Sir David Bell, E. Stina Lyon, June Purvis, Sharon Wheeler and Richard Whittle...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 20, 2014

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor, University of Reading, is reading Ian Rankin’s Saints of the Shadow Bible (Orion, 2013). “John Rebus, the dissolute but profoundly moral policeman, returns. He encounters a recent Rankin creation, Inspector Malcolm Fox from Police Complaints, as they go head-to-head on a 30-year-old case. In parallel, Rebus investigates the entanglement between the son of a prominent Scottish nationalist and the daughter of a London businessman. You can smell Edinburgh from the pages of this sparse but gripping novel.”

Book review: The Political Theory of Judith N. Shklar, by Andreas Hess

E. Stina Lyon, professor emeritus of educational developments in sociology, London South Bank University, is reading Andreas Hess’ The Political Theory of Judith N. Shklar: Exile from Exile (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). “Female scholars seldom get the insightful treatment Hess gives the political theorist Judith Shklar in this satisfying biography. Her personal trajectory from refugee to Harvard elite academic is here interwoven with her originality as a liberal democratic thinker, although today she is known more as a teacher of ‘great men’ than for her own writings. Justice needs good arguments. Hers need revisiting.”

Book review: Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste, by Caroline Bressey

June Purvis, professor of women’s and gender history, University of Portsmouth, is reading Caroline Bressey’s Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste (Bloomsbury, 2013). “Catherine Impey (1847-1923), a British Quaker, is best known for her high-profile collaboration with Ida B. Wells on anti-lynching. This first biography places her within international humanitarian networks that campaigned against racial prejudice. From her home in Street, Somerset, the energetic Impey edited the radical periodical Anti-Caste that condemned racial prejudice in the British Empire and America. An impressive and enlightening read.”

Book review: The Skeleton Road, by Val McDermid

Sharon Wheeler, visiting lecturer in journalism, Birmingham City University, is reading Val McDermid’s The Skeleton Road (Little, Brown, 2014). “McDermid throws Scotland, the University of Oxford and Croatia into the mix to produce a chilling and intelligent thriller. A skeleton is found on the roof of an abandoned Edinburgh building. DCI Karen Pirie lands the cold case, which uncovers atrocities from the Balkans conflict. A raft of strong female characters means we’ll be spared Robson Green in the lead role in any TV version.”

Book review: The Witch Biker's Ride Through the Balance Sheet, by Richard France

Richard Whittle, senior lecturer in behavioural economics, Manchester Metropolitan University, has just reread Richard France’s The Witch Biker’s Ride Through the Balance Sheet (CreateSpace, 2013). “An informative and thoroughly innovative approach to introductory finance and accounting. I followed the book’s major characters through a variety of scenarios in which they practically demonstrate accounting and finance techniques. Although it is a very strange thing to say of a study text, this is genuinely enjoyable and engaging as well as imparting ‘stick in your mind’ practical lessons.”

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