What are you reading? – 10 September 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 10, 2015
Books on bookshelf

Alison Assiter, professor of feminist theory, University of the West of England, is reading Fiona Ellis’ God, Value, and Nature (Oxford University Press, 2014). “Would you believe that it is possible, using a carefully constructed series of steps that build on one another, to derive a form of theism from scientific naturalism, but without really moving beyond the ambit of the latter? This is exactly what Ellis sets out to do, using careful arguments, in this wonderful book.”

Sir David Eastwood, vice-chancellor, University of Birmingham, is reading Memory Hold-the-door: The Autobiography of John Buchan (Hodder & Stoughton, 1940). “Fine men are too often forgotten, or remembered for too little. Buchan’s autobiography reminds us of a man of vast sympathies, rich talents and a life that married public and inner lives with a rare depth of sympathy. Read this, luxuriate and then perhaps lament the more impoverished public life of the present age.”

George McKay, professor of media studies, University of East Anglia, is reading J. P. Bean’s Singing From the Floor: A History of British Folk Clubs (Faber & Faber, 2014). “Vibrant oral history drawing on more than 100 interviews with musicians, organisers, fans, floor-singers, comedians and communists who made something new out of something old, usually in the back room of a pub. A glimpse into a boisterous democratic music and cultural space, that was, for a time in the 1960s and 1970s, wildly popular: 400 clubs in London alone, and more than 70 on Merseyside.”

Giulia Miller, affiliated lecturer in modern Hebrew, University of Cambridge, is reading Arissa H. Oh’s To Save the Children of Korea: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption (Stanford University Press, 2015). “An absolutely fascinating study of South Korea’s role in the history of international adoption. After the 1950-53 Korean War, thousands of mixed-race ‘GI babies’ were shipped over to the US. Rejected by their native country for being ‘racially impure’, they were welcomed by American families looking to adopt, and by a US government that sought to reinforce its liberal status in the new Cold War environment.”

Nigel Rodenhurst, part-time lecturer in English, Aberystwyth University, is reading Adam Thorpe’s The Rules of Perspective (Vintage, 2015). “Thorpe departs from his usual shtick of exploring ‘Englishness’ across generations to present an American protagonist. I would concur with the negative critical responses to this book; the dialogue of the American GI, Parry, is excruciatingly hackneyed and flat. Add to this a ‘side narrative’ that does not serve any obvious purpose and the result is a rare failure on Thorpe’s part.”

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