Sir David Bell, Neil Gregor, R. C. Richardson, Uwe Schütte and Robert A. Segal...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

April 2, 2015

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor of the University of Reading, is reading Henry Marsh’s Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery (Orion, 2014). “If someone is going to saw your head open, just hope it is the eminent neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, who writes powerfully here of his experiences. Probably insufferable and infuriating to work with, he still comes across as a man of deep insight and great compassion. Indeed, some of the most moving passages in the book are when he comes face to face with his ‘mistakes’. Quite brilliant.”

Book review: Dachau and the SS: A Schooling in Violence, by Christopher Dillion

Neil Gregor, professor of modern European history, University of Southampton, has just read Christopher Dillon’s Dachau and the SS: A Schooling in Violence (Oxford University Press, 2015. “An assiduously researched and intelligently argued book that takes our understanding of the camp personnel to a different level. Even in a crowded field such as this, it genuinely stands out – above all, perhaps, in its account of the dynamics of masculine identity creation and performance in Dachau, opening up new terrain on gender and murder in this context.”

Book review: The Englishness of English Art, by Nikolaus Pevsner

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Nikolaus Pevsner’s The Englishness of English Art (Peregrine, 1956). “This classic study is now inevitably somewhat dated, and some of its quirky judgements appear uncomfortably conspicuous. But the author’s observations on the distinctive features of English architecture as well as art – all the more penetrating, perhaps, coming from a refugee from Nazi Germany – stand out as clearly as ever, as do his secure mastery of detail and his skill in connecting art forms with poetry, philosophy and science.”

Book review: The Calm Ocean, by Gerhard Roth

Uwe Schütte, reader in German, Aston University, is reading Gerhard Roth’s The Calm Ocean (Ariadne, 1993). “Often, literature slows things down to enable a closer look. With an almost painful immediacy, this novel allows readers to experience life in rural Austria in the late 1970s. The stunning beauty and richness of the natural environment provide a backdrop to various violent occurrences, as Roth lays bare fascism’s hidden roots lurking beneath the idyll of country life.”

Book review: The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, by Michael Shermer

Robert A. Segal, sixth century chair in religious studies, University of Aberdeen, is reading Michael Shermer’s The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom (Henry Holt, 2015). “Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine and a firm atheist, argues that science, not religion, has been responsible for what he deems the progressive spread of morality worldwide. By science, he means less scientific discoveries than reasoning and testing. He has disdain for the claim of clerics that secularisation is the cause of moral regress and that terrorists cannot be religious.”

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations