Jonathan Eaton, Roger Morgan, Craig Newbery-Jones, R. C. Richardson and Sharon Wheeler...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

January 23, 2014

Jonathan Eaton, higher education research coordinator, Newcastle College, is reading Ronald Hutton’s Pagan Britain (Yale University Press, 2013). “This magisterial synthesis of archaeology, history, anthropology and folklore traces religious belief in Britain from the emergence of modern humans to the conversion to Christianity. Hutton convincingly argues that scholarly interpretations of our religious past have been fundamentally shaped by contemporary cultural trends. Ultimately the limited evidence for pagan beliefs lends itself to multiple interpretations.”

Diasporas and Diplomacy, by Marie Gillespie and Alban Webb

Roger Morgan, former professor of political science, European University Institute, Florence, is reading Diasporas and Diplomacy: Contact Zones of the BBC World Service (1932-2012), edited by Marie Gillespie and Alban Webb (Routledge, 2012). “This stimulating collection surveys the World Service’s multilingual output, in which expatriate groups have played key roles. We see the BBC’s international broadcasting transformed from the pre-1939 Empire Service for colonial expatriates into the foreign language services in which London-based diasporas interact with BBC editorial standards and the diplomatic guidance of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”

Crime News in Modern Britain, by Judith Rowbotham, Kim Stevenson and Samantha Pegg

Craig Newbery-Jones, lecturer in law, Plymouth University, is reading Judith Rowbotham, Kim Stevenson and Samantha Pegg’s Crime News in Modern Britain: Press Reporting and Responsibility, 1820-2010 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). “Following the stark findings of the Leveson inquiry and the recent grant of the Royal Charter on press regulation, media ethics and responsibility is a highly contentious subject. This extremely interesting monograph traces the historical development of crime reporting and raises pertinent questions around the accountability of the media in the digital age. A thought-provoking and engaging read.”

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park, by Sinclair McKay

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Sinclair McKay’s The Secret Life of Bletchley Park (Aurum, 2010). “Although this best-selling account does not neglect to deal with the stunningly innovative technical breakthroughs of the famous codebreaking centre, it is chiefly a book about some of the people, both celebrated and rank and file, who worked there. It is the effective, deeply embedded, shared and long-lived culture of secrecy that stands out – something that today’s twittering society no doubt struggles to comprehend.”

The Resistance Man, by Martin Walker

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Martin Walker’s The Resistance Man (Quercus, 2013). “Walker’s descriptions of French cuisine almost make this vegetarian feel hungry! It’s a deceptively cosy series that mixes the picturesque Vézère area with the murkier parts of French history – and has village policeman Bruno investigating murders without missing his lunch. Aside from a gay plot thread that Walker approaches with the subtlety of a dumper truck, it’s a relaxing read.”

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