What are you reading? – 10 March 2016

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

March 10, 2016
Circle of closely-grouped books photographed from above

Nick Bevan, pro vice-chancellor and director of library and student support at Middlesex University, recently finished reading Eric Rhode’s A History of the Cinema from its Origins to 1970 (Penguin, 1978). “This classic is not without its frustrations: the font size is too small, the film reviews can be idiosyncratic, and historically important events are sometimes lost in a busy narrative. Nevertheless, it is comprehensive in scope and skilfully (at times lyrically) relates cinema history to the culture and politics of the time. When I have watched more movies, I will reread it!”

Aminul Hoque, lecturer in education, Goldsmiths, University of London, is reading George Rupp’s Beyond Individualism: The Challenge of Inclusive Communities (Columbia University Press, 2015). “A powerful yet simple message emanates from this philosophical book: that there is a world that exists beyond Europe and North America that is diverse in terms of language, ideology, religion, culture, tradition and ethnicity. The challenge for Western cultures governed by individualism is not to reject, but to embrace and engage with this ‘myriad’ of difference.”

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Simon Winchester’s Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire (Penguin, 2003). “An epic journalistic adventure packed with travel anecdotes, both the author’s own and many others. More generally it brings together an uncomfortably ill‑assorted tale of loyalties, neglect and betrayals represented in the fag end of the once-mighty British Empire. This second edition allows for some poignant revisitings, not least after the handover of Hong Kong.”

A. W. Purdue, visiting professor of history, Northumbria University, is reading Peter Frankopan’s The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (Bloomsbury, 2015). “The Silk Roads were a major means of economic and cultural transmission between Europe and Asia, but the significance of Frankopan’s ambitious, enthralling book lies in the subtitle; he locates the major dynamics of the world’s history not just in the impact of trade upon the recipients at the journey’s ends, but in the Central Asia through which the traffic passed, ‘the bridge between east and west’.”

Sharon Wheeler, visiting lecturer in journalism, Birmingham City University, is reading Simon Griffin’s Fucking Apostrophes (Hyperbolic, 2015). “This is possibly not one to give to your easily shockable maiden aunt – although she’d probably nod approvingly at Griffin’s efforts to improve people’s command of English grammar! He’s a Leeds-based designer and says he wrote it for colleagues who are bad at using apostrophes but good at swearing. It should be thrust into the hand of every student – and a fair few lecturers!”

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