What are you reading? – 8 October 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

October 8, 2015
Books open on table

Sir David Bell, vice-chancellor, University of Reading, is reading Robert Putnam’s Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 2015). “Putnam describes the widening gap that has opened up between different sections of American society. A changing economy and weakening ‘concentric circles of influence’, including families, schools and communities, has reduced social mobility for the poor. In parallel, college-educated families are cementing their success. Deploying a combination of personal stories and hard data, Putnam presents a compelling argument with no easy answers.”


Ivor Gaber, professor of journalism, University of Sussex, is reading Philip Ziegler’s Edward Heath: The Authorised Biography (HarperCollins, 2011). “An authorised biography this may be, but that doesn’t mean that the author is afraid to express his own views about the subject and his contemporaries. Ziegler clearly finds Heath a difficult man to like, but equally a man with many qualities to admire. His verdict is difficult to quarrel with – although his very negative view of Harold Wilson, Heath’s predecessor and successor as prime minister, is perhaps less justified.”


Stephen Halliday, senior member, Pembroke College, Cambridge, is reading Robin Gwynn’s The Huguenots in Later Stuart Britain, Volume I (Sussex Academic Press, 2015). “This is the first volume of what will undoubtedly be the definitive account of that dedicated, quarrelsome and intensely patriotic group of refugees from the persecutions of Louis XIV. Chenevix, Dupont, Escoffier…the names roll off the tongue. France’s loss was Britain’s gain. A comprehensive and fascinating account.”


E. Stina Lyon, professor emeritus of educational developments in sociology, London South Bank University, has been reading Antonia Fraser’s My History: A Memoir of Growing Up (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2015) and David Lodge’s Quite a Good Time to Be Born: A Memoir: 1935-1975 (Harvill Secker, 2015). “The critical reception afforded Fraser’s and Lodge’s recent autobiographies was not brilliant, but as I received both as gifts, I thankfully felt obliged to indulge. Despite coming from different ends of the social spectrum, they shared in the levelling effects of war and austerity, humane Catholic family values, public libraries and the liberating impact of university tuition on inquisitive minds. Do I think it matters that more thorough contextual analysis of aristocratic Oxford or suburban south London are absent? No. Well-honed skills of observation and sentence construction provide insightful compensation. Their oh-so-disarmingly English, self-deprecating honesty and wry humour would make Samuel Pepys chuckle in recognition as he travelled up and down the Thames in search of daily bread and the meaning of life.”

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest