A COLD WAR ODYSSEY

A stunningly shallow and vapid memoir from a man whose lengthy stint as a midlevel official with various federal agencies coincided with the Cold War's beginning and end. For briefly stated reasons that don't ring true, Nuechterlein presents his own story as that of David Bruening and tells it in the third person, using fictitious names for most of the people he dealt with in the course of what appears to have been an uncommonly interesting professional life. Unfortunately, it's difficult to gauge the extent of the author's engagement or excitement because he writes with all the panache of a metronome. By way of example, accounts of his father's birthday observances are accorded the same matter-of-fact detail as momentous global events with which Nuechterlein is personally familiar. In once-over-lightly fashion, he recalls a career that began in 1946 with an editorial post at the official organ of the US Military Government in occupied Germany. He subsequently worked for the USIA in Iceland and Thailand and for the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Burned out from 12-hour days by 1968, he accepted a professorship in international relations at the University of Virginia's Federal Executive Institute (which provides advanced training for senior civil servants). Retiring at 63 in 1988, he continues to work as a visiting professor and foreign-policy expert. But no particular insight that he might have gained is evident here. His deadly earnest statements range from the pronouncement (on William Casey) that ``it's dangerous to have a CIA director who's so powerful he can cut