An abiding commitment to justice brings a positive tone to a depressing subject. Neier, former executive director of Human Rights Watch and the ACLU, weaves together the history of human atrocities with recent events in the former Yugoslavia (and, to a much lesser extent, Rwanda), unveiling the appalling fact that despite WWII and the subsequent war crimes trials, at the end of this century brutality is, if anything, worse than ever. The siege of Sarajevo can be distinguished from the ravaging of cities in WWII, for example, because the former’s destruction of nonmilitary targets and civilians cannot be appropriately characterized as collateral damage: “Removing or destroying the civilians and their cultural monuments was the whole point.” Neier’s succinct background summary illuminates the class and cultural animosity that accompanied ethnic hatred and produced a situation in which the prosperous citizens, cosmopolitan values, and mixed ethnicity of Sarajevo were attacked by the relatively poor, provincial, and ethnically pure Serbians. In an attempt to be nonpartisan without flinching from judgment, Neier recognizes that all parties in the Bosnian conflict “committed atrocities” but rejects as “nonsense” any claim that all sides were equally to blame. His real concern is not pointing the finger at an ethnic group, however, but rather the prosecution of individuals. He applauds the establishment of a tribunal to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for atrocities in Bosnia, and insofar as there is a general purpose underlying this effort, it is to promote the formation of a permanent International Criminal Court to facilitate the prosecution of war crimes. Neier’s hopes for future action may reflect an unrealistic confidence that judicial proceedings can produce justice, but given the state of human affairs, the need for justice is undeniable. (2 maps)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8129-2381-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

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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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