What are you reading? - 11 June 2015

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

June 11, 2015
Books on bookshelf

Dave Anderson, outgoing UCU Scotland president and senior IT system administrator (authentication and authorisation), University of Glasgow, is reading Aki Ollikainen’s White Hunger (Peirene Press, 2015), translated by Emily and Fleur Jeremiah. “Set in Finland in 1867, this novel recounts the plight of Marja and her two children as famine forces them to abandon their farm and walk south through the snow. The desolation, sorrow, fear and hunger of the refugees’ journey are described with a compelling poetry, and timelessly speak of the struggle and determination to survive. A timely and thought-provoking story.”


Thom Brooks, professor of law and government, Durham University, is reading Cass R. Sunstein’s Simpler: The Future of Government (Simon & Schuster, 2013). “As another government takes power aiming to add to the nation’s stockpile of regulations, this follow-up to Nudge shows how to put behavioural economics to good use in making regulations fewer and smarter, using examples from Sunstein’s time in Barack Obama’s administration. Required reading for new MPs.”


Carina Buckley, learning skills tutor, Southampton Solent University, is reading Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Vintage, 2012). “In characteristically poetic prose, Winterson tries to understand both the question posed by her mother that provides this book’s title, and her own answer, as she traces the roots of childhood loss and longing through to her adult self and her salvation through writing. Part memoir, part hymn to the power of language, Winterson’s struggle for love and belonging is honestly, heartbreakingly patched together.”


Robert J. Mayhew, professor of historical geography, University of Bristol, is reading Geoffrey Martin’s American Geography and Geographers: Toward Geographical Science (Oxford University Press, 2015). “This encyclopedic work is the product of a lifetime’s archival research and reflection on the emergence in the US of geography as a modern university discipline. This book takes its place immediately as the most comprehensive analysis of a national tradition of geographical enquiry in the English language and an indispensable work of historical reference.”


A. W. Purdue, visiting professor of history at Northumbria University, is reading Antony Beevor’s Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble (Viking, 2015). “The German army made a last desperate effort before defeat in 1944 in the Ardennes, where it had made its brilliant advance in 1940. This gamble could not have changed the course of the war even if successful, and, as Beevor argues, the losses weakened resistance to the Soviet advance. Yet it was fiercely contested, and Beevor provides an account of combat that replicated the Eastern Front as hundreds of thousands of men fought in freezing conditions. While the atrocities committed by Waffen SS divisions are well known, this study also reveals the killing of German prisoners by Allied troops.”

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