From alpha to omega, an engrossing account.




How one book changed English history.

You may think Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth is the most important work of English literature, but Bobrick (Angel in the Whirlwind, 1997, etc.) is out to show you that the English translations of the Bible have actually been far more influential. And from the very first chapter, his argument is delightful and informative. We meet John Wycliffe, a theologian and philosopher who stirred up particular controversy with his challenges to the traditional doctrine of the Eucharist: Bobrick paints a charming portrait of 14th-century Oxford, where Wycliffe spent most of his adult life living in thatched cottages with mud floors, dining on thin soup, owning few books, and participating in some of the world’s first town and gown rivalries. A reformer before the Reformation, Wycliffe disdained indulgences, hated the corrupt wealth of many monasteries, and wanted English people to be able to read the Bible in English for themselves. He inspired the 1382 Wycliffe Bible, translated from the Latin by Nicholas Hereford and other disciples. Next we meet Tyndale, who in the 16th century translated the Bible into accessible and brisk prose. Then comes King James. Around the end of Elizabeth’s reign, there was agitation for a new translation. James convened a committee to translate the Bible anew, giving us the King James Version, which, says Bobrick, “held undisputed sway in the English-speaking world for more than two centuries.” The English Bibles were not just literarily influential; they were politically influential too—for, according to Bobrick, the radical doctrine that each individual was to interpret Scripture as he sees fit led directly to the English revolution. Five useful indices—which chart, inter alia, the chronology of the Bible from Old Testament times, the chronology of English Bibles, and comparative translations—are included.

From alpha to omega, an engrossing account.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-684-84747-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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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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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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