There are three types of student book-buyers, generally speaking. The first has plenty of money and feels no qualms about spending hundreds of dollars for a textbook. And these student have little difficulty paying the $1,200-$1,400 for a year's worth of books and supplies. The second group of students is able to scrape together money for books, working extra hours, cutting expenses here and there. These students line up to sell the textbooks back to university bookstores as soon as they possibly can -- and they are able to do it, assuming it is not one of the frequent years when a new edition of a textbook, mostly with cosmetic alterations, replaces the old. The third set of students is like the second, except that the money from the books ultimately comes from student loans. The enormity of student loans in general dwarfs money spent just on books -- another drop in the bucket; and the corporate book industry exploits this fact its full advantage. This book, then, is a humble attempt to push back against this system. It is not the only way or perhaps even the best way to try to reorient higher education away from corporate abuse -- but it is one way, at least.
The second reason for this book is that I hope it generates collaboration and sets an example for faculty-produced content. This project has taken me well beyond my core capacities, and I know that to push further and deeper, I need the help of others. In addition, the univocal nature of this book presents many limitations. Intellectual endeavors are made richer by a polyphony of voices and perspectives -- especially when these perspectives are deep and thoughtful. I would welcome the help of other faculty, who would like to make my work better, to engage in discussion and debate within the pages of the book itself.
Finally, I believe in the content of this project. Though many books cover many parts of this story -- and do so much better than I can -- I haven't yet discovered a book that covers the years from 1914-1945 in the same multidisciplinary, global way as I do here. I will let the reader judge whether or not I have at least partially succeeded in this endeavor.
I'd like to thank Pieter Tryzelaar for his work helping with the design of the first version of this project. I'd also like to thank the staff at the Center for Technology Enhanced Learning at the University of Southern Maine for supporting this project, with special thanks to Rucha Modak and Damien Michaud for their advice and support.