DENG XIAOPING

MY FATHER

Communist Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping has been a major player on the world stage, but his daughter/biographer Deng Maomao fails to do him justice. Deng's turgid prose may be the fault of the translation, and no one expects objectivity from a daughter writing about a living father, but this out-and-out hagiography contains nothing to make up for those faults. She does describe in detail Deng's youth in Sichuan Province and also traces his travels to France, where as an exchange student he studied socialist ideology. This was a pivotal period in Deng's life, which laid the political framework for the war against the Nationalist Chinese. Deng's years as a young revolutionary in China are covered adequately enough, and there is worthwhile material on his relationship with Mao Zedong and other Communist leaders. However, the book is ultimately frustrating because the biographer chooses to end the narrative with the Communists' coming to power, and the reader is left wanting to know about Deng's tenure at the top. That is an unsettling omission for a biography of a prominent political figure. Further, rather than confining herself to Deng's life, the author attempts to cover the entire Chinese Revolution and the dynasties proceeding it. Her qualifier that she is not a historian is unnecessary; the reader soon grasps her shortcomings in that area. The younger Deng also has an irritating habit of drifting into political jeremiads, and the book suffers terribly from its poor organization. Despite the great disappointment, old and young ``China hands'' will have to at least peruse this to keep up with the current view on the historic events that swept China in this century—which matches the course of Deng Xiaoping's life. (b&w photos; maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1995

ISBN: 0-465-01625-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1994

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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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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