What are you reading? – 23 March 2017

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

March 23, 2017
Reading books
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Carina Buckley, instructional design manager, Southampton Solent University, is reading Deborah Cadbury’s The Lost King of France: The Tragic Story of Marie-Antoinette’s Favourite Son (Fourth Estate, 2003). “In most accounts of French revolutionary history, the tyrant Louis XVI is succeeded by his brother, known as Louis XVIII. But what happened to Louis XVII? According to Cadbury, this poor boy, King of France in name only, was imprisoned in dire conditions until he died at the age of 10. Her sympathies lie fully with the unfortunately royal family, with Marie Antoinette presented as a doting mother whose last thoughts were for her children and Louis simply a man unable to make a decision. Although an unusual approach, it is certainly an effective way of humanising well-worn historical events by presenting them almost wholly through the eyes of a suffering family, and in doing so provides a new and insightful perspective on the tragedies of the French Revolution.”

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Speaking of Faith: The Winchester Dialogues, edited by John Miller (Canterbury Press, 2016). “This book is one example of Winchester Cathedral’s fruitful engagement with its local and regional communities and offers a verbatim record of what was said by interviewees, interviewer and questioners at a noteworthy series of public events held in the city. Three contributions come from leading churchmen including Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Four are provided by past and present politicians, and four more are offered by writers, journalists and broadcasters such as the late P. D. James and John Simpson. All have an autobiographical dimension and many display personal Winchester connections, while others deal with the Middle East, Africa and India. Church/state relations, recognition of our common humanity, and faith and spirituality are insistent themes. Local in origin, this is certainly a far from parochial book.”

Sharon Wheeler, visiting lecturer in media and communications, Coventry University, is reading More Than Cricket and Football: International Sport and the Challenge of Celebrity, edited by Joel Nathan Rosen and Maureen M. Smith (University Press of Mississippi, 2016). “The subtitle might well be ‘and more than just American sportspeople as well’. It includes a wide-ranging series of articles where there’s not the slightest trace of baseball or American football – although there is a basketball piece focusing on Chinese giant Yao Ming. Also along for the ride are Andy Murray and his ambivalent relationship with the UK media (British if he wins, Scottish if he loses), and motorcycling star Valentino Rossi (not a sport we see often in academic works). A cricketer and a footballer or two do sneak in, but they’re Sri Lankan, African and a stray British maverick.”

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