find itself lacking the external source of saving it has long relied on as the sustenance of its unbalanced growth. This is the subtext of what is likely to be an equally asymmetrical engagement at the upcoming S&ED in July 2014. It’s the “S” that remains the big problem for Washington—a failure to comprehend the strategic imperatives of America’s rebalancing agenda.

Stephen Roach is senior fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and School of Management, Yale University. Prior to that he was Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, and for the bulk of his career on Wall Street was Chief Economist of Morgan Stanley. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 1982, Mr. Roach served on the research staff of the Federal Reserve Board and was also a research fellow at the Brookings Institution. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from New York University. Roach has written extensively for the international media and appears regularly on television around the world.

What SUP From Your Favorite University Presses, July 4, 2014

sup-300x209Welcome to our weekly roundup of news from university presses! Once again, there is a lot to share this week from our fellow academic publishing houses and much to learn on What SUP at the social university presses. This week, we move beyond the language of tolerance, learn about the banjo, and celebrate the anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act. What did you read this week?

Columbia University Press gives away copies of The Nature of Value by Nick Gogerty. Enter by July 7 at 1:00 pm EST to win this book about economics, evolution, and investment.

As Pride Month comes to a close, New York University Press interviews Suzanna Danuta Walters, author of The Tolerance Trap. She articulates her frustration with the centrality of marriage to the gay rights movement and invites us to imagine a more progressive set of goals.

Harvard University Press follows Zephyr Teachout, author of Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, as she mounts a primary challenge to Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Oregon State University Press invites Barbara J. Scot to reflect on the origins of her new memoir, The Nude Beach Notebook, which engages with the landscape and culture of Oregon’s Sauvie Island.

Oxford University Press shares ten fun facts about the banjo from Oxford Reference. Our favorite fact is that an 1687 description of an early banjo in Jamaica referred to the instrument as a “strum strump.”

Pennsylvania State University Press asks what sets live theater apart from other media. According to Leslie Stainton, the author of Staging Ground: An American Theater and Its Ghosts, theater’s vitality arises out of its collaboration between audience and actor.

Stanford University Press celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, the law that effectively inaugurated the national parks system during the Civil War. Carleton Watkins, an inventive and talented photographer, arduously produced the incredible images of Yosemite that helped lead to the land’s preservation.

Syracuse University Press announces that We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War has won the 2014 Arab American Book Award for Non-Fiction. In the anthology, editors Nadje Al-Ali and Deborah Al-Najjar bring Iraq’s multitude of ethnicities, religions, and experiences into focus.

The University of California Press features an interview with Patricia Miller, author of Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church. The author spoke with Rev. Welton Gaddy on the show State of Belief about the nearly-fifty year struggle within the Catholic Church.

Spotlight on the O’Neill: 50 Years of American Theater, An Interactive Timeline


“At the O’Neill, we were all engaged with full-hearted passion in sometimes the silliest of exercises, and all in service of finding that wiggly, elusive creature, a new play.”—Meryl Streep

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary with  an exhibit by the New York Public Library and The O’Neill: The Transformation of Modern American Theater by Jeffrey Sweet, author of Something Wonderful Right Away. Sweet’s book introduces a key player in the history of American theater, showing how what began as a place to workshop plays instead of testing them on the road grew into much, much more. With a wide variety of classes, workshops, conferences, and programs the theater has attracted, fostered, and encouraged many of the most talented and influential forces in American drama, including Meryl Streep, August Wilson, John Patrick Shanley, and many others. Find out what’s happening at the O’Neill at the center’s website, and learn about the organization’s remarkable history with the timeline below.

What SUP From Your Favorite University Presses, June 27, 2014

sup-300x209Welcome to our weekly roundup of news from university presses! Once again, there is a lot to share this week from our fellow academic publishing houses and much to learn on What SUP at the social university presses. This week, we remember the Freedom Summer, protect linguistic heritage, and use Google Glass to record history. What did you read this week?

Columbia University Press interviews Alfredo Morabia, author of Enigmas of Health and Disease, about the history of epidemiology and the future of the field.

New York University Press remembers the Freedom Summer, the 1964 attempt to increase black voter registration in Mississippi. F. Michael Higginbotham, author of Ghosts of Jim Crow, describes how Mississippians violently resisted the efforts of civil rights organizations by bombing and burning black churches, businesses, and homes.

Harvard University Press congratulates Amy Clark, the winner of a three-year subscription to the new online version of the Dictionary of American Regional English. To win the subscription, the English professor and founding Director of the Appalachian Writing Project wrote a 500 word piece about “voiceplace” and linguistic heritage.

Johns Hopkins University Press tells the story of a string of Ohio Amish-on-Amish beard-cutting attacks and sits down with Donald Kraybill, author of Renegade Amish, a forthcoming book on the topic.

Oxford University Press considers the current shortcomings and future possibilities of using Google Glass to gather oral histories.

Pennsylvania State University Press shares an excerpt from A Sisterhood of Sculptors by Melissa Dabakis. The book focuses on American women living and working as sculptors in Rome during the mid-nineteenth century.

The University of Chicago Press touts the successes of Hillary Chute, author of Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists. Critics have praised her insight into the lives of artists including Lynda Barry, Alison Bechdel, Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, and Chris Ware.

The University of California Press features a guest post by Cecilia Menjívar, the author of Enduring Violence. The sociologist explains why she testifies as an expert witness in cases involving Central American women seeking asylum in the U.S., and how the domestic violence and “private terrors” they are fleeing arise out of structural, symbolic, and political violence.


Your Backyard Summer Reading: 10 Facts on Coexisting with Wildlife

Looking for a little motivation to reconnect with your backyard now that summer is officially hereJames Barilla’s My Backyard Jungle: The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover Who Turned His Yard into Habitat and Learned with It is the summer reading book for you. Now available in paperback, the book makes an excellent summer companion as you venture back out into the great outdoors. Barilla’s honest and engaging journey to cohabitate with wildlife inspires readers to asses on their own relationships with nature in an increasingly urban and suburban world, as former Yale Press intern Cara Borelli shared last summer.

Whether or not we welcome wildlife into our habitats, we do coexist in the same environments. Barilla opens each chapter with a statistic revealing the benefits and challenges of sharing our environment with wildlife. These facts, shared below, provide additional perspective on the intertwined relationships between human society and the natural environment.


1. “Twenty-two percent of endangered plant species are found in large metropolitan areas in the United States. Sixty-seven federally listed species are found in the San Francisco Bay area, fifteen around New York City.”

2. ”The Christmas Bird Count has used citizen scientists to gather data on wintering bird populations for more than a century. Last year, sixty thousand volunteers participated in counts that spanned the continent. Volunteers also conduct the Breeding Bird Survey every spring, covering three thousand routes across the country.”

3. ”United States fruit, vegetable, and nut growers lose $146 million worth of crops to wildlife damage each year. The primary culprits are deer, squirrels, and starlings.”

4. ”In India, ten primate species and subspecies live in proximity to human settlements. Of these, four are relatively abundant. The other six, however, are listed as Near Threatened, Vulnerable, or Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

5. ”Based on estimates of one rat per person, approximately 250 million rats inhabit urban and suburban areas in the United States. An estimated 1 billion more inhabit poultry farms, causing $19 billion in feed losses per year.”


Like My Backyard Jungle on Facebook for updates from James Barilla’s backyard

6. ”Approximately three thousand black bears inhabited Massachusetts before European colonization. By 1900, that number had been reduced to fewer than one hundred. Today, the bear population has reached three thousand again and is increasing by 8–10 percent each year.”

7. ”Approximately seventeen thousand native plant species inhabit the United States, and five thousand nonnative plants have escaped into native ecosystems. The “hotspots” for nonnative species in the United States are Florida, Hawaii, California, Louisiana, and the Great Lakes region.”

8. ”Managed European honeybees pollinate an estimated $14.5 billion worth of crops each year in the United States. Other “wild” pollinators service approximately $3 billion worth of crops.”

9. ”Wildlife trafficking is the third largest illegal trade in the world after drugs and weapons. In Brazil, an estimated forty million animals are taken from the wild every year. Only one in ten of these animals survives long enough to be sold.”

