First published last year in Great Britain, a decent but already dated quickie account of cult leader David Koresh and the conflagration last year at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. Leppard (On the Trail of Terror: The Inside Story of the Lockerbie Investigation, not reviewed), deputy editor of the Sunday Times (of London) ``Insight'' team, draws mainly on court transcripts, official reports, and affidavits rather than on primary sources. He devotes a section each to the March 1993 federal raid that left four agents and six cult members dead, Koresh's background and the cult's cosmology, and the 51-day siege that ended in the fiery (and bullet-riddled) deaths of Koresh and some 80 followers. Most interesting is Leppard's somewhat luridly written tale, based on Koresh's 1988 trial for attempted murder, of how Vernon Wayne Howell, ``a semi-literate ninth-grade drop-out and failed rock guitarist,'' became ``David Koresh, pathological killer and child molester, hell-bent on mass destruction.'' Leppard has a tendency toward breathlessly sensationalist prose: ``What force was at work? Was it some psychopathology which clinical experts could recognize? Was it evil?'' However, this book has already been overtaken by events, such as the 1994 trial of surviving Branch Davidians, whose revelations reflected poorly on the government. Nor has Leppard had the time to fully investigate issues like Attorney General Janet Reno's questionable decision to approve the raid that ended the siege, or to query whether the FBI could have allowed other hostage negotiators, such as those from city police departments, to replace its fatigued agents. Deeper books probing both Koresh and the feds' poor procedures surely are coming. (8 pages b&w photos)

Pub Date: July 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-85702-166-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Fourth Estate/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1994

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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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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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