An absorbing and well-written introductory history to Anglo- American law which should edify lawyer and layperson alike. Attorney Knight's book takes its title from the famous quote of Oliver Wendell Holmes: ``The life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience.'' Because ``the meaning of the law is becoming inaccessible not only to the public but to the bar itself,'' Knight presents a cursory but engaging and useful legal history of England and America. His historical vision sees the development of law as a haphazard series of events rather than a planned, grand scheme. Indeed, elaborating on Holmes's maxim, Knight observes, ``Courts are more like theaters than laboratories, and the truth they produce is felt and apprehended, not carefully measured out.'' Thus, Knight recounts legal history as discrete stories of the people and events which have shaped the major ideologies of our law. Eschewing the turgid prose and detail which typify many legal histories, Knight uses the lighter style of a storyteller, which makes for easy and enjoyable reading. The book consists of 21 chapters discussing the origins, development, and modern applications of pivotal concepts including freedom of the press, personal privacy and the rights of the criminally accused. One of the book's strengths is Knight's debunking of many popular myths. For instance, the Magna Carta did not establish a scheme of civil rights for mankind; Sir Thomas More was noble but no ``apostle of religious tolerance''; and England's Star Chamber did not conduct secret trials. No jurisprude, Knight presents little legal philosophy and scant criticism of legal doctrines; rather, he offers a light but compelling account of the life of the law.

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-517-79990-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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