A weekly look over the shoul­ders of our scholar-re­view­ers

THE (Times Higher Education) - - BOOK OF THE WEEK -

Richard Joyner, emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor of chem­istry, Not­ting­ham Trent Uni­ver­sity, is read­ing Sean Spicer’s The Brief­ing: Pol­i­tics, the Press and the Pres­i­dent (Bite­back Pub­lish­ing, 2018). “Spicer was one of a few Repub­li­can Party pro­fes­sion­als hired to help Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency get off the ground. He was ap­pointed press sec­re­tary, be­com­ing fa­mous on day one when he had to de­fend to the world’s press Trump’s claim that a record num­ber of peo­ple had at­tended his in­au­gu­ra­tion. Spicer lasted six months. I had not ex­pected to like him. Yet I found some­one com­mit­ted to the ideal of pub­lic ser­vice and with a co­her­ent set of po­lit­i­cal be­liefs, who seems thought­ful, hon­est and self-dep­re­cat­ing. From him I also learned, with many ex­am­ples, some­thing of why the Amer­i­can right feel they are ha­bit­u­ally treated un­fairly by ‘lib­eral’ East Coast me­dia such as CNN and The New York Times. Think ‘Re­moan­ers’ and the Daily Mail in a po­lit­i­cal mir­ror im­age.”

Kal­want Bhopal, pro­fes­so­rial re­search fel­low and pro­fes­sor of ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial jus­tice, Uni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham, is read­ing Ran­dall Kennedy’s The Per­sis­tence of the Color Line: Racial Pol­i­tics and the Obama Pres­i­dency (Vin­tage, 2012). “‘The terms un­der which Barack Obama won the pres­i­dency, the con­di­tions un­der which he gov­erns, and the cir­cum­stances un­der which he seeks re-elec­tion all dis­play the haunt­ing per­sis­tence of the color line.’ Kennedy’s open­ing lines demon­strate the pow­er­ful ar­gu­ment of his book, which ex­plores how dis­cus­sion of race in the US has fo­cused on the elec­tion and pres­i­dency of Obama. In ex­am­in­ing the com­plex­ity of his sym­bol­ism as a black pres­i­dent and the chal­lenges this poses for an in­clu­sive so­ci­ety, the book is both provoca­tive and in­for­ma­tive. Kennedy’s in­sight­ful and in­tel­lec­tual anal­y­sis of racial pol­i­tics re­minds us that race re­mains a key fea­ture of Amer­ica’s con­scious­ness – de­spite the elec­tion of a Black pres­i­dent.”

Ge­of­frey Al­der­man, pro­fes­sor of pol­i­tics at the Uni­ver­sity of Buck­ing­ham, is read­ing Mi­grant Bri­tain: His­to­ries and His­to­ri­ogra­phies: Es­says in Hon­our of Colin Holmes (edited by Jen­nifer Craig-Nor­ton, Christhard Hoff­mann and Tony Kush­ner; Rout­ledge, 2018). “Colin Holmes, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the Uni­ver­sity of Sh­effield, is the fore­most au­thor­ity on the his­tory of an­tisemitism in Bri­tain, and – more widely – on the im­pact and im­por­tance of Bri­tain’s im­mi­grant ori­gins and of the im­mi­grants who have made their homes in this coun­try. A founder of the jour­nal Im­mi­grants & Mi­nori­ties, over the past half­cen­tury Holmes re­for­mu­lated the ‘im­mi­grant’ de­bate, and in the process es­tab­lished ‘the Sh­effield school’ of stu­dents whom he taught and of aca­demic col­leagues who were priv­i­leged to work with him. Such schol­ars, in­clud­ing my­self, have now come to­gether to con­tribute to a Festschrift in his hon­our – a fit­ting trib­ute to a great his­to­rian and (as it hap­pens) a timely cel­e­bra­tion of his work.”

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