This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else

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Read 28/04/2019-03/04/2019

Rating 5 stars

This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else is a history of the Manchester band Joy Division, drawn from oral history interviews compiled by Jon Savage and from music press reviews and interviews, and fanzines. It made me nostalgic for a moment in my childhood where I could only ever have been an observer. Continue reading

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Black Tudors: The untold story

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Read 25/01/2019-03/02/2019

Rating 3 stars

Miranda Kaufmann’s re-examination of Tudor society in relation to the place black people occupied in it is described on the cover, in a quote from David Olusoga, as cutting edge as well as accessible and human.

I didn’t get off to a great start with it. It certainly had an edge to it that threatened to cut my willingness to engage with it, as well as an aspect of accessibility that grated. I considered abandoning it after the first chapter and again 60 pages from the end, when it sent me to sleep three times in as many paragraphs. I did finish it, but not soon enough. Continue reading

BRIT(ish)

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Read 17/01/2019-26/01/2019

Rating 4 stars

In BRIT(ish), Afua Hirsch has written a sort of memoir, sort of political appraisal, sort of social history of race and racism in the UK. There’s a bit of travelog in there as well. I struggled to get to grips with it at first, finding it a little piecemeal in its approach, jumping from personal experience peppered with historical context to historiography peppered with personal experience to journalistic investigation of specific aspects of racism in Britain. Each piece had its merits, but for me they didn’t always hang together as a whole. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. It’s articulate, it draws out different strands of the issue, there were lots of things that I learnt from reading it. Hirsch clearly has something she wants to say, and has struggled to understand her own existence, and there is value in what she extracts and shares from that personal struggle. Continue reading

The Secret Life of Cows

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Read 09/01/2019-12/01/2019

Rating 5 stars

Oh, my heart! Rosamund Young expresses everything that I have ever thought about the intensive farming practice in the UK. She has more knowledge than I possess, because Rosamund is a farmer and has chosen a very particular way of raising livestock. The Secret Life of Cows is a chronicle of the adventures of her bovine livestock and their interactions with the other animals who live on the farm, including the humans. Continue reading

White Houses

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Read 24/07/2018-29/07/2018

Rating: 5 stars

I don’t recall who brought Amy Bloom’s White Houses to my attention, but I’m grateful. Since my first degree I have had a history crush on FDR. It was later that I developed a separate history crush on Eleanor.

Bloom’s book is an imagining of Lorena Hickok’s relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. The prologue got me thinking about being in thrall to love. Or maybe the feeling of falling in love. Continue reading