What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

July 12, 2012

Mary Evans, centennial professor at the Gender Institute, London School of Economics, is reading Claude Lanzmann's The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir (Atlantic, 2012). "Lanzmann's mentor, Jean-Paul Sartre, wrote a memorably short autobiography; Lanzmann says more, but the greater generosity with words is well spent on what is not just about the man but also the 20th century. What emerges is a long and fascinating love letter to the power of literate conversation."

Karen McAulay, music and academic services librarian, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is reading A Rattleskull Genius: the Many Faces of Iolo Morganwg (University of Wales Press, 2005), edited by Geraint H. Jenkins. "Since I've devoted many hours to the study of authenticity and fakery in early 19th-century Scottish songbooks, this collection enables me to make comparisons with a contemporary Welshman. I'm intrigued by this gifted but eccentric bard who single-handedly invented a tradition, even though Daniel Huws found Iolo's Welsh song transcriptions to have been more genuine than much of his output."

R.C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, is reading David Cannadine's History in Our Time (Yale University Press, 1998), "a collection of his lively and usually insightful book reviews. But how utterly wrong he has sometimes been! A 1989 piece on the beleaguered Margaret Thatcher concluded that she was unsinkable. And his radical posturings - mellowed perhaps after his acceptance of a knighthood - about the British monarchy's uncertain post-Diana (Princess of Wales) future now look unconvincing in light of the enthusiastic welcome for the Diamond Jubilee."

Auriol Stevens, former editor of Times Higher Education and a member of its editorial board, is reading Leonore Davidoff's Thicker Than Water: Siblings and their Relations 1780-1920 (Oxford University Press, 2011). "A fascinating study of the networks that large, middle-class, professional families established in the long 19th century. Aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, half and step-siblings provided homes, jobs, freedom and refuge. Operating over long distances through sometimes florid corres-pondence, these extended families enabled imperial adventure, business enterprise and artistic experiment - and often crushed young women's aspirations."

Gordon Thomas, financial support funds officer, University of Nottingham, is reading Ned Boulting's How I Won the Yellow Jumper: Dispatches from the Tour de France (Yellow Jersey, 2011). "It should, of course, be 'the Yellow Jersey'. This book charts Boulting's progress from novice cycling reporter - 'So they have teams in the Tour de France?' - to seasoned veteran and Tour-loving obsessive. Tour history is blended with anecdotes revealing the personalities and quirks of professional cycling, while providing a fascinating insight into media coverage of sport on television."

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