An expatriate journalist's vivid, authoritative, and righteously indignant account of a defining moment in the troubled, turbulent history of Colombia. Drawing on hitherto unavailable sources, Carrigan (Salvador Witness, 1984) offers a tellingly detailed hour-by-hour record of a national catastrophe that captured the world's attention. On a November morning nearly eight years ago, 35 heavily armed M-19 guerrillas invaded Bogot†'s Palace of Justice, home to Colombia's Supreme Court and Council of State. President Belisario Betancur and his cabinet gave the country's military a free hand to oust the rebels (who had seized scores of hostages) by whatever means it deemed necessary. When the guns fell silent 27 hours later, over one hundred people lay dead and one of the capital city's great buildings had been reduced to rubble. The toll included 11 justices, virtually all the insurgents, one soldier, and eight policemen (most of whom fell to friendly fire). Once the murderous battle ended, Colombia's political elite and armed forces closed ranks to put an acceptably plausible spin on an apocalyptic event. In a violent land where dissidents of any stripe fear for their lives, it's not surprising that the establishment's cover-up version of truth prevailed. As Carrigan (who's Colombian on her mother's side) makes clear, however, Medell°n's druglords played no role in what was essentially an ill-advised and poorly planned assault by leftist revolutionaries. Nor was the government standing on principle in its refusal to negotiate. Indeed, Carrigan shows that the incumbent regime was intent on annihilating the rebels at any cost and hence was largely indifferent to the fate of the high officials and others they held captive. Moreover, that most civilian casualties were gunned down at point-blank range by trigger-happy troops speaks volumes, in Carrigan's view, about the desperate state of Colombia's democratic institutions. An unsparing and convincingly documented tract that could do for Colombia what Zola's J'accuse did for France.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 1993

ISBN: 0-941423-82-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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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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