Stefan Baral, Sir David Bell, Kathryn Ecclestone, Roger Morgan and Uwe Schütte...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

January 8, 2015

Stefan Baral, director, Key Populations Program, Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins University, is reading Male Sex Work and Society (Harrington Park, 2014), edited by Victor Minichiello and John Scott. “There are elements of our societies that most cannot comprehend, never mind celebrate. The industry of male sex work and men who work within it exemplify this dynamic. Minichiello and Scott have assembled the definitive reference on male sex work, characterising the complexity of this industry, from individual vulnerabilities to punitive legal frameworks and community-led responses.”

Book review: The Collapse, by Mary Elise Sarotte

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor, University of Reading, is reading Mary Elise Sarotte’s The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall (Basic Books, 2014). “Focusing on the events of 9 and 10 November 1989, this is less grand sweep of history and more comedy of miscommunication among mid-level bureaucrats and the sclerotic impotence of the East German regime. Against that backdrop, the movement of millions of ordinary citizens became irresistible, with statesmen on both sides of the border largely bystanders and powerless to intervene.”

Book review: The Semiotics of Happiness, by Ashley Frawley

Kathryn Ecclestone, professor of education, University of Sheffield, is reading Ashley Frawley’s Semiotics of Happiness: Rhetorical Beginnings of a Public Problem (Bloomsbury, 2015). “Frawley charts how concern about the supposedly dire state of our happiness has come to dominate politics, the media, research, everyday popular and professional discourse. Far from being a ‘grass-roots’ movement, the liberal-Left’s abandonment of material aspirations and Conservative retrenchment to work-life balance allows the unchallenged idea that we are too vulnerable to know how to be happier, to fuel an influential well-being industry. Brilliantly worrying.”

Book review: Winston Churchill: Der Späte Held, by Thomas Kielinger

Roger Morgan, formerly professor of political science, European University Institute, Florence, is reading Thomas Kielinger’s Winston Churchill: Der Späte Held (C. H. Beck, 2014). “Die Welt’s erudite London correspondent has an encyclopedic knowledge of British history and politics (he formerly taught at Cardiff University). Here he penetratingly explores the multiple lives – cavalryman, journalist, historian, artist – of the remarkable politician who unexpectedly became Britain’s saviour in the 1940s. An English translation of this subtle interpretation would be well worth considering.”

Book review: Part of the Solution, by Ulrich Peltzer

Uwe Schütte, reader in German, Aston University, is reading Ulrich Peltzer’s Part of the Solution (Seagull, 2011). “Berlin may be at the heart of Germany’s literary life; sadly, however, great novels about the capital have been few and far between over the past few decades. This novel is a notable exception, as Peltzer interweaves an East-West romance with a thriller on anarchists gone underground. Superbly translated by the late Martin Chalmers, it offers a shrewd portrait of the city today.”

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