Ciaran Driver, Andreas Hess, Karen McAulay, A. W. Purdue and Sharon Wheeler...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

January 9, 2014

Ciaran Driver, professor of financial and management studies, Soas, University of London, is reading Andrew Smithers’ The Road to Recovery: How and Why Economic Policy Must Change (Wiley, 2013). “Rebalancing requires investment, but UK and US investment rates are the lowest for decades. Smithers persuasively sees this as structural. Shareholder value has made organic growth unattractive; CEOs distribute rather than retain, reflecting high-powered incentives. Bill Lazonick originated the idea that share buy-backs depress innovation, but here we have it from the horse’s mouth. Policymakers take note!”

The Society of Equals, by Pierre Rosanvallon

Andreas Hess, senior lecturer in sociology, University College Dublin, is reading Pierre Rosanvallon’s The Society of Equals (Harvard University Press, 2013). “During the American and French revolutions, striving for liberty and achieving equality were not seen as contradictory. Modern notions of individualism and individual choice have undermined that bond: we pay merely lip service to equality while our body politic has never been less inclined to correct unequal distribution of income and wealth. Rosanvallon warns us what is at stake here: modern democracy will not survive if it avoids the question of equality.”

Paratexts, by Gerard Genette

Karen McAulay, music and academic services librarian, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is reading Gerard Genette’s Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation (Cambridge University Press, 1997). “I read this with excitement and a sense of homecoming. Genette methodically explores paratext, peritext and epitext (title, ascription, preface, notes, etc) in French literature, supplemented by examples from Walter Scott’s novels. These were invaluable, since my fascination with paratext focuses on historic Scottish song and dance collections, and I’m more familiar with Scott than French literature. Much food for thought.”

The New York Times: Complete World War II 1939-1945, edited by Richard Overy

A. W. Purdue, visiting professor in history, Northumbria University, is reading The New York Times: Complete World War II 1939-1945 (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2013), edited by Richard Overy. “This draws on an extensive archive of New York Times coverage, not just during the war, but from the Versailles Settlement to the start of the Cold War. This weighty volume will be invaluable to historians and all those interested in a conflict that did so much to shape our present. As expected from a distinguished historian, this is a judicious selection, covering campaigns and home fronts; Overy provides contextualising introductions.”

Romps, Tots and Boffins, by Robert Hutton

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Robert Hutton’s Romps, Tots and Boffins: The Strange Language of News (Elliott & Thompson, 2013). “An elderly sub-editor once told me that the ultimate tabloid headline would be ‘Gay naked vicar in mercy dash to Palace to save Di’. Bloomberg political correspondent Hutton produces a cheeky romp (sorry!) through the often bizarre language of journalese. It’s a book to dip into – and occasionally to cringe at – and hope you haven’t committed any of the listed sins!”

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