More sophisticated than the typical gods-for-clods survey, but far less interesting.

FROM OLYMPUS TO CAMELOT

THE WORLD OF EUROPEAN MYTHOLOGY

An overview, dry as the dust of the Parthenon, of the major streams of ancient European mythmaking and of modern scholarship thereon.

Leeming (English, Comp. Lit./Univ. of Conn., Storrs; Stephen Spender: A Life in Modernism, 1999, etc.) is working on fertile ground here; who could fail to be fascinated, for instance, by stories of magical men who turn themselves into maggots to infest sacred cows, of giant oak trees that block out the sun, of screeching harridans whose scary hovels rest on stilts made of chicken bones? Yet, darting from one mythic tradition—Slavic, Hellenic, Celtic—to another, Leeming spends little time retelling such stories, instead offering schematic summaries of such grand tales as the Tain, the Mabinogion, and the Prose Edda, buttressed by snippets of history—a couple of pages on archaic Greece here, a paragraph on the arrival of Christianity to Ireland there. His forays into the scholarship on, say, proto-Indo-European society are similarly cursory, and they overlook the considerable controversies that have developed around such matters as the Dumezilian elaboration of that society into “tripartite functions” headed by priests and warriors (a reconstruction that, some have charged, reflects the late Georges Dumezil’s devotion to fascism more than the historical record). Leeming peppers his slender narrative with provocative remarks that bear further discussion, as when he links Adam Smith’s notion of the “invisible hand,” a metaphysical construct through and through, to “the old Judeo-Christian mythology,” adding that the modern marketplace is itself something of a mythological being. One imagines that this will be most useful for students in courses on comparative mythology. General readers certainly won’t find it a gripping read; they’ll do better to turn to The Golden Bough, whose doubtful scholarship is at least offset by good storytelling.

More sophisticated than the typical gods-for-clods survey, but far less interesting.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-19-514361-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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