Alumni Services

March 2015

Veterinary graduates dominate this month's bookshelf which also includes a journey into 21st century Russia and a look inside the "spin room" of the modern politician.


Author Roger Windsor
Degree Bacteriology BSc (1964), Veterinary Medicine BVMS (1963)
Book More Sherlock Holmes than James Herriot

Roger Windsor’s stories of life as, first, a naïve student at vet school, then as a junior vet in general practice, and finally as a senior member of the Veterinary Investigation Service running a laboratory in Africa, certainly give James Herriot a run for his money.

His vignettes of animal woe and human frailty have enduring appeal, and the story of setting up such a valuable service in Botswana, and helping to build that country’s agricultural and forensic veterinary resources, is truly fascinating. With his particular talent for veterinary detective work and more general eye for a character sketch and a tall tale,

Windsor will keep even the most animal averse readers turning the pages of this hilarious and touching autobiography.

More Sherlock Holmes than James Herriot: The Veterinary Detectives


Author Nessa Carey
Degree Veterinary Pathology and Bacteriology PhD (1993)
Book Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

From the author of the acclaimed The Epigenetics Revolution ('A book that would have had Darwin swooning' - Guardian) comes another thrilling exploration of the cutting edge of human science.

For decades after the structure of DNA was identified, scientists focused purely on genes, the regions of the genome that contain codes for the production of proteins. Other regions - 98% of the human genome - were dismissed as 'junk'. But in recent years researchers have discovered that variations in this 'junk' DNA underlie many previously intractable diseases, and they can now generate new approaches to tackling them.

Nessa Carey explores, for the first time for a general audience, the incredible story behind a controversy that has generated unusually vituperative public exchanges between scientists. She shows how junk DNA plays an important role in areas as diverse as genetic diseases, viral infections, sex determination in mammals, human biological complexity, disease treatments, even evolution itself - and reveals how we are only now truly unlocking its secrets, more than half a century after Crick and Watson won their Nobel prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1962.

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome


Author Barton Swaim
Degree English Literature PhD (2005)
Book The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics

An intimate and hilarious look inside the spin room of the modern politician: a place where ideals are crushed, English is mangled, people are humiliated, and the opportunity for humor is everywhere.

Everyone knows this kind of politician: a charismatic maverick who goes up against the system and its ways, but thinks he doesn’t have to live by the rules. Using his experience as a speechwriter, Barton Swaim tells the story of a band of believers who attach themselves to this sort of ambitious narcissist—what makes them invest in these leaders, how these leaders do provide moments of inspiration, and then how they let them down.

The Speechwriter is a funny and candid introduction to the world of politics, where press statements are purposefully nonsensical, grammatical errors are intentional, and better copy means more words. Through his three years in the office of a controversial governor, Swaim paints a portrait of a man so principled he’d rather sweat than use state money to pay for air conditioning, so oblivious he’d wear the same stained shirt for two weeks, so egotistical he’d belittle his staffers to make himself feel better, and so self-absorbed he never once apologized to his staff for making his administration the laughing stock of the country.

On the surface, this is the story of South Carolina governor Mark Sanford’s rise and fall. But in the end, it’s an account of the very human staffers who go into politics out of conviction and learn to survive a broken heart.

The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics


Author Neville Turner
Degree Veterinary Medicine BVMS (1968)
Book Border Collie: A celebration of man’s best friend

The Border Collie is one of the world’s best-loved dog breeds. Its striking appearance, intelligence and athleticism make it a favourite with pet owners as well as farmers and shepherds.

Former vet Neville Turner shares his love of this dog breed with photos of Border Collies at work, rest and play, accompanied by heartwarming captions, in this celebration of man’s best friend.

Border Collie: A celebration of man’s best friend


Author Beatrice Hale
Degree Social Anthropology (1968)
Book Ice Escape

It’s 1932, the Age of Flight, and twelve year old American boy, John, is flying around the world in a plane piloted by his father. If they make it, they will be the first family to fly around the world. But problems beset them, when their plane, a Sikorsky Amphibian, is forced to crash land on an iceberg off the shores of Greenland. How will they survive. Will help come in time?

Help is coming, from a Scottish deep sea fishing boat, out on the North Sea, pursuing the catch. On the boat, is Colin, also twelve, a boy who has had join the crew to support his family after his own father had died at sea. As the captain steers the boat through the perils of Iceberg Alley, Colin learns his trade.

This is a story about planes and boats, about boys and families, about life on the high seas and in the air of the 1930s, a period of adventure and hardship. It is inspired in part by a true story—the 1932 adventures of the American Hutchinson Family, known as the Flying Family, whose dream of circumnavigating the world by plane ended when they were forced to crash land in the icebergs near Greenland. They and their crew were rescued by the crew of the Scottish fishing vessel, The Lord Talbot.

Ice Escape


Author Peter Pomerantsev
Degree German & English Literature MA (2000)
Book Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible

A journey into the glittering, surreal heart of 21st century Russia: into the lives of Hells Angels convinced they are messiahs, professional killers with the souls of artists, bohemian theatre directors turned Kremlin puppet-masters, supermodel sects, post-modern dictators and oligarch revolutionaries.

This is a world erupting with new money and new power, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, where life is seen as a whirling, glamorous masquerade where identities can be switched and all values are changeable. It is home to a new form of authoritarianism, far subtler than 20th century strains, and which is rapidly expanding to challenge the global order.

An extraordinary book - one which is as powerful and entertaining as it is troubling - Nothing is True and Everything is Possible offers a wild ride into this political and ethical vacuum.

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible


Author Adrian Searle
Degree History and History of Art MA (1989)
Book Look Up Edinburgh

Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, its streets a constant frenetic bustle of activity. But rarely do its residents take the time to stop and look up at the extraordinary architectural heritage all around.

Edinburgh’s ‘festival city’ image belies this world-class architectural detail, comprising of stunning sculpture, ornament, friezes, gables and decoration, the vast majority of which are hidden in plain sight above eye level.

Writer and photographer Adrian Searle has scoured the city, bringing together in one volume a fabulous record of the hidden jewels of ‘the Athens of the North’, created in a time of great wealth and virtuoso craftsmanship now long gone. The book also includes poetry from five of Scotland’s leading poets, responding in very individual ways to Edinburgh’s extraordinary built environment.

Look Up Edinburgh will be a beautiful surprise to residents, visitors and non-residents of Edinburgh alike, demonstrating that it is much more than a tourist trap. It will be a book that those passionate about the city and architecture will treasure.

Look Up Edinburgh

Please note

All of the further information links listed are the external websites of the book publisher, the author, or the bookseller. The University of Edinburgh is not responsible for the content and functionality of these sites.