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Sunday, November 10, 2019

75 books from university presses that will help you understand the world | Culture -

These books will help you understand the world and make it a better place by Constance Grady, Staff Writer at Vox. 

Photo: The City Library of Stuttgart, Germany, on October 31, 2019. Agron Beqiri/Nur/Getty Images
Under the Donald Trump administration, misinformation is as constant and pervasive as oxygen. Which means that rigorously researched and fact-checked books are a deeply attractive resource — but they’re not always easy to find. 

Traditional publishing doesn’t have a built-in fact-checking system. It leaves the task (and expense) of fact-checking entirely to its authors. The result is that every few months, a major book is torpedoed by the news that it is riddled with errors.

The latest version of this story came earlier this week, when a new book from Hachette’s conservative imprint Center Street claimed that under President Barack Obama, the CIA complained of “nonstop PC [political correctness] meetings.” That claim then became a Fox News headline, and kicked off a round of right-wing outrage as stories in conservative outlets like the Washington Examiner followed. PC in this context, however, did not stand for “political correctness.” It stood for “principals committee” meetings, and when news of that error hit Twitter, it drove another round of outrage, this time from the left, with mocking headlines popping up on progressive outlets across the web...

University presses get peer reviewed. That’s a level of quality control most books don’t have.
“University press books are consistently the most reliable source of longform content based on deep research that has been vetted by experts,” says Kathryn Conrad, director of the University of Arizona Press and president of AUPresses.

Unlike traditional publishers, university presses peer review their books, meaning that they send each book to scholars who are experts in the subject matter to obtain their seal of approval before they send a book to the printers. (Disclosure: I used to work at a university press.) When the system works the way it’s supposed to, readers of a university press book can trust that a team of experts has ensured that what they’re reading is accurate and up to date...

The books on the list cross disciplines from linguistic anthropology to environmental studies to history to border studies to sociology, but all of them are designed to be readable even to a non-scholarly audience. That’s not always the case for university press books, many of which are written for scholars who already know all the jargon and backstory of a given field — but almost all university presses do aim to publish trade books for a lay audience alongside their academic books, and the trade books all get peer reviewed, too.