What are you reading? - 25 June 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

June 25, 2015
Books on bookshelf

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor, University of Reading, is reading Ruth Winstone’s Events, Dear Boy, Events: A Political Diary of Britain from Woolf to Campbell (Profile, 2012). “In a simple but very clever idea, Winstone tells the story of the past nine decades through diary entries. The most famous diarists are there, including Vera Brittain, ‘Chips’ Channon and Alastair Campbell. But there are also insightful pieces from people as diverse as a Yorkshire miner and a Wren stationed in Plymouth in the Second World War. With so much material available, she has done a remarkable job.”

Vicky Duckworth, senior lecturer in educational research, Edge Hill University, is reading Danny Dorling’s Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists (Policy Press, 2015). “Intelligent and astute, this well-woven book – reissued this year in a fully revised edition – offers a powerful critique of the ideologies of greed that stitch up society. Without a hint of surrender to the status quo, Dorling radiates humanity, passion and concern across every page. His words are weapons, inspiring me to take action and reminding us of the power of the collective to defeat inequality and exploitation.”

Martin Paul Eve, senior lecturer in literature, technology and publishing, Birkbeck, University of London, is reading Open Education: A Study in Disruption (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014), by Pauline van Mourik Broekman et al. “Many readers will doubtless be deterred by this volume’s ominous subtitle. This is a shame, as this thoughtful, collaboratively authored book pushes beyond a rhetorical ‘what is to be done?’ to more fully consider the future paths for higher education. Certainly contentious, this volume is never naive even in its most radical moments.”

R. C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading Simon Winchester’s The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words (Viking, 1998). “Always to be relied on for a good subject and lucid exposition, Winchester here documents the curiously intersecting lives of Sir James Murray, renowned editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and William C. Minor, the ex-US Army surgeon and self-confessed murderer who was incarcerated for decades in Broadmoor Asylum as an incurable madman, and who became one of the Dictionary’s most valuable contributors.”

Paul Greatrix, registrar, University of Nottingham, is reading Michael Nath’s British Story: A Romance (Route, 2014). “This frequently surreal tale follows an academic’s entanglement with an oddball group, led by the Falstaffian Arthur Mountain, who share a strange extended tale stretching back to wartime Swansea via Doncaster and Edinburgh. Reminiscent of the work of Kurt Vonnegut, this is a really engaging and entertaining yarn with plenty of knowing literary allusions.”

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