The week in books

July 24, 2008

Txtng: The Gr8 Db8 by David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics, Bangor University. Oxford University Press, £9.99, ISBN 9780199544905

"If you've been waiting for someone to give a good kick to text messaging for desecrating the English language, a white-bearded linguistics professor might seem just the pedant for the task. In that case, David Crystal's latest book will disappoint. 'Texting is one of the most innovative linguistic phenomena of modern times,' is his conclusion. 'I am fascinated by it.'"

Jonathan Sale, Financial Times

A Daughter's Love: Thomas and Margaret More by John Guy, fellow in history, Clare College, University of Cambridge. Fourth Estate, £25.00, ISBN 9780007192311

"Guy's sympathy for More is in some ways surprising. His earlier work shared the lack of enthusiasm for More's religious views which was one of the hallmarks of Guy's great teacher, Sir Geoffrey Elton. Here, however, Guy writes about More with warmth and admiration, and seems willing to entertain the notion that he was certainly a hero, perhaps even a saint."

Eamon Duffy, The Independent

Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam by Mark LeVine, professor of history, University of California, Irvine. Three Rivers Press, £7.10, ISBN 9780307353399 "Even though these antisocial bands want no part of hard-liners like the spooky Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, LeVine thinks if they could put aside their petty differences, they could start a domino effect in the Middle East like the one that toppled the Eastern bloc. (He's like the straight arrow in comic books who'd look around at Armageddon and sigh, 'If only we could have harnessed their mutant energy for goodness.') ... his program is undoubtedly the first to enlist death metal as the spearhead of a new Peace Corps(e)."

Howard Hampton, The New York Times

Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life by Carl Zimmer, fellow, Morse College, Yale University. William Heinemann, £20.00, ISBN 9780434016242

"Zimmer uses E. coli to look at genetics and evolution ... at the relationships between predators and prey, and at the clear evidence against religious explanations of creation. He demonstrates not just a deep knowledge of research on E. coli ... but also of a broad range of contemporary biology ... He knows his elephants as well as he understands the inside of a Petri dish."

Oliver Morton, The Sunday Times

The Invention of Suspicion: Law and Mimesis in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama by Lorna Hutson, Berry professor of English literature, University of St Andrews. Oxford University Press, £50.00, ISBN 9780199212439

"Although Hutson's argument is convincing on its own terms, the attempt to explain a newly powerful mimesis by an appeal to developments in legal practice might look odd if applied to, say, genre painting on the Continent. Yet the very singularity of the causal thesis offered in this book is part of its interest. Who would have thought that lawyers might have helped realise the imaginative enchantment of Renaissance drama?"

Peter Holbrook, The Times Literary Supplement.

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