The Faculty Reading List 2020 – English Edition

Professors and lecturers of Bucerius Law School recommend their favourite books of the year

The Circle

by Dave Eggers

What's it about?

If you’re into Dystopias like “1984” or “The Hunger Games”, you will like this book. And you might think differently about Twitter-Tweets, Instagram Posts or Tik Tok Videos. Dave Egger’s “The Circle” tells the story of a young woman who joins a social media firm which has innovative and disruptive ideas about interconnectivity and information. A central question that resonates through the entire book is: “What is the right balance between access to information and transparency on the one hand and privacy and individualism on the other hand? And who decides about this balance?”

I believe that this book was adapted in a film with Emma Watson, but as far as I read the critiques from the film, the storylines of book and film are somewhat detached. I don’t know the film, but I can recommend the book!

Get at Amazon | Get at Penguin

This book is recommended by:

Dr. Nicole Gottschalck

Nicole Gottschalck is Assistant Professor for ‘Personnel Economics’ at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management.

The Hundred Years’ War, Band I: Trial by Battle, 1990

by Jonathan Sumption

What's it about?

This work catapults readers into the distant world of the 14th Century in recounting the story of the 100 Years War between France and England—from early hostilities through events surrounding the Battle of Crécy and Siege of Calais. Since its publication, three additional volumes have been released: Volume II: Trial by Fire (1999) (I only made it to page 250); Volume III: Divided Houses (2009); Volume IV: Cursed Kings (2015); the fifth volume is still in preparation. It's worth noting that, in addition to being a medieval historian (Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford), the author is a former senior judge who sat on the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom between 2012 and 2018. Volume I is superbly researched and written, meticulously detailed, yet incredibly accessible (it is, after all, the minutiae that make history so interesting!) Bursting at the spine with background information—also from a legal point of view—it’s a total page-turner!

Get at Amazon | Get at Waterstones

 

This book is recommended by:

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Reinhard Zimmermann FBA FRSE

Professor Zimmermann is Affiliate Professor at Bucerius Law School and Director of the Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative & International Private Law.

Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times

by George Crile

What's it about?

This book likely changes the way you look at (US) foreign politics and the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan. It sometimes left me wondering whether I should laugh or cry – but in any case, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was adapted in a film in 2007, with Tom Hanks as Charlie Wilson – which I also recommend to you.

Get at Amazon | Get at Indiebound

This book is recommended by:

Dr. Nicole Gottschalck

Nicole Gottschalck is Assistant Professor for ‘Personnel Economics’ at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 10th Anniversary Edition, 2020

by Michelle Alexander

What's it about?

This award-winning book explores the impact of the American “War on Drugs” and the ways in which it has disadvantaged the black community of the US. Considered pioneering in its approach to the subject, it presents a wealth of data to depict how—with the help of the legal system—a subclass has emerged. Through lucid analysis, the author explores impacts of this construct: lifelong branding of felons, loss of their right to vote, denial of access to public housing and, in large part, the state welfare system—thus leading to a loss of opportunities to participate in society. Even when a reader may not share all of her conclusions and may interpret some of the data differently, Michelle Alexander's work will leave you shaken and stirred for its continued relevance and contribution to current conversations surrounding “Black Lives Matter.”

Get at Amazon | Get at Thalia

This book is recommended by:

Prof. Dr. Thilo Kuntz

Professor Kuntz holds the chair of Private Law, Commercial and Corporate Law, Legal Theory at Bucerius Law School.

The Grapes of Wrath

by John Steinbeck

What's it about?

Through the example of the Joad family, John Steinbeck’s epic novel illustrates the plight of tenant farmers in 1930s Oklahoma and Arkansas: suffering the ravages of the Great Depression and plagued by years of drought and devastating dust storms, hundreds of thousands of impoverished families were driven westward by foreclosures and evictions. Following Route 66, they made their way to California in search of work, land and the promise of a better future; instead, they were met with exploitation, hunger and hostility.

Why this book?

Loaded with themes that are ripe for discussion, this socially critical novel maintains its value through the present. It’s a great read with an incredibly touching story. Despite having been published over eighty years ago, its function as a cautionary tale—spurring readers to rail against unjust social conditions—can be applied to present-day conversations on both income inequality and refugees in our society.

Get at Amazon | Get at Thalia

This book ist recommended by:

Prof. Dr. Matthias Jacobs

Professor Jacobs holds the Chair of Civil Law, Labour Law and Law of Civil Procedure at Bucerius Law School.

BONUS: Film recommendations by Dr. Nicole Gottschalck

Argo
To admit it, I never really liked films with Ben Affleck in a leading role – except for this film! Argo is a film from 2012 which is based on the true story of a spectacular rescue operation of the CIA during the 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis. The story can be summarized in two sentences: How do you get a bunch of diplomats hiding in Teheran out of the country without letting the Iranian authorities know? Disguise them as a film crew and then get the hell out! Great (true) story, great actors, great filming – highly recommended.

Get at Amazon | Stream on Amazon Prime

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Inside Job
Did you ever have the feeling that you did not really understand why the financial crisis 2007-2008 happened? Well, then this Academy-awarded documentary may shed some light. Narrated by Matt Damon, it explores how changes in the policy environment (predominantly in the US) and changed banking practices ultimately led to the financial crisis. The documentary is split into 5 parts, which makes it really easy to follow the story – despite the very complex topic.ery complex topic.

Get at Amazon | Stream on Amazon Prime

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