A World of Letters: Yale University Press, 1908-2008

Overview

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...

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Overview

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 today’s best storytellers presents an anecdote-rich chronicle of the Press’s first 100 years. Nicholas Basbanes, whom David McCullough has called “the leading authority of books about books,” quickly convinces us that the Press’s history, while bookish, is also lively and fascinating. Basbanes explores the saga behind the acquisition of Eugene O’Neill’s blockbuster play, the all-time Yale bestseller Long Day’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 Union’s demise; and many more highlights from Press annals. Basbanes looks at the reasons behind the publisher’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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In its 100 years, Yale University Press (YUP) has displayed a severe dedication to what a book needs to be: that is, magisterial. As Basbanes (A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books) illustrates, such a goal is achieved only by decades of effort by university presidents, board members, directors, editors, authors, philanthropists, and alumni of every stripe. Any university press will concentrate on scholarly publication, often not considering commercial success; yet, Basbanes explains, YUP has wisely adapted to the ever-changing world of publishing, thus maintaining financial stability while other presses have floundered. YUP has published over 8000 books, including Eugene O'Neill's critically acclaimed best seller Long Day's Journey into Night. For a century, the press has continued to thrive, its books an enduring demonstration of the art and know-how of research, writing, editing-and the reading of print material; long may it live! Recommended for public and academic libraries.
—Robert L. Kelly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300115987
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 10/21/2008
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,001,888
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Basbanes’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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Table of Contents

1 The Formative Decades 1

2 The Middle Years 71

3 Enriching the Mix 121

4 A Press in Transition 167

Notes 197

Centennial Highlights 209

Illustrations follow pages 80 and 128

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