What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 22, 2011

Dimitra Fimi, lecturer in English, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, is reading Arne Zettersten's J.R.R. Tolkien's Double Worlds and Creative Process: Language and Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). "Zettersten, who worked with Tolkien in the 1960s, gives a rare insight into the latter's academic training and personality. He uses the linguistic term 'code-switching' to describe Tolkien's ability to dwell simultaneously in the real world of academia and in his invented cosmos of Middle-earth, talking about both with the same enthusiasm, attention to detail and sense of historicity. Fascinating!"

Ciarán O'Kelly, lecturer in corporate governance at the School of Law, Queen's University Belfast, is reading Paul Johnson's Making the Market: Victorian Origins of Corporate Capitalism (Cambridge University Press, 2010). "This fascinating account of the legislative manufacturing of the UK's corporate economy focuses on factors and events shaping the early Companies Acts and on the roguery, rumour-mongering and regulatory catch-up that marked the early life of the corporate form. Plus ça change."

Roger Brown, co-director of the Centre for Research and Development in Higher Education, Liverpool Hope University, is reading Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner's Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon (Times Books, 2011). "Fascinating stuff, describing the causes of the US sub-prime housing finance crisis that helped trigger the current economic crisis. A key role was played by the ratings agencies that not only failed to alert investors to risks but even frustrated attempts to rein in predatory lending."

Omar Malik, associate Fellow, Nottingham University Business School, and author of The Grown-Ups' Book of Risk, is reading Duncan Watts' Everything Is Obvious Once You Know The Answer: How Common Sense Fails (Atlantic Books, 2011). "The title is dreadful. Worse, it is plain wrong, given the author's confused definitions of common sense. Pity, because the book is very good on the realities of our cognitive processes. Watts is strong on the interpretation of web-based research with its many respondents and draws insightful conclusions. When decision-making is taught at all levels - soon, I hope - this should be a set text."

A.W. Purdue, visiting professor in modern history at Northumbria University, is reading Glyn Prysor's Citizen Sailors: The Royal Navy in the Second World War (Viking, 2011). "The Royal Navy was never, to the extent of the other services, a conscript force, but its rapid wartime expansion created difficulties for a service with strong traditions and a unique way of life. Drawing on a vast range of sources, Prysor describes the stresses on the service and the adaptability and courage of officers and men. A focus on the experiences of individuals is at the expense of the context of these experiences, but this is a valuable and original study of the war at sea."

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