David Bell, David Eastwood, Pat Hudson, Rebecca Huxley-Binns and Sharon Wheeler...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 5, 2013

David Bell, vice-chancellor, University of Reading, is reading Michael Bracewell’s Re-make/Re-model: Art, Pop, Fashion and the Making of Roxy Music, 1953-1972 (Faber, 2007). “Roxy Music were ‘cool’ epitomised, and two universities helped to shape that identity. Bryan Ferry studied at avant-garde Newcastle, and saxophonist Andy Mackay was part of the circle around Reading’s ‘creatively progressive, actively trans-media’ fine art department. A great book that left me wondering whether academic departments still have such a role in influencing popular culture.”

Johannes Brahms Complete Symphonies in Full Score, edited by Hans Gál

David Eastwood, vice-chancellor and principal, University of Birmingham, is reading Johannes Brahms Complete Symphonies in Full Score (Dover Publications, 1974), edited by Hans Gál. “Scores speak to us in the profoundest language. Few can read them as the great conductors do, but I glimpse their profundity. None more so than Brahms’ great four symphonies, from the searing striving of the opening to the first, through the autumnal beauty of the Poco Allegretto of the third, to the remarkable passacaglia that ends the fourth. On the page you see the composer’s art at the most self-disciplined and hear music of ineffable stoicism that sees all and never flinches.”

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste, by Philip Mirowski

Pat Hudson, honorary research professor, London School of Economics, and professor emeritus of history, Cardiff University, is reading Philip Mirowski’s Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (Verso, 2013). “Neoliberalism’s ideological resilience is examined in a narrative that is funny yet serious, accessible but not simplistic. The Emperor of Economics and his generals, even to the left, have no new clothes. They have abandoned philosophy and history and have co-opted the state. We need to shout about it, but we also need more inspiration about the way forward.”

Laughing at the Gods, by Allan C. Hutchinson

Rebecca Huxley-Binns, professor of legal education, Nottingham Law School, is reading Allan C. Hutchinson’s Laughing at the Gods: Great Judges and How They Made the Common Law (Cambridge University Press, 2012). “A fascinating book, as much about the nature of greatness as about what makes for a great judge. Maverick and stubborn, greatness seems to lie also in the ability to make the innovative and previously unforeseen solutions seem absolute common sense. A persuasive account of eight great judges, providing food for thought about their legacies.”

Circus, by Alistair MacLean

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Alistair MacLean’s Circus (Harper, 2009). “One of the guilty pleasures of my misspent youth was wallowing in thrillers. My brother and I both have fond memories of devouring dog-eared Alistair MacLean and Desmond Bagley books. Somehow I missed Circus. It’s a touch staid by modern standards, with some rather clunky dialogue, but it rattles along briskly and a good yarn never dates.”

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