Sir David Bell, Peter Catterall, R. C. Richardson, Bruce Scharlau and Sharon Wheeler...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 14, 2014

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor, University of Reading, is reading Matthew D. Tribbe’s No Requiem for the Space Age: The Apollo Moon Landings in American Culture (Oxford University Press, 2014). “Why did the Apollo moon landings fall out of favour so quickly? Matthew Tribbe provides an interesting explanation. He suggests that a mood shift from ‘technocratic rationalism’ to the mystical counter-cultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s was as important in ending the programme as the enormous cost. That and Nasa’s failure to cultivate the public imagination, despite the magnitude of its achievements.”

Book review: Grayson Perry: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, by Wendy Jones

Peter Catterall, reader in history, University of Westminster, is reading Wendy Jones’ Grayson Perry: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl (Chatto & Windus, 2006). “If the purest form of art expresses the inner person, then the art of Grayson Perry is expressed as much through his alter ego Claire as through his pottery. Cross-dressing became a means of coping with and transcending an oppressive home environment. It just shows how liberating and empowering it can be to express yourself by being someone else.”

Book review: The Man who Loved China, by Simon Winchester

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Simon Winchester’s The Man who Loved China (Harper, 2008). “Written with characteristic panache, this well-researched study explores the lifelong fascination of the colourful Cambridge polymath Joseph Needham (1900-95) with China’s centuries-long record as the home of invention. First visiting the war-torn country in 1942, the socialist Needham became a convinced optimist about its future as well as a celebrant of its past. His epic 24-book series, Science and Civilisation in China, is his lasting monument.”

Book review: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Bruce Scharlau, senior teaching fellow in computing science, University of Aberdeen, is reading Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk (Piccadilly Press, 2013). “This parenting book is applicable to education and teaching, too. This is a coaching and communication book for everyone. Its stories, examples and illustrations will encourage descriptive communication and problem-solving skills, which will improve learning and behaviour in homes and classrooms. Read, enjoy and apply its ideas generously.”

Book review: High Desert, by Katherine V. Forrest

Sharon Wheeler, senior lecturer in journalism, University of Portsmouth, is reading Katherine V. Forrest’s High Desert (Spinsters Ink, 2013). “Forrest’s crisp, dispassionate series set the gold standard for lesbian crime fiction. High Desert takes place 23 years after Murder at the Nightwood Bar. Kate Delafield’s been retired for five months from the LAPD. She’s drinking heavily, living apart from partner Aimee, and her pal Maggie is dying. The plot is slight, but the poignant tale shows how lives move on and change.”

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