Los Angeles Times reporter Savage engrossingly chronicles a sea change in the nation's high court—its transformation, under Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, from guardian of an expansively interpreted Bill of Rights into a highly restrained and, toward government authority, profoundly deferential court. Savage tells a story much like an updated version of The Brethren, but without the gossipy flavor. The Burger Court depicted by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong was dominated by liberal activist William Brennan and, like the Warren Court before it, read the Bill of Rights broadly and creatively to invalidate a wide range of statutes in the name of equity of civil liberties and human rights. By contrast, the Court that Savage describes has come increasingly under the control of Rehnquist and his narrow and literalist reading of the Constitution. Savage gives a term-by-term account, beginning with Rehnquist's elevation to the Chief Justiceship in 1986 and ending with the departure of the last Warren Court liberal, Thurgood Marshall, and the turbulent confirmation of his successor, Clarence Thomas. Along the way, the author offers anecdotal portraits of each justice, emphasizing the conservatives of the Reagan/Bush years who have transformed the Court—O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Souter. Savage focuses on cases raising highly visible issues—abortion, the death penalty, employment discrimination, for example—to demonstrate the Court's evolving approach to Constitutional adjudication, but does not neglect more arcane cases. The consistent philosophical threads in the Rehnquist Court's approach, he explains, are its deference to legislative majorities and governmental authority, and its disinclination to uphold challenges to such authority. Savage concludes that ``to a remarkable degree, the new Court mirrors the affable but solidly conservative man who leads it.'' A thoughtful, well-researched look at the current pronounced conservatism of a most enigmatic and influential institution. (Eight pages of b&w photos—not seen.)

Pub Date: May 15, 1992

ISBN: 0-471-53660-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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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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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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