Books

50 essays by the author on classic texts can be found at:

www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/cat_retrospective_reviews.php

  • The Gun, the Ship and the Pen

    Linda Colley, The Gun, the Ship and the Pen; Warfare, Constitutions and the Making of the Modern World, Profile Books, 2021, pp. 502. Warships that encircle the planet; guns that kill at half a mile or more; written constitutions that allocate your rights and duties: all these are crucial features of modernity and, according to […]
  • Politics and altruism

    Thomas Prosser, What’s In It For Me: Self-Interest and Political Difference, Manchester University Press, 2021, £12-99 paperback. What’s In It For Me? is a survey of contemporary political movements and beliefs. It is very up to date – Covid and Brexit get plenty of mentions – and it’s central question concerns the extent to which […]
  • Sir Stanley Rous

    Alan Tomlinson, Sir Stanley Rous and the Growth of World Football: An Englishman Abroad, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, £64 (hardback). One of the most iconic photographs in the history of English sport is of the queen presenting the Jules Rimet Cup to the England captain Bobby Moore in 1966. From the angle most often shown there […]
  • University Governance

    Michael Shattock and Aniko Horvath, The Governance of British Higher Education; the impact of governmental, financial and market pressures, Bloomsbury, 2020, pp. 198. In 1969 Mike Shattock and I both took up posts at the University of Warwick. He was Academic Registrar and, later, registrar, a role he redefined as managerial and strategic. He steadily […]
  • Julia Boyd, Travellers in the Third Reich

    The Tourist’s Third Reich Julia Boyd, Travellers in the Third Reich, The Rise of Fascism through the Eyes of Everyday People, Elliott and Thompson, 2017, pp. 456. Despite a misleading title and sub-title, Julia Boyd’s book is actually about travellers in Germany in the entire period 1918-45 and is, of course, about the rise of […]
  • Jeffrey Edward Green, The Shadow of Unfairness

    Jeffrey Edward Green, The Shadow of Unfairness: a Plebeian Theory of Liberal Democracy, OUP, 2019 (hardback 2016), pp. xi + 252. As a young adult my principal activities were the learning and teaching of political philosophy. The subject had been prominently declared “dead”, but was able to continue in the forms of biography and autopsy. […]
  • Stathis N. Kalyvas, Modern Greece

    Stathis N. Kalyvas, Modern Greece, What Everyone Needs to Know, OUP, 2015, pp. 242 You can’t really trust an historian who tells you (p.66) that Lloyd George was prime minister of the UK in 1913, but this is not history as such, but an historical essay aimed at understanding Greece’s economic and political traumas in […]
  • Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Vintage Books, 2003, pp. 272. So, at last, on a library exit-grab, I read the book that everybody was reading in 2004. Curious is about an idiot-savant boy living in Swindon. (The author later said that his character, Christopher Boone, could be said to […]
  • Davis Wootton, Power, Pleasure and Profit

    Why Did the Samaritan Cross the Road? David Wootton, Power, Pleasure and Profit: Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018, pp. 386. This is a book on the (very large) subject of “the Enlightenment” and its moral consequences. That it is a traditional scholarly work can be judged […]
  • Frances Welch, Imperial Tea Party

    Frances Welch, Imperial Tea Party, family, politics and betrayal: the ill-fated British and Russian royal alliance, Short Books, 2018, pp. 282. Although rather amateurishly presented in several respects this is a fascinating and well-researched slice of history. It covers the three meetings of the British royal family with their Romanov cousins in the years before […]
  • James Hawes, The Shortest History of Germany

    Lincoln Allison, emeritus reader in politics, University of Warwick, is reading James Hawes’ The Shortest History of Germany (Old Street Publishing, 2017) I was given this book in a pub by a friend who had just finished it: brushing up on German history with a quick summary seemed an excellent idea. Except that it is […]
  • Son of . . .

    Lincoln Allison, essayist and retired academic. I normally have lots of books on the go, but the pick of the current crop is Mick Channon Jnr., How’s Your Dad? Embracing Failure in the Shadow of Success (Racing Post, 2016). Reasons for reading it: “Here, Dad, you’ll like this” plus I once included Mick Channon Snr., […]
  • The Play’s the Thing

    Brenda James and William D. Rubinstein, The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare, Pearson Longman, 2005 (2006 pb), pp. 360. On more than one occasion at a conference I have been buttonholed by someone who has insisted on informing me, with a glint in their eye, that the plays attributed to William Shakespeare were […]
  • The Chairman of Surrey CCC (also Prime Minister)

    John Major, More than a Game: the story of cricket’s early years, Harper, 2007, pp. 433. I overheard a remark on Radio 4 recently to the effect that Wagner was like Marmite and cricket: you either “got it” or you didn’t. The implication for those administering or producing these goods was that they really didn’t […]
  • Risky Shores

    George K. Behlmer, Risky Shores: savagery and colonialism in the Western Pacific, Stanford University Press, 2018, pp. xiv + 338. In the common rooms and waiting rooms of my youth Punch was ubiquitous. One rarely read the articles, but always looked at the cartoons; a distinct genre of these showed missionaries in cooking pots. The […]
  • Game Changer

    Rayvon Fouché, Game Changer: the techno-scientific revolution in sports, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2017, pp. 262 A starting claim of Game Changer is that the impact of technology on sport in the last thirty years is on a different scale from anything previously. A great deal of the book covers the familiar issues of […]
  • Knowing the Score

    David Papineau, Knowing the Score, How Sport teaches us about Philosophy (and Philosophy about Sport), Constable, 2017, pp. 328 The sub-title to David Papineau’s book suggests a pair of objectives. They are, of course, open to interpretation. For example, it is eminently clear that the author is not concerning himself with the question of what […]
  • Mountains of the Mind

    Lincoln Allison, emeritus reader in politics, University of Warwick, is reading Robert Macfarlane’s Mountains of the Mind (Granta, 2003) Mountains were: forbidden and forbidding, an odious nuisance, God-forsaken and ugly, an “other” to be avoided. Mountains are: sublime and beautiful, a challenge and a sustenance for the human spirit, God’s finest creation and an “other” […]
  • Power, Pleasure and Profit

    David Wootton, Power, Pleasure and Profit: Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018, pp. 386. This is a book on the (very large) subject of “the Enlightenment” and its moral consequences. That it is a traditional scholarly work can be judged by the fact that of its 386 […]
  • Imperial Tea Party

    Frances Welch, Imperial Tea Party, family, politics and betrayal: the ill-fated British and Russian royal alliance, Short Books, 2018, pp. 282. Although rather amateurishly presented in several respects this is a fascinating and well-researched slice of history. It covers the three meetings of the British royal family with their Romanov cousins in the years before […]
  • Germany

    Lincoln Allison, emeritus reader in politics, University of Warwick, is reading James Hawes’ The Shortest History of Germany (Old Street Publishing, 2017) I was given this book in a pub by a friend who had just finished it: brushing up on German history with a quick summary seemed an excellent idea. Except that it is […]
  • Japan

    Lincoln Allison, emeritus reader in politics, University of Warwick, is reading Mikiso Hane’s Japan, A Short History (Oneworld, 2017 printing). When in Tokyo . . . I am one of many who must read the history of the country they are in and Hane’s version is the leading contender for Japan. He was a Californian […]