The impact of the Bible on England's experiment as a republic, charted expertly by one of the leading historians of the period. The American, French, and Russian revolutionaries consciously looked back for inspiration to the great conflict between king and parliament in mid-17th-century England; but the English of that time had no precedent, and the Bible, widely accessible in translation for over a hundred years, was their equivalent of Rousseau and Marx. Hill (The Experience of Defeat, 1984, etc.), author of over 20 books on the English revolution, offers a detailed study of just how the Bible was understood during the turbulent years of civil war, the strong-man rule by Cromwell, and the restoration of a modified monarchy. He shows how the history of Israel was used to justify both defense and defiance of the king in God's name, and how biblical allusions became a kind of code for spreading new ideas in spite of censorship. Hill draws on literary evidence, especially from his heroes Milton and Bunyan, and he traces themes such as anti-Christ, covenant, and the identification of Israel with Puritan England. Bible-reading by the common people, he says, led to a proliferation of radical groups (Diggers, Levellers, Ranters and the like) who questioned the whole established order and had a strong millenarian tendency. Hill is at home with these early socialists: Gerrard Winstanley, for example, thought all Scripture mere allegory to be freely interpreted by each one's ``inner light''—a view that in effect dethroned the Bible and led, in the following century, to its replacement by reason. Hill writes with touches of English humor, but the absence of a strong narrative makes the wealth of quotations confusing for anyone without a sound knowledge of the period. Not for the casual reader, but a gold mine for history students and those interested in the Puritan origins of the US.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-713-99078-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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