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Joy de Menil

Director of Belknap Publishing

Photo of Joy de Menil, Director of Belknap Publishing

“In addition to my work overseeing the Belknap Press and paperback lists, I am eager to publish scholars at the top of their fields who want to reach a wide audience and young and original thinkers with a strong voice on the page. I look for books with ideas that matter. I work closely with my authors to structure and shape their books and guide them through every aspect of publication with an eye towards securing maximal coverage.

I recently published a magisterial reconsideration of the checkered record of American psychiatry by Andrew Scull and three important histories of race in America: Traveling Black by Mia Bay, which won the Bancroft Prize; Justice Rising, a propulsive account of Bobby Kennedy’s key role in pushing the federal government to take a stronger position on desegregation and urban renewal; and Why White Liberals Fail, a history of race and southern politics from FDR to Trump. On the cusp of the COVID outbreak I published an unexpectedly timely book on the cutting-edge science of Healthy Buildings by Joseph Allen, an indoor aerosol scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, and Harvard Business School’s John Macomber. I’ve also worked on a computer scientist’s bracing rebuttal to the overblown claims of AI enthusiasts, a study of bystander inaction and “moral rebels” by social psychologist Catherine Sanderson, a Supreme Court environmental whodunnit by Harvard Law School professor Richard Lazarus, a beautifully crafted look at how fascism really ruled women by Victoria de Grazia, a lively and expansive account of the women’s suffrage movement by Susan Ware, and a groundbreaking reconsideration of the moral foundations of Renaissance political thought by James Hankins. Many of my books have won prizes and been chosen as book of the year: Tom Zoellner’s Island on Fire won the National Book Critics Circle award, The Perfect Fascist and Virtue Politics won the Marraro Prize, and Traveling Black has so far won four awards.

I spent twenty-five years as a trade publisher before joining Harvard University Press, working at Random House and Viking, where I published Andrew Roberts’s Churchill and Napoleon; Dan Jones’s The Plantagenets, The Wars of the Roses, and The Templars; Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity; Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects; Arkady Ostrovsky’s Orwell Prize–winning The Invention of Russia; Sonia Purnell’s Clementine; William Stixrud and Ned Johnson’s The Self-Driven Child; Alec Ryrie’s Protestants; Mike Lofgren’s The Deep State; Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919; Ann Wroe’s Pontius Pilate; Bernard Lewis’s The Crisis of Islam; V (formerly Eve Ensler)’s The Vagina Monologues; and Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, among others.”

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Desperate Remedies: Psychiatry’s Turbulent Quest to Cure Mental Illness, by Andrew Scull, from Harvard University Press

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