What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

August 27, 2009

John Gilbey lectures in IT service management at Aberystwyth University. "My bedtime book of choice at the moment is Theodore Gray's Mad Science: Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't (Black Dog & Leventhal, 2009). Based on his column in Popular Science, this is an awesomely enjoyable romp through some of the weirder parts of the scientific landscape. Topics include building your own cloud chamber, the home manufacture of silver bullets, and a genuine hillbilly hot tub, powered by quicklime ... Intensely practical, great fun and highly recommended - just don't skip over the safety tips!"

Stephen Halliday, lecturer at the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, is reading Andrew Roberts' Masters and Commanders: How Roosevelt, Churchill, Marshall and Alanbrooke Won the War in the West (Penguin, 2009) - "an account of battles in the conference rooms where Churchill, Roosevelt and their military commanders Alan Brooke and George C. Marshall fought over priorities and resources. Tempers were lost, fisticuffs narrowly avoided, but agreement was always reached in the end. One depressing theme is the extent to which Roosevelt was taken in by Stalin. A splendid read with genuinely original insights."

Wendy Johnson is a Research Council UK fellow in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh. "As part of understanding the culture of my newly adopted country, I'm reading How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything In It by Arthur Herman (Three Rivers Press, 2001). No false modesty there, as Herman appears to be an American. I have been impressed with Scotland's intellectual energy and its history of poverty, and this book helps me understand their coexistence."

Paul A. Taylor is senior lecturer in communications theory, University of Leeds. He is reading The Parallax View (MIT Press, 2006) by Slavoj Zizek. "A remarkable demonstration of continental philosophical and psychoanalytical pyrotechnics. More provocative ideas per page than normally found in whole books by the dull anglophone empiricists who find him so threatening."

Chris Terry has lectured at universities in Canada and Germany and is visiting senior lecturer at the projected Nehemia University, Albania. He is reading Richard Storer's F. R. Leavis (Routledge, 2009) and finds it "informative, succinct, circumspect; an exacting introduction to Leavis as an incisive master critic. Ideal for today's students and general readers."

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