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A World of Letters: Yale University Press, 1908-2008by Nicholas A. Basbanes
Synopses & Reviews
For Yale University Press, which celebrates its hundredth birthday in 2008, the century has been an eventful one, punctuated with no few surprises. The Press has published more than 8,000 volumes through the years, scores of bestsellers and award-winners among them, and these books have come to fruition through the efforts of a host of colorful authors, editors, directors, board members, and others of intellectual and literary renown.
With an ear always cocked for an interesting tale, one of todayand#8217;s best storytellers presents an anecdote-rich chronicle of the Pressand#8217;s first 100 years. Nicholas Basbanes, whom David McCullough has called and#147;the leading authority of books about books,and#8221; quickly convinces us that the Pressand#8217;s history, while bookish, is also lively and fascinating. Basbanes explores the saga behind the acquisition of Eugene Oand#8217;Neilland#8217;s blockbuster play, the all-time Yale bestseller Long Dayand#8217;s Journey into Night; the controversy sparked in 1965 by publication of The Vinland Map; the origins of the groundbreaking Annals of Communism series, initiated in the wake of the Soviet Unionand#8217;s demise; and many more highlights from Press annals. Basbanes looks at the reasons behind the publisherand#8217;s remarkable financial success, and he completes A World of Letters with a glimpse at the new initiatives that will propel the Press into a second exciting century.
"Over the past 100 years, Yale University Press has ably steered a course through publishing's stormy seas, producing a host of memorable scholarly monographs as well as bestsellers. Bibliophile Basbanes (A Gentle Madness) offers a glowing tribute, reviewing the press's history from its first book in 1909 (Benjamin W. Bacon's The Beginning of the Gospel Story) to its recent establishment of a digital edition of Stalin's personal archive. Drawing on interviews and records, Basbanes chronicles the press's growth; the canny decisions to publish definitive collections of the writings of important American figures, such as Benjamin Franklin; and groundbreaking titles like David Reisman's The Lonely Crowd, Paul Tillich's The Courage to Be and Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae. Basbanes captures the personalities of the press's directors, from the first, George Day, to the current one, John Donatich, as well as publication committee members and authors, including historian Edmund S. Morgan and former Yale president A. Bartlett Giamatti. Yale remains a model of publishing vitality, but the internal goings-on of even so prestigious a press will interest only a few." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
With an ear always cocked for an interesting tale, Nicholas Basbanes, the prize-winning author of A Gentle Madness, recounts the lively stories behind the first hundred years of publishing at Yale University Press. Filled with colorful characters and surprising events, the book is a fascinating case study about scholarship and books in America.
About the Author
Nicholas Basbanesand#8217;s first book, A Gentle Madness, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His subsequent books include Patience and Fortitude, Among the Gently Mad, A Splendor of Letters, and Every Book Its Reader. He lives in North Grafton, MA.
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