What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

June 7, 2012

Roger Brown, professor of higher education policy at Liverpool Hope University, is reading Lawrence D. Brown and Lawrence R. Jacobs' The Private Abuse of the Public Interest (University of Chicago Press, 2008). "Market interventions in healthcare, education and transportation go through a familiar cycle of dogma, exploitation, and institutional and service breakdown, leading to government intervention - as we have seen with the banks - and this book shows that markets' performance depends on the institutional framework that surrounds and shapes them. In public policy terms, the issue is not one of market or government, but how to strike the best balance between them."

Gary Day, principal lecturer in English, De Montfort University, is reading Paul W. Kahn's Out of Eden: Adam and Eve and the Problem of Evil (Princeton University Press, 2006). "The Fall turns us into finite beings who long for the infinite. Love is one response to this condition; evil is the other. We escape our mortality by making another die in our place. 'Evil is love gone wrong.' A wonderful book that by emphasising the existential dimension of evil rescues it from being simply, in Hannah Arendt's word, 'banal'."

Ivor Gaber, professor of political journalism at City University London and research professor in media and politics at the University of Bedfordshire, is reading Christian Wolmar's Engines of War: How Wars Were Won and Lost on the Railways (Atlantic, 2011). "A fascinating tale about the crucial role that railways have played in modern warfare and how armies could not have become efficient killing machines without the ability the railways gave them to shift vast quantities of men, armaments and supplies. Wolmar shows us how Hitler made a fateful error in paying less attention to the Russian railway timetables than the Red Army."

Emily Sanders, office manager at Jisc Advance, is reading Edward Rutherfurd's New York: The Novel (Random House, 2009). "At first sight, this tome seems overwhelming (much like the city): however, Rutherfurd's prose flows smoothly and with insight into the city's evolution from humble beginnings to financial powerhouse to honeypot and slum. It is at times staccato with irrelevant facts, but it is engaging throughout - and can also be used as an effective draft excluder."

Gordon Thomas, financial support officer, University of Nottingham, is reading Eric Hobsbawm's The Age of Capital: 1848-1875 (Little, Brown, 1988). "This fascinating book surveys a period of great change when nation states and their political classes were being born. The Europe of the mid to late 19th century was very different from that of today: when teachers were sent from Rome to Sicily in an effort to standardise the school curriculum, the country we now call Italy was so regionalised and insular that the Sicilians mistook them for Englishmen."

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