A delightfully arch, irreverent handbook for those who dare to speak or write the King’s English—Kingsley Amis’s English, that is. The late author, who earned his reputation as one of the Angry Young Men of British literature in the 1950s, apparently reserved his greatest ire for those who misused language. To do so willfully in print was an indication of bad judgment, to do so unwittingly in conversation was mere stupidity. In an effort to curtail the abuse of the King’s own (and to launch an attack on creeping Americanisms, such as the use of —advocate— and —progress— as verbs), Amis wrote a —guide to modern usage— that isn—t. But it is a gleeful intellectual stomp through malapropisms, false unions, split infinitives, danglers, floaters, berks, and wankers. Think of it as a twisted Strunk & White for the English middle class, to which the London-born, Cambridge-educated Amis certainly belonged. But he was no avatar of class-consciousness—in fact, just the opposite. He deplored the excessive use of French and discouraged affected pronunciation. Anglicized French words, like —hors d—oeuvres,— for example, were to be pronounced with robust disregard for accuracy. Seen from an American angle, Amis’s book provides a highly entertaining glimpse into the social implications of speech in Britain—where accent so influences public image—as well as Amis’s own stylistic consciousness, which permeates this text. (Who else would devote a lengthy entry to —Pronunciation: he-she—?) But Amis’s handbook has a serious undercurrent, as well, no matter how dry the author’s wit. —I am sustained,— he wrote, —by reflecting that the defense of language is too large a matter to be left to the properly qualified.— Although useless as a guide to the English language, Amis’s book functions as a droll literary tract and a reminder that —the price of a good style, like that of other desirable things, is eternal vigilance.