Matthew Feldman, Les Gofton, Tim Hall, Bruce Scharlau and James Underwood...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 21, 2013

Matthew Feldman, co-director of the Centre for Fascist, Anti-fascist and Post-fascist Studies, Teesside University, is reading Rory Yeomans’ Visions of Annihilation: The Ustasha Regime and the Cultural Politics of Fascism, 1941-1945 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). “Shocking stuff: Catholic piety and asceticism, even a ‘Movement against Swearing’, coupled with genocide against Serbs, travellers and Jews. Yeomans focuses on gender and culture in the ripping-apart of Yugoslav society during the Second World War, which ‘shocked even hardened Nazi commanders’. This paradoxical regime remains a challenge to comprehension – albeit one made morbidly accessible here.”

Eminent Hipsters, by Donald Fagen

Les Gofton, teaching fellow in the department of sociology, Durham University, is reading Donald Fagen’s Eminent Hipsters (Jonathan Cape, 2013). “An unalloyed joy. Part evocation of baby boomer obsessions, part biography and mostly celebration: of science fiction and TV detectives, of jazz and film-music madeleines ranging from Connee Boswell to Miles Davis. It is poignant to see heroes reduced to billing below the puppet shows and the animal acts, and their audiences are ageing – ‘There are bodies on slabs decomposing, and mummies’ – but who can resist such caustic candour?”

The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly

Tim Hall, professor of interdisciplinary social studies, University of Winchester, is reading Michael Connelly’s The Black Echo (Orion, 1992). “The first of Connelly’s hugely successful Harry Bosch police procedural series. Connelly can’t claim great originality in the themes and territories he covers – Raymond Chandler and Ed McBain have been here before – and Bosch is the archetypal wounded, maverick outsider cop with an unerring moral compass. But the books are brilliantly plotted and catch Los Angeles’ paranoia over the past 20 years; a city both ever-changing and strangely constant.”

The Dream Team Nightmare, by Portia Tung

Bruce Scharlau, senior teaching fellow in computing science, University of Aberdeen, is reading Portia Tung’s The Dream Team Nightmare: Boost Team Productivity Using Agile Techniques (Pragmatic, 2013). “A ‘choose your own adventure’ gamebook-format novel about coaching agile software teams that will take you less than a day to read…even if you end up restarting after you’ve been ‘fired’. This little book by a consultant-coach has much to teach anyone interested in agile development about the coaching mindset and practices.”

Autobiography, by Morrissey

James Underwood, doctoral candidate and tutor in English literature, University of Hull, is reading Morrissey’s Autobiography (Penguin, 2013). “Is this an appropriate place to inform my supervisor that all work on the doctorate has stopped? Anyone who feels the poetry of Morrissey’s lyrics should welter in his astonishingly well-written prose. His evocation of post-war Manchester – a chilling blend of social realism and the Gothic – is a triumph.”

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