Funny, insightful, and legitimately illuminating.




The Obama years, through a glass cleverly.

In this faux oral history of the Barack Obama administration, comedian and actor Hughley (I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up: How the Audacity of Dopes is Ruining America, 2012)—writing again with Malice (Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il, 2014, etc.)—consistently amuses and provides a nifty pocket history of the first African-American president’s tenure. Bill and Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Rahm Emanuel, Mitch McConnell, David Axelrod, and a host of other (slightly) fictionalized key political figures recount Obama’s path from charismatic rising star of the Democratic Party to two-term commander in chief in impressive detail. The running commentary effectively parses the significant events of the Obama presidency through a spectrum of solidly reasoned, clearly delineated opposing perspectives. The humor functions on a higher level than the expected potshots reaffirming media stereotypes of the parties involved (though they are also present); the laughs derive more from the intensity of a respondent’s interpretation of an issue, say, than from facile observations of Biden’s buffoonery, the Clintons’ ruthlessness and appetites, etc. The narrative’s most compelling character is first lady Michelle Obama, presented here as unfailingly reasonable, perceptive, and canny about the realities of Washington, D.C.—e.g., “race has been tripping up politicians of every political persuasion since America became a country”; “I don’t know that electing someone like Governor Romney would really be all that much of a change, given American history.” Offhand lines mocking John Edwards’ sleaziness or Cheney’s viciousness raise chuckles, but it is Michelle’s voice that will stick most with readers: wise, rueful, and human, telling the incredible story of an unprecedented moment in American politics and race relations.

Funny, insightful, and legitimately illuminating.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239979-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

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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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