10. “Peregrine falcons nest on bridges, window ledges, rooftops, and clock towers. Fourteen pairs currently nest in New York City. Twenty pairs nest in London.”

For more from the author:


For more on the book:

How to Give a Great Speech: A Master Class with Winston Churchill

Literary ChurchillChances are good that you have been asked to speak in public before and will need to speak in public again. Giving a compelling speech is no easy task at any level, be it giving a TED Talk in front of hundreds or just summarizing a novel at school. You may wonder how anyone ever managed to do it with even a modicum of style. Jonathan Rose‘s new biography of Winston Churchill  shows how one of the greatest orators of all time conquered the challenge of winning over an audience. The Literary Churchill considers the politician as an author, a reader, and an actor, explaining how his favorite plays and books formed the foundation of his public persona. Rose’s analysis fits the man particularly well since, as The Daily Beast puts it, Churchill would be famous today on the strength of his writing alone. Churchill remains the only British Prime Minister to have won a Nobel Prize in Literature, and he published as a war correspondent, a biographer, a historian, and, less successfully, as a novelist.

It is one of Churchill’s unpublished pieces, however, that will come to your aid as you prepare to give a speech. In 1897, he wrote “The Scaffolding of Rhetoric,” a guide to oratory and a reflection on the nature of the craft. Rose interprets the essay as an indication of Churchill’s hushed enthusiasm for Oscar Wilde, and you can read an excerpt on the subject via Biographile. The guide has become useful to the scholar, but Churchill intended for the following topics to serve the beginning orator.


Churchill writes that “there is no more important element in the technique of rhetoric than the continual employment of the best possible word.” As Rose notes, this is bit of a truism. Of course one should choose the most effective words, but which words are the most effective? Churchill says that, contrary to popular assumptions, short, common words are better than long, uncommon ones. He cautions against puffing up one’s rhetoric with Greek and Latin, suggesting that punchy, Anglo-Saxon words “appeal with greater force to simple understandings.” Rose admits that this passage tempted him to write “e.g. blood, sweat, tears” in the margin.


One must also attend to the way the words flow together, Churchill advises. He reminds the reader of the power of sound, and says that the sentences of the best orators become “long, rolling and sonorous,” with “a cadence which resembles blank verse rather than prose.” Rose offers a biographical insight here, noting that Churchill tended to write his speeches in something like vers libre, poetry based on speaking patterns, rather than continuous paragraphs.

Churchill V

Churchill, one week after his “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” speech


Churchill discusses the way careful repetition and modulation can help build an argument toward its climax. A speaker can encourage enthusiasm by employing a variety of images and facts “all pointing in a common direction” such that the audience can anticipate the conclusion before it is reached. Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” speech again rings in one’s ears as the speaker follows his own advice to great effect.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.


A speaker, Churchill writes, can use apt comparisons to produce conviction in an audience. He says that analogies can “translate an established truth into simple language” or “aspire to reveal the unknown.” The passage goes on to suggest that analogies are “among the most formidable weapons of the rhetorician” and that “the effect upon the most cultivated audience is electrical.” Churchill quotes some examples, but to 21st century readers they testify to the imperialism, sexism, and racism of 19th century British politicians rather than to their rhetorical talent. Churchill’s own prose, however, displays some flair for analogy, as he uses the phrases “formidable weapons” and “electrical” to conjure the word “power” without using it outright.


Churchill writes that in emotional speeches one may use language “so wild that reason recoils.” The most persuasive orators sweep their audiences off their feet with phrases that hit upon the group sentiment and amplify it to an extreme. In political oratory, these phrases “become the watchwords of parties, and the creeds of nationalities.” Rose notes that Churchill used this kind of hyperbolic register often, and one can see him employing it at the end of the “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” speech, in which he moves swiftly from country to empire to millennia of human progress.

Chances are good that your next public speaking opportunity will not decide the fates of empires. Nevertheless, you will want to speak accurately and beautifully. You will want to convince and inspire. You will want your audience to remember your message and how impressively you delivered it. In this pursuit you will find no example more memorable, more inspiring, or more literary than Winston Churchill.