What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

November 12, 2009

Ivor Gaber is research professor in media and politics, University of Bedfordshire, and professor of political campaigning, City University London. "I have just finished reading The Comforts of Madness by Paul Sayer (Constable, 1988). It was the Whitbread Book of the Year 21 years ago but, hey, I'm a slow reader. I picked it up second-hand because I needed a thin book to read on the Underground; it turned out to be a riveting, frightening but ultimately uplifting book about the triumph of the human spirit, trapped inside a useless body. Recommended."

Sarah Ison, assistant information adviser, University of Brighton, is reading Practical Pedagogy for Library Instructors: 17 Innovative Strategies to Improve Student Learning (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2008), edited by Douglas Cook and Ryan L. Sittler. "The book suggests techniques for teaching library skills in a way that should improve learning by being innovative, fun, interesting and hands-on. When I finish I should have more ideas to help me plan great library inductions for students."

Susanne Karstedt is professor of criminology, Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds. "I am reading Kesselring's Last Battle: War Crimes Trials and Cold War Politics 1945-1960 by Kerstin von Lingen (University Press of Kansas, 2009). It is a gripping tale of outrage at war crimes confronted with realpolitik; of moral values and vested interests. It is also a tale of individual and collective denial, of unacknowledged guilt and absence of shame. Von Lingen's study shows that we could and should learn from the past; an excellent English translation of cumbersome academic writing has made this hidden history a better read."

Giulia Miller, associate lecturer in the faculty of media, arts and society, Southampton Solent University, is reading Iris Parush's Reading Jewish Women: Marginality and Modernization in Nineteenth-Century Eastern European Jewish Society (Brandeis University Press, 2004). "A much-needed exploration of Jewish female literacy during the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment). Most Jewish women were not permitted to study Hebrew, but paradoxically were encouraged to learn Yiddish and other European languages because they were deemed harmless."

Hester Vaizey, postdoctoral research fellow, Max Planck Centre for the History of Emotions, Berlin, is reading Katrin Himmler's The Himmler Brothers: A German Family History (Macmillan UK, 2007). "In an unflinching assessment of her own family history, Heinrich Himmler's great-niece sets out on a quest for truth, probing established family narratives that while Heinrich was a committed Nazi, his brothers had little connection to the party. It offers insights into how Germany continues to come to terms with its Nazi past."

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