THE BIRTH OF THE NATION

PORTRAIT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ON THE EVE OF INDEPENDENCE

The author, who finished this book just before his death in 1965, was a Harvard professor of considerable stature as well as the father of Arthur, Jr. From a scholarly point of view, the book sidesteps the preludes to the domestic, democratic revolution which developed concurrently with the War of Independence; instead, Schlesinger merely claims that everyone took a class structure for granted. But then legislative struggles lie on the periphery of this study. It is a social history in its best and largest descriptions. Bundling, smuggling, coping with sewage and crime, the colonists seem as vital a bunch as we were brought up to believe. There is an adumbration of the darker side (Yankee slave-traders as well as Southern masters) and a few cliche-busters (only a minority formally belonged to any church). Yet it's principally the sweeter, lighter side—scant mention of the French and Indian Wars; a claim that the aristocracy was benign and unresented; little about taxes and governmental structures; and little inkling of the half-hearted support for the Spirit of '76. It's an utter delight to read; no substitute for classics like the Beards, Dorfman or Jameson, much less new, rigorous scholarship—but a worthy complement.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 1968

ISBN: 0241017149

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1968

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

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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