LOUIS BRANDEIS SLEPT HERE

A SLIGHTLY CYNICAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN JEWS

An often wise and always wisecracking popular review of American Jewish history. This highly subjective and discursive history is everywhere personal and opinionated. Gleicher—an observant Jew, Chicago lawyer, and son of Holocaust survivors—sees Reform Judaism as a doomed, assimilationist aberration; gives lawyers from Brandeis to Dershowitz extra attention; vilifies past American Jewish leaders for not doing enough during the Holocaust; and credits Holocaust survivors with rescuing traditional Judaism. The outline of American Jewish history is thorough if terse, and often straightforward and serious. But Gleicher can't resist gags, even adding humorous footnotes to some passages. One such note ``exposes'' Marranos for giving a pledge during a church appeal, and another suggests that synagogue sisterhoods could sell tickets to brawls between rabbis and their congregants and turn the fights into huge fundraisers. There are many delicious ironies and hypocrisies noted here, and Gleicher's eye for anti-Semitism—on the part of Jews as well as gentiles—adds much that is missing in more serious histories of American Jewry. But other all-too-candid remarks about black-Jewish and Jewish-gentile relations might better have been left out. The chauvinism is leavened by the use of humor and first-person pronouns; but it is still sufficiently apparent to limit Gleicher's potential audience to right-wing traditional Jews like himself. Introducing his bibliography, Gleicher closes with a final crack: ``This book is a survey, not a detailed text. Therefore it is my responsibility to direct you to further readings . . . from where I derived all my facts, figures, and biased opinions.'' Professor Graetz meets Jackie Mason in this easy-reading American Jewish history with plenty of facts, insights, chutzpah, and shtick.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 965-229-167-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997

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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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