Oxford tutors offer their suggestions for your Christmas book lists
Charles Moore's biography of Margaret Thatcher comes top of the Principal of Somerville's list
Dr Alice Prochaska, Principal, Somerville College
Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher. The Authorized Biography. Volume two: Everything she Wants
This is mandatory reading for the Principal of Thatcher’s college, of course, but it was no chore. I have read it with pleasure and much enlightenment. Moore writes beautifully and treats his subject with sympathy but by no means uncritically. The Iron Lady in her years of triumph emerges believably, and there is a staggering amount of research and historical context to support this narrative. We are left on the verge of Thatcher’s years of hubris, and I await the third and final volume with awe at what is already a great achievement.
Jean Seaton, Pinkoes and Traitors. The BBC and the Nation 1974-1987
Irresistible to anyone who followed British politics and broadcasting of this period, and also an important scholarly text.
Dr. Peter Frankopan, Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research
Christopher Tyerman, How to Plan a Crusade: Reason and Religious War in the Middle Ages
Wonderfully written and characteristically brilliant account of the logistics (and motivations) that underpinned the Crusades.
Frank McDonough, The Gestapo. The Myth and Reality of Hitler’s Secret Police (2015). Haunting and terrifying account of the way in which Germany actually functioned under what was referred to at Nuremberg as a 'criminal organization.’
Mary Carrington Newton-Abraham, Visiting Professor in Medical, Biological and Chemical Science
Junichiro Tanizaki, The Makioka Sisters (1957)
A gentle glimpse of the lives of four Japanese sisters in the late 1930’s when tradition was rapidly eroding. Jane Austen would have liked this book.
Paul Gallico, The Snow Goose (1941)
Haunting story of the friendship between a young girl and a disabled recluse brought together by a wounded goose. The best sentimental novella on the shelf.
Dr Grant Tapsell, Fellow and Tutor in History, Lady Margaret Hall
Shelby Foote,The Civil War: A Narrative
Running to nearly 3000 pages, this mesmerising account of the defining four years of modern American history is one for readers who think Robert Caro has cut too many corners in his LBJ biography. Although stunningly well-written by any standard, it helps to have heard Foote's hypnotic Southern drawl (youtube obliges) and to imagine him reading it.
Letters from Oxford: Hugh Trevor-Roper to Bernard Berenson
'What a vortex academic politics are, you do not need to be told... you sit outside it, only seeing the occasional blood-stained froth which a shift in the wind carries past your eyes, or hearing, muted by intervening distance, the elaborate, leaned, archaic squeals of the temporary victims. I say 'temporary' because, of course, our academic politics never determine anything of significance.'
Letter-writer par excellence Hugh Trevor Roper, former Regius Professor of Modern History
John Watts, Professor of Later Medieval History
Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now
My stand-out read of the year. I had been told not to read Trollope at school, but thought the vision of society was Eliot-class and strikingly modern in its take on class, race and gender.
Colm Toibin, Brooklyn
Wonderfully drawn story of the competition between family/Ireland and romantic love/USA. For me, it’s a gay novel in straight clothing.
Brooklyn has been adapted from Colm Toibin's novel to become one of the year's most celebrated films
John Gray, formerly of the University’s Politics department, today a philosopher
Grevel Lindop, Charles Williams: The Third Inkling
A biography of a semi-forgotten but highly original member of the Inklings group that contained C S Lewis and JR Tokien
CS Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
An extremely evocative science fiction novel, or fantastic fiction, which imagines what intelligent Life on Mars might be like
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