The author provides little information that informed readers don’t already know, but the gripping anecdotal evidence has...

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WHITE COAT BLACK HAT

ADVENTURES ON THE DARK SIDE OF MEDICINE

Elliott (Bioethics/Univ. of Minnesota; Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream, 2003, etc) examines the part played by the pharmaceutical industry in constructing “a medical system in which deception is often not just tolerated but rewarded.”

While some abuses—including the use of subjects to test drugs without informed consent—are not new, these practices continue despite the existence of regulatory institutional-review boards set up by Congress, because these too have now become profit centers. Elliott writes that pharmaceutical companies hire PR specialists who not only supply educational materials to promote products, they also train medical professionals to be “opinion leaders” and even write papers in their name. In 1998, the Journal of the American Medical Association “found evidence of ghost authorship in 11 percent of articles published in six major American medical journals.” In the late-’90s, articles touting the benefits of the weight-loss drug Fen-Phen—later taken off the market because of potentially fatal side effects—were a key piece in a “complex multimillion-dollar public relations strategy” that minimized worries about the safety of the drug. Market-research firms, writes the author, profile doctors as a preliminary to major sales campaigns offering them tickets to sports events and inviting them on junkets in order to persuade them to become advocates for new drugs. Further, medical professionals are offered research grants and paid large honorariums for speaking engagements and other events. Disguised marketing is even more insidious—e.g., treating menopause as a disease that transforms a woman into a “dull-minded but sharp-tongued caricature of her former self” in order to promote estrogen-replacement therapy.

The author provides little information that informed readers don’t already know, but the gripping anecdotal evidence has important societal implications.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8070-6142-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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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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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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