Linda Asquith, Daniel Binney, Stephen Halliday, Seán Hand and A.W. Purdue...

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

September 19, 2013

Linda Asquith, lecturer in criminology, Nottingham Trent University, is reading Amber Marks’ Headspace: Sniffer Dogs, Spy Bees and One Woman’s Adventures in the Surveillance Society (Virgin Books, 2009). “A fascinating book that explores the increasing use of smell in surveillance, from sniffer bees to genetically modified dogs. In addition to the random interesting facts about police surveillance the book is stuffed with, the author also raises the question of privacy and state surveillance and whether the state’s interest in surveillance is wholly benevolent.”

Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ, by Friedrich Nietzsche

Daniel Binney, postgraduate administrator, department of history, Classics and archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London, is reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ (Penguin Classics, 1990). “Few people or institutions are so privileged as to be on the receiving end of a polemic as Christianity is here. If nothing else of worth came from it in 2,000 years it resulted in this blistering, insightful, sustained, witty, incendiary and beautiful critique unrivalled in contemporary, or any relevant, times.”

The Great Escaper, by Simon Pearson

Stephen Halliday, panel tutor in history, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, is reading Simon Pearson’s The Great Escaper: The Life and Death of Roger Bushell (Hodder, 2013). “The heroic story of the squadron leader who inspired one of the war’s most extraordinary episodes and the film based on it. Bushell – like his film counterpart, played by Richard Attenborough – was shot on Hitler’s orders but his previous exploits, before he reached Stalag Luft III, are here revealed for the first time.”

Drancy La Muette, by Claire Angelini and Yannick Haenel

Seán Hand, professor of French studies, University of Warwick, is reading Claire Angelini’s and Yannick Haenel’s Drancy la muette (Éditions Photosynthèses, 2013). “Undeterred by Claude Lanzmann’s denunciation of his psychological retelling of Jan Karski’s story, Haenel produces another idiosyncratic form of Holocaust remembrance, this time prefacing Angelini’s collages of past and present images of Drancy (the suburban Paris site of a French-run internment and deportation camp) with a terse account of visiting the site that is darkly personal and theoretically forceful.”

The Great War, by Mark Holborn

A.W. Purdue, visiting professor of history, University of Northumbria, is regarding, rather than reading, The Great War: A Photographic Narrative (Jonathan Cape, 2013), edited by Mark Holborn. “This fine book draws on the extensive photographic archive of the Imperial War Museum, including images taken by photographers of all the combatant nations. The extra-large pages take us through the campaigns of the war: the familiar trenches and mud of the Western Front, the more open warfare in the vast spaces of Eastern Europe, and the deserts of the Middle East, while war in the air and at sea are not neglected. Many of the photographs make for rather grim viewing, but the overwhelming impression is of the human capacity for resilience and endurance.”

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