A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers
Claire Chambers is senior lecturer in postcolonial literature, Leeds Metropolitan University. She is reading Ghada Karmi's In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story (Verso, 2009). "Appalled by the recent attacks on the Gaza aid flotilla, I've been rereading Karmi's memoir about her family's forcible exodus as a consequence of the Nakba, Palestine's occupation in 1948. She powerfully documents her alienation as an Arab girl growing up in 1950s pro-Israeli Britain; her founding of Palestine Action in the 1970s; and, later, her poignant journey to Jerusalem to find her family home."
Jon Nixon, honorary professor in the School of Education, University of Sheffield, is reading Martha C. Nussbaum's Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (Princeton University Press, 2010). "Nussbaum writes from within the tradition of John Dewey, Rabindranath Tagore and Bertrand Russell: hugely influential philosophers who also impact as public educators on how we understand the ends and purposes of education. Against the commercialisation of the academy, she poses a sentient, Socratic and cosmopolitan vision of higher education."
Alec Ryrie is professor of the history of Christianity, Durham University. He is greatly enjoying reading Andrew Pettegree's The Book in the Renaissance (Yale University Press, 2010). "It is more fun than a book on bibliography has any right to be: as well as emphasising what a cut-throat, pragmatic and disreputable business the early modern book trade was, it's a salient reminder of how little we really know about the subject."
Charles Townshend is professor of international history, Keele University. He is reading John Townsend's Proconsul to the Middle East: Sir Percy Cox and the End of Empire (I.B. Tauris, 2010). "Sir Percy deserves to be better known. He was a priceless imperial fixer in a region where British power dramatically increased during the First World War, but where Britain failed to come up with a coherent policy. The book is plain fare and struggles to bring Cox to life. Assisted by Gertrude Bell, he effectively created modern Iraq, yet he comes across as anything but a man of vision."
Allan M. Winkler, distinguished professor of history, Miami University, Ohio, is reading David King Dunaway and Molly Beer's Singing Out: An Oral History of America's Folk Music Revivals (Oxford University Press, 2010). "As a long-time fan of folk music, I've thoroughly enjoyed this book. Made up almost entirely of interviews with the major figures of the past 50 years, interspersed with reflective chapter introductions, it captures vividly the spirit of the musical movement that became so powerful in the 1960s."