Alumni authors: V-Z

Many of our alumni are published authors. If you have written a book and would like to appear on these pages, please let us know via alumnicommunications@contacts.bham.ac.uk 

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Dr (Henry) Russell Walden (PhD Theology, 1978)

Triumphs of Change - Architecture Reconsidered, 2011, Peter Lang

This book is born out of a sense of scepticism with self-indulgence in architecture. It seeks a new prescription for readdressing architecture as an expression of human need. Sense, sagacity and the sublime define the architectural realities of its organising principle, while gods and goddesses; princes and prelates; corporate clients and citizens identify strategic shifts in Western Civilisation. The book carries the judgment of democracy derived from Greek goddess Athena. This is followed by the measured building world of Le Thoronet which advances unswervingly towards the Paris Opera - the greatest processional triumph of the 19th Century. The finale deals with Frank Lloyd Wright at Falling Water, Le Corbusier at Ronchamp, Renzo Piano at Kansai Airport, Japan, and Santiago Calatrava's winged vehemence at Milwaukee, USA.

The book concludes with a thoughtful reminder - emphasising the values of human engagement while providing philosophical support for the social contract in architecture

Ann Widdecombe (BA Latin, 1969) 

An Act of Peace, 2005, Weidenfeld & Nicolson

This is the story of Klaus-Pierre Dessin, the illegitimate son of a young French woman and a high-ranking German soldier, who fall in love in Paris during the Nazi occupation in WWII. He goes to university in Heidelberg and England where he discovers that people are similar regardless of nationality. And he falls in love...

Robert Widders (MSocSc Heritage Management, 1997)

The Emperor's Irish Slaves: Prisoners of the Japanese in the Second World War, History Press, 2012

Sister Mary Cooper died in a Japanese prison camp on 26 June 1943, from the combined effects of starvation, brutality, and tropical diseases. Timothy Kenneally and Patrick Fitzgerald tried to escape from a slave labour camp on the Burma Railway: They were caught, tortured – probably crucified – and then executed on 27 March 1943. And Patrick Carberry spent the summer of 1943 cremating the emaciated corpses of his comrades, who had died from cholera.

These people had two things in common: they were Irish citizens serving in the British armed forces; and they were amongst more than 650 Irish men and women who became prisoners of the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942. Nearly a quarter of them died whilst in Japanese captivity – this is their story.  

Franziska Wittenberg (née Salzberger) (BCom Industrial Economics & Business Studies, 1949)

Experiencing Endings and Beginnings, 2013, Karnac Books

Throughout life we undergo many changes in our circumstances, beginnings and endings of relationships, gains and losses. This book highlights the emotional turmoil which, to a greater or lesser extent, accompanies these changes. It considers the nature of the anxieties aroused by a new situation and the ending of a previous state at various stages in life. Endings and beginnings are shown to be closely related, for every new situation entered into, more often than not, involves having to let go of some of the advantages of the previous one as well as losing what is familiar and facing fear of the unknown.

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Dr Nicholas Yablon (BA History, 1994)

Untimely Ruins: An Archaeology of American Urban Modernity 1819-1919, University of Chicago Press, 2010

American ruins have become increasingly prominent, whether in discussions of “urban blight” and home foreclosures, in commemorations of 9/11, or in postapocalyptic movies. In this highly original book, Nick Yablon argues that the association between American cities and ruins dates back to a much earlier period in the nation’s history. Recovering numerous scenes of urban desolation—from failed banks, abandoned towns, and dilapidated tenements to the crumbling skyscrapers and bridges envisioned in science fiction and cartoons—Untimely Ruins challenges the myth that ruins were absent or insignificant objects in nineteenth-century America.