A fresh and balanced argument, though unlikely to convince most NRA members that liberals aren’t the enemy.



Former New York Times reporter and editor Whitney (All The Stops: The Glorious Pipe Organ and Its American Masters, 2003, etc.) mounts an evenhanded review of the gun issue in the United States.

There’s a gun for every American, writes the author, “about 100 million of them handguns,” and the National Rifle Association has emerged as one of the most powerful lobbies in the country, with outsized political clout. To hear the NRA tell it, gun rights are constantly under assault thanks to a liberal administration, even if President Barack Obama has rarely addressed the topic. Whitney examines the reasons for preserving private ownership of firearms, one being the well-worn constitutional bit about the “well-regulated militia”—though, thanks to an ardently pro-gun Supreme Court, you “don’t have to be part of any militia to exercise it”—and he endorses the broad notion that guns have a role in maintaining liberty, though that role has since been supplanted by still broader notions of self-defense. The author argues that because it is now unconstitutional to ban classes of weapons used in self-defense (including, apparently, machine guns and assault rifles), authorities and citizens would do better to press not for gun control as such, but instead to require training in the use and maintenance of weapons and to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not be holding them. “Instead of fighting chimerical battles,” writes Whitney, “American gun-rights and gun-control enthusiasts should be talking to each other about what can be done…to reduce gun violence, particularly by addressing the criminal and psychopathological behavior patterns that cause it.”

A fresh and balanced argument, though unlikely to convince most NRA members that liberals aren’t the enemy.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61039-169-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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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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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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