Alumni Services

February 2018

Novels set in India, Iceland and Iraq, a look at contemporary Russia, and an arboreal study of Haddington make up this month's alumni literature.



Rajorshi Chakraborti

Degree PhD English Literature

The Man Who Would Not See

When family suddenly becomes your greatest challenge, mystery, rediscovery.

As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother's life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay's happy home will make good the damage from the past.

At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening. A brother has travelled all the way from small-town India to New Zealand bearing ancient — and false — grudges, and with the implacable objective of blowing up every part of his younger brother's life. Reconciliation was just a Trojan horse. But is Ashim really the villain he appears to be, or is there a method to his havoc?

Published by Penguin, this is the sixth book by Rajorshi.

The Man Who Could Not See


Author Jack Davidson
Degree Law

Bobby Brown - A Life in Football, from Goals to the Dugout

This is Bobby Brown's remarkable life in and out of football, highlighting his debut as Scottish manager in the famous Wembley win over world champions England in 1967. The book charts his progress from schoolboy playing for Queen's Park to Scottish international goalkeeper in wartime and after. Bobby's Fleet Air Arm service is recounted, as is his honours-laden Rangers career, including the first 'Treble' in 1949, as part of their fabled 'Iron Curtain' defence. As a PE teacher he was a part-timer in a full-time team and reveals the pressures that created. His first managerial job at St Johnstone preceded being national manager whose 'highs and lows' are recalled, along with insights into many of the Scottish game's leading figures. In 1971 Bobby left football to be a successful restaurateur and businessman. His non-football interests are covered including the outdoors, the church and family life - along with his delight at his induction to the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.

Bobby Brown - A Life in Football, from Goals to the Dugout


Author Roger P. Kirby
Degree PhD Social Sciences

The Trees of Haddington and District (second edition)

This book is a detailed description of the trees of a large area of East Lothian, centred on the Royal Burgh of Haddington. It is organised to deal both with individual trees, including rare specimens and the many trees planted to commemorate numerous royal visits, historic events and individuals, as well as with trees collectively under different land uses. This much enlarged and updated version of an earlier edition includes sections on amenity trees in public streets, in the larger private gardens, and on eleven local estates. There are specialist sections on fruit trees in orchards and on hedgerow standards. The complex issues of trees and the law are also covered, with original lists of East Lothian Tree Preservation Orders. For the area in and around Haddington, the girth measurements of hundreds of individual trees were compared with measurements taken in 2000, and presented by means of maps, tables and photographs.

As well as completing his Phd at the University, Roger was also a member of the teaching staff in the Geograph department from 1960 -1999.

'The Trees of Haddington and District' is available at Kesley’s Bookshop in Haddington and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.


Author Sally Magnusson
Degree English Language and Literature, Dr hc

The Sealwoman's Gift

In 1627 Barbary pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted some 400 of its people, including 250 from a tiny island off the mainland. Among the captives sold into slavery in Algiers were the island pastor, his wife and their three children. Although the raid itself is well documented, little is known about what happened to the women and children afterwards. It was a time when women everywhere were largely silent.

In this brilliant reimagining, Sally Magnusson gives a voice to Ásta, the pastor's wife. Enslaved in an alien Arab culture Ásta meets the loss of both her freedom and her children with the one thing she has brought from home: the stories in her head. Steeped in the sagas and folk tales of her northern homeland, she finds herself experiencing not just the separations and agonies of captivity, but the reassessments that come in any age when intelligent eyes are opened to other lives, other cultures and other kinds of loving.

The Sealwoman's Gift is about the eternal power of storytelling to help us survive. The novel is full of stories - Icelandic ones told to fend off a slave-owner's advances, Arabian ones to help an old man die. And there are others, too: the stories we tell ourselves to protect our minds from what cannot otherwise be borne, the stories we need to make us happy.

The tenth book and first novel by the well-known broadcaster and writer.

The Sealwoman's Gift


Author Andrew Monaghan
Degree History

Power in Modern Russia - Strategy and Mobilisation

The book explores the Russian leadership's strategic agenda and illuminates the range of problems it faces in implementing it. Given these difficulties and the Russian leadership's concerns about an unstable and increasingly competitive world, the Russian official and expert community often use the term 'mobilisation' to describe the measures that Moscow is increasingly resorting to in order to implement its agenda. The book explores what this means, and concludes that many of the terms used in the Western debate about Russia both misdiagnose the nature of the challenge and misrepresent the situation in Russia. At a time when many of the books about Russia are focused specifically on the war in Ukraine and the deterioration in relations between the Euro-Atlantic community and Russia, or are biographies of Vladimir Putin, it offers a new and unique lens through which to understand how Russia works and how Russian domestic and foreign politics are intimately linked.

Power in Modern Russia - Strategy and Mobilisation


Author Christian Sorensen
Degree Translational Studies


Majid and Munir are best friends who live in Baghdad under U.S. Occupation. They try their best to live normal lives. Ignacio is a private contractor operating out of the U.S. Embassy. Andrea works for the State Department. Dining together every day, Ignacio and Andrea struggle with their jobs as cogs abetting Occupation. As all parties come to terms with the banes of Empire, they each have choices to make: How do I slow down the war machine? What role can I play? What is the meaning of true responsibility? Meanwhile, a third party from a brutal intelligence organisation stalks the Green Zone.


Your book

If you are a member of the alumni community and have recently published a book, we would be delighted to include it in the Alumni Bookshelf. Email the details, along with your degree details, to Brian Campbell:

Email Brian Campbell

Please note

Books are added to the bookshelf in order of submission. 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.