What are you reading?

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

January 31, 2013

Roger Brown is professor of higher education policy, Liverpool Hope University. “My Christmas reading included Michael Dobbs’ Six Months in 1945: From World War to Cold War (Hutchinson, 2012). He describes how Anglo-American and Soviet positions diverged and hardened to the point where relations between them were almost as bad as with the Nazis. Dobbs also shows how Roosevelt, and to a lesser extent Truman, lost ground by ignoring the advice of experts on the ground, W. Averell Harriman and George Kennan, in handling the Russians. Gripping stuff.”

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, is reading Peter Varey’s Life on the Edge (PFV, 2012), a biography of wartime hero and chemical engineer Peter Danckwerts. “Cambridge has ever been full of strong characters, but even so, Danckwerts’ life was lived on an epic scale. His academic distinctions - FRS, FEng, FIChemE, AAAS - are complemented by the George Cross, won for defusing bombs as a young naval officer. Varey, as both a writer and a chemist, does justice to Danckwerts’ technical brilliance, to his academic leadership as Shell professor and head of the young department of chemical engineering at Cambridge, and to his courtship of the glamorous woman who became his wife.”

Matthew Feldman, reader in history at Teesside University, is reading Christopher Duggan’s Fascist Voices: An Intimate History of Mussolini’s Italy (Bodley Head, 2012). “An unorthodox, colourful survey of Mussolini’s regime through archival recourse to diaries by Fascists of all stripes. Emphasised throughout is Italian deification of the Duce, that linchpin of the ideology, liturgy and apologetics for Fascism’s ever-increasing fallibility. The power of ‘political faith’ investigated here is darkly fascinating, with chapters on faith and intimacy worth the money alone.”

Sara Read, part-time lecturer in the department of English and drama at Loughborough University, is reading Katherine Fry and Rowena Kirton’s Grammar for Grown-ups: A Straightforward Guide to Good English (Square Peg, 2012). “This enjoyable, accessible manual has the bonus of chapters on US and other Englishes and on literary terminology. It isn’t definitive - the authors follow the increasingly common practice of using the verb ‘quote’ in place of the noun ‘quotation’ - but it’s a valuable reference. Section tests make it useful as a teaching aid, too.”

R.C. Richardson, emeritus professor of history, University of Winchester, has been reading Andrew Hopper’s Turncoats and Renegadoes: Changing Sides during the English Civil Wars (Oxford University Press, 2012). “A painstaking exploration of social, cultural, political, chronological and regional patterns and attitudes in and to a phenomenon conditioned by the changing tides of war, opportunism and the pressing weight of external pressures. Far more common than has often been assumed, Civil War side- changing formed a prelude to the larger-scale adjustments dictated by the Restoration of 1660.”

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy