What are you reading? – 20 August 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 20, 2015
Books on bookshelf

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor, University of Reading, is reading Saul David’s Operation Thunderbolt: Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015). “In the annals of counter-terrorism, the 1976 raid on Entebbe airport is still seen as one of the most daring. Israeli commandos flew more than 2,000 miles to rescue hostages from the clutches of their Palestinian captors and Ugandan ‘hosts’. Saul David draws evidence from a rich variety of sources, including some inside the Israeli cabinet. He demonstrates vividly how close the operation came to disaster.”

Carina Buckley, learning skills tutor, Southampton Solent University, is reading Brian Lamont’s Norfolk Broadsides (Penbury Press/Kindle, 2012). “With humour and an obvious love of language, Lamont deftly handles the challenges of the Norfolk dialect to illuminate local customs and characters, both past and present, to give a unique insider’s view of Norfolk life and history. Clever in its execution and amusing in its outcome, this collection offers the wry smile of a fascinated observer of life.”

Laurence Coupe, visiting professor of English, Manchester Metropolitan University, is reading Tim Lott’s The Last Summer of the Water Strider (Scribner, 2015). “Set in the early 1970s, the story concerns a 17-year old, significantly called Adam, who is forced to enter the world of experience when he witnesses his mother’s death. He is then sent to stay with his uncle Henry Templeton – a character whom Lott bases on the self-proclaimed ‘spiritual entertainer’ of the hippy era, Alan Watts. Despite being deeply flawed, Henry helps Adam awaken to a new way of seeing the world. An absorbing and atmospheric read.”

Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder professor of geography, University of Oxford, is reading David Madland’s Hollowed Out: Why the Economy Doesn’t Work Without a Middle Class (University of California Press, 2015). “Madland doesn’t pull his punches: ‘Most economists got it so wrong because they were trained to think of individuals as untouched by instructional or social influences.’ This is perfect late-summer reading – if you’ve spent the summer somewhere where there’s still a functioning middle class. Come back to the UK, or the more inequitable of US states, and you can read about how it could be summertime all the time. If only we stopped hollowing out.”

Catherine Goetze, senior lecturer in international relations, University of Sussex, is reading Lisa Smirl’s Spaces of Aid: How Cars, Compounds and Hotels Shape Humanitarianism (Zed Books, 2015). “This gem of critical scholarship demonstrates how power relations in humanitarianism play out through spatial and material configurations. The humanitarians’ SUVs, guarded compounds and international hotels are essential parts of the processes by which people struck by disaster are turned into charitable victims without agency. Judiciously interweaving social theory with deep empirical research, Smirl dissects how humanitarianism is undermining itself.”

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