A pleasant voyage with a genial, worthy captain—though we do sail to many places we have been before.



A veteran copy editor debuts with an account of his beliefs, preferences, and peeves about contemporary English grammar and usage.

Dreyer—vice president, executive managing editor, and copy chief at Random House—rehearses a bit of his personal history with the copy editing profession and then takes us on a journey to the many major and minor isles of written English. In most ways, the author is not an Ahab-ian captain. He recognizes the arbitrary nature of many of our “rules” (after all, we made up most of this stuff). Early on, he explains the silliness of our adherence to such things as never splitting infinitives, never starting sentences with “But” or “And,” never ending sentences with prepositions. Soon, however, Dreyer begins to list specific dos and don’ts, instructing us on the uses of commas, colons, parentheses, and quotation marks. He pauses to explain the difference between an en- and an em-dash, between “who” and “whom,” and “lie” and “lay.” He also has some fun with dangling modifiers. In fact, Dreyer has fun throughout, exhibiting a light tone and a sly sense of humor. He could not resist, when reminding us of the difference between “hanged” and “hung,” that some men are, indeed, hung. He thinks we are losing the battle against “alright” and doesn’t really observe the difference between “nauseated” and “nauseous,” but he does like the distinction between “each other” and “one another.” Also included are some sections on the correct spelling of proper names and on the use of the word Frankenstein (the creator, not the creature). He wryly reminds us that “clichés should be avoided like the plague” and that we really shouldn’t trust internet memes as a source for authentic quotations.

A pleasant voyage with a genial, worthy captain—though we do sail to many places we have been before.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9570-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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