What are you reading? – 29 October 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

October 29, 2015
Book open on table

Charlie Cooper, lecturer in community and youth work studies, University of Hull, is reading Harry Leslie Smith’s Love Among the Ruins: A Memoir of Life and Love in Hamburg, 1945 (Icon, 2015). “Smith is best known for Harry’s Last Stand, a moving and passionate defence of the Keynesian welfare state promised us in 1942. This latest book is a love story set in post-war Hamburg, telling the tale of Harry’s first weeks with his future German wife, Friede, at a time when relations with the ‘enemy’ were censured. It is an equally moving and passionate account.”

Clare Debenham, tutor in the department of politics, University of Manchester, is reading Chris Mullin’s A Very British Coup (Serpent’s Tail, 2010). “Mullin was a Labour member of Parliament for 23 years. It is rare for political fact to follow political fiction, but this 1982 novel is an exception. Against all odds, Harry Perkins, a former steelworker, has led the Labour Party to a resounding victory. His manifesto causes dissent. The end is predictable but the journey fascinating.”

Maria Delgado, professor and director of research, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, is reading Jean Graham-Jones’ Evita, Inevitably. Performing Argentina’s Female Icons Before and After Eva Perón (University of Michigan Press, 2015). “A fascinating treatment of myth-making in modern Argentina, focusing on the iconisation of women who have played a decisive role in the construction of the country’s national imaginary. Eva Perón vies with the country’s patron saint, the Virgin of Luján, and pop performer Gilda with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. A compelling positing of the packaging of Evita within wider discourses of celebrity, stardom and artistic performance.”

Sue Reeves, principal lecturer in nutrition and health, University of Roehampton, is reading Christopher McDougall’s Natural Born Heroes: The Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance (Profile, 2015). “The true story of how a band of maverick Second World War resistance fighters kidnapped a general from Nazi-occupied Crete. Forgotten techniques of strength and endurance including the elastic recoil properties of fascia, the utilisation of fat as a metabolic fuel, natural movement and foraging for food provide evidence in an explanation of how they accomplished their daring plan and evaded capture.”

Nigel Rodenhurst, part-time lecturer in English, Aberystwyth University, is reading Herman Melville’s Redburn (Modern Library Classics, 2002). “Obscured by the shadows cast by Moby-Dick and Bartleby, the Scrivener, Melville’s boyhood adventure story is sometimes categorised with his ‘lesser’ early work. I would support those who dispute this, because in addition to the novel’s obvious historical value, the literary and meta-fictional aspects praised in Melville’s later work are also present. This is much more than a good page-turner.”

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