Kenyan writer Cass rips the mask off Joy Adamson of Born Free fame to reveal a woman of monstrous flaws, considerable talents, and a redeeming generosity. The second daughter of an ill-matched Austrian couple who soon divorced, Adamson was raised in Vienna by a beloved grandmother. There, in the years between the wars, she studied music, then flitted ``from one new artistic endeavor to another.'' Stunningly beautiful, she had a number of affairs, the most serious of which led to an illegal abortion that nearly killed her. Her Jewish first husband, worried about the Nazis, sent her to East Africa in 1936 to scout out the possibility of settling there. It was a fateful trip, for during it Adamson not only met the botanist who would be her second husband but became enthralled by Africa itself. Divorcing her first husband, she settled in Kenya, married the botanist, and accompanied him throughout the country collecting rare plants. Adamson, though difficult and demanding, proved herself a real trooper in the wild, and her paintings of plant specimens earned her a considerable reputation as an artist. But congenitally restless in bed and elsewhere, she soon was having further affairs, a 1942 visit to the remote camp of naturalist George Adamson leading to her third marriage. Cass, who knew Joy, describes the raising of Elsa the lion cub; the writing of Born Free; the realities of the Adamsons' marriage—more a bruising brawl than a love-fest; Joy's murder, probably by a servant she'd typically mistreated; her great generosity to conservation; and Joy herself, who, despite all her faults, ``remained passionately in love with life—a firm believer that, through animals, man would discover his soul.'' Cass, gossipy but fair-minded, shows Adamson to have been as ruthless and predatory as her beloved lions but also—sometimes—as splendid. (Color and b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-297-81141-X

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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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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