What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

June 14, 2012

Helen Foster, head of partnership development in the International Office, University of Nottingham, is reading Barbara Demick's Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (Spiegel & Grau, 2009). "This book covers the real lives of six North Korean defectors over a 15-year period. It's an incredible read; a hugely accessible insight into North Korea. The harrowing descriptions of starvation are very moving and the mixture of historical information and real-life experiences makes this book as good as narrative journalism gets."

David Gadd, professor of criminology in the School of Law, University of Manchester, is reading Flesh and Money: Trafficking in Human Beings (Wolf Legal, 2011), edited by Petrus van Duyne and Jon Spencer. "This brilliant collection of essays reveals the intricate ways in which migration, people trafficking and the trade in sex are connected, dispelling many of the myths that inform a vast international venture in crime control. The discovery that this trade is less the product of organised crime and more the consequence of the unravelling of global inequalities of power, wealth and security is the book's disturbing truth. Challenging, revelatory and agenda-setting."

Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, is reading Mark Henderson's The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters (Bantam, 2012). "At The Times, Henderson reported first-hand on virtually every clash between science and politics you can think of - funding cuts, MMR, BSE, hybrid embryos, David Nutt and much else. In The Geek Manifesto, he dissects these crises and draws a conclusion - they show that academics and researchers should stop living on the margins of public life and force MPs to engage with 'geek politics'."

Willy Maley, professor of Renaissance studies, University of Glasgow, is reading The English Levellers (Cambridge University Press, 1998), edited by Andrew Sharp. "The names of John Lilburne, Richard Overton and William Walwyn are part of a radical history that appears pressingly relevant in these days of austerity for some and bonuses for others. Their writings are accessible, enlightening, fortifying and impactful. In our universities in particular, a strong dose of levelling discourse against the absolutism, privatising propensities (aka 'restructuring') and de facto tyranny of the new managerialism is urgently called for."

Christopher Phelps, senior lecturer in American studies, University of Nottingham, is reading Carl Oglesby's Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Antiwar Movement (Scribner, 2008). "Overnight, Oglesby went from being a security-cleared defence industry writer to serving as president of the Students for a Democratic Society, the leading New Left organisation. This quirky memoir by a man who insists he was always a 'centrist' shows how deep and broad the Sixties radicalisation was in the US, upending conventional careers and lives."

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