Veteran historical biographer Wilson (The Astors: Landscape with Millionaires , 1993, etc.) takes a long look at England’s Charles I and the man who ultimately caused his downfall. Oliver Cromwell and Charles Stuart had little personal contact, and there is no detailed record of any meeting between them. Nonetheless, Wilson pens interesting portraits of the Scottish-born king whose religious and economic policies tore apart Great Britain and the zealous Protestant who rose from Member of Parliament to leader of the victorious “Ironsides” force and of the New Model Army, as well as signatory of Charles’s death warrant. In separate biographical sections, Wilson does an admirable job of covering the complex religious and political schism that rocked England and Scotland, and summarizes for general readers the wealth of extant material on both men’s lives. But his attempts to contrast the two men’s personalities, upbringing, education, and beliefs programmatically are unexceptional. Placing his subjects in specious proximity to each other’s spheres of action, Wilson takes leaps that his sources cannot support, often guessing at their motives and perceptions, as when he asserts that prior to their first meeting Cromwell saw his monarch only in the context of his —royal mystique” and that the King had no real knowledge of his Puritan opponent. Better as two good biographies than one mediocre one. (16 pages b&w illus.)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-312-24405-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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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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