Pedantic and self-righteous.




Writer canoes in the wake of Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), sees much, expounds a lot, says a little.

Leff, a retired environmental official who has written about his Connecticut hometown (The Last Undiscovered Place, 2004), defines himself as a “deep traveler”: interested not primarily in getting from point A to B but in experiencing all that lies between. Military history, sociology, urban planning, the rise and fall of the mill economy, water pollution, the history of highways, the evolution of the canoe, the ugly ubiquity of big-box stores—these are what deep travelers consider as unobservant slobs gun their SUVs to the mall to get fat and buy superfluous stuff. Leff doesn’t reproduce Thoreau’s journey—impossible because of changes in the waterways and the closing of canals—but he does explore it, sometimes following his predecessor’s itinerary, sometimes going in the opposite direction. With him for various stages of a journey taken in several installments over several years were his young son, who complained of boredom until Nature won him over; a city-planner friend; and his future wife, with whom he exchanged snippy dialogue that seemingly escaped from one of Robert B. Parker’s less successful thrillers. Indeed, much of the conversation here is stilted and staged, with people speaking in earnest epigrams and structured paragraphs. Throughout, the author keeps company with some ghosts of travelers past, evoking and quoting not just Thoreau but also Ray Mungo and John McPhee, who published an essay on replicating the trip in 2003. Leff is not always complimentary, sneering with populist disdain at McPhee as a writer for an “urbane New Yorker audience.” Nor is he always entirely accurate; Leff calls Thoreau a “loner,” a characterization belied in Robert Sullivan’s recent, and much better, The Thoreau You Don’t Know (2009).

Pedantic and self-righteous.

Pub Date: April 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58729-789-2

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Univ. of Iowa

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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