What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

May 12, 2011

Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy, Liverpool Hope University, is reading Raghuram G. Rajan's Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy (Princeton University Press, 2010). "Rajan shows how the current economic crisis is the result of both internal and external economic imbalances. Until these are corrected, there can be no return to the general growth in prosperity that the world was enjoying prior to 2008."

Tim Hall, lecturer in human geography, University of Gloucestershire, is reading David Simon and Edward Burns' The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighbourhood (Canongate, 1997). "Lovers of HBO's brilliant series The Wire may want to turn to its source material, the result of a year spent around Baltimore's inner-city drug corners, to fill the gap in their lives left by the series' end in 2008 - although they may find this book disappointing. While many incidents and characters from the series can be seen in embryonic form here, the writing lacks the vividness that characterised The Wire's scripts."

Susan Hogan, professor of cultural studies, University of Derby, is reading Kat Banyard's The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today (Faber and Faber, 2010). "Banyard's aim is to persuade the reader that feminism, as a campaign for social justice, is relevant and important. She convinces through a mixture of case-study material from interviews, and a reiteration of a wide range of scholarly and journalistic work on inequality. Passionate, polemical, racy prose and a global perspective make the book useful as introductory reading to debates on gender inequality."

Matthew Partridge, who recently obtained his doctorate in economic history at the London School of Economics, is reading Rodric Braithwaite's Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89 (Profile Books, 2011). "Most books on the Soviet army in Afghanistan focus on military tactics; I was interested to see how Braithwaite, a former ambassador to the Soviet Union and later Russia, would tackle the subject. He should be commended for providing substantial detail about army life in the Afghan theatre without neglecting the broader political narrative, but his belief that the Russians intervened out of humanitarian motives, rather than a desire to expand Soviet control, leads him into an uncritical acceptance of the Red Army's actions."

Ulrike Zitzlsperger is senior lecturer in German, University of Exeter. She is reading Barry Miles' London Calling: A Countercultural History of London since 1945 (Atlantic Books, 2010). "This is a volume rich in information, anecdotes and insights into the post-Second World War avant-gardes. Their inspirational and at times self-destructive force contributed to London's unique reputation as a creative metropolis. Like any good study in counter- and subcultures, it is equally illuminating in terms of the cultural establishment and the impact of market forces."

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