Peter Baldwin

Peter Baldwin is Professor of History at UCLA, and Global Distinguished Professor at NYU. His recent books are Command and Persuade: Crime, Law, and the State across History (MIT Press); Fighting the First Wave: Why the Coronavirus Was Tackled So Differently across the Globe; and The Copyright Wars: Three Centuries of Trans-Atlantic Battle. He serves on the boards of the New York Public Library, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Wikimedia Endowment, the Central European University, the Danish Institute of Advanced Studies, and as chair of the Board of the Center for Jewish History.

  • Athena Unbound

    Athena Unbound

    Why and How Scholarly Knowledge Should Be Free for All

    Peter Baldwin

    A clear-eyed examination of the open access movement: past history, current conflicts, and future possibilities.

    Open access (OA) could one day put the sum of human knowledge at our fingertips. But the goal of allowing everyone to read everything faces fierce resistance. In Athena Unbound, Peter Baldwin offers an up-to-date look at the ideals and history behind OA, and unpacks the controversies that arise when the dream of limitless information slams into entrenched interests in favor of the status quo. In addition to providing a clear analysis of the debates, Baldwin focuses on thorny issues such as copyright and ways to pay for “free” knowledge. He also provides a roadmap that would make OA economically viable and, as a result, advance one of humanity's age-old ambitions.

    Baldwin addresses the arguments in terms of disseminating scientific research, the history of intellectual property and copyright, and the development of the university and research establishment. As he notes, the hard sciences have already created a funding model that increasingly provides open access, but at the cost of crowding out the humanities. Baldwin proposes a new system that would shift costs from consumers to producers and free scholarly knowledge from the paywalls and institutional barriers that keep it from much of the world.

    Rich in detail and free of jargon, Athena Unbound is an essential primer on the state of the global open access movement.

    • Hardcover $34.95
  • Command and Persuade

    Command and Persuade

    Crime, Law, and the State across History

    Peter Baldwin

    Why, when we have been largely socialized into good behavior, are there more laws that govern our behavior than ever before? Voted one of the best law books of 2021 by the UK Times.

    Levels of violent crime have been in a steady decline for centuries—for millennia, even. Over the past five hundred years, homicide rates have decreased a hundred-fold. We live in a time that is more orderly and peaceful than ever before in human history. Why, then, does fear of crime dominate modern politics? Why, when we have been largely socialized into good behavior, are there more laws that govern our behavior than ever before? In Command and Persuade, Peter Baldwin examines the evolution of the state's role in crime and punishment over three thousand years.

    Baldwin explains that the involvement of the state in law enforcement and crime prevention is relatively recent. In ancient Greece, those struck by lightning were assumed to have been punished by Zeus. In the Hebrew Bible, God was judge, jury, and prosecutor when Cain killed Abel. As the state's power as lawgiver grew, more laws governed behavior than ever before; the sum total of prohibited behavior has grown continuously. At the same time, as family, community, and church exerted their influences, we have become better behaved and more law-abiding. Even as the state stands as the socializer of last resort, it also defines through law the terrain on which we are schooled into acceptable behavior. This title is also available in an Open Access edition.

    • Hardcover $34.95
    • Paperback $24.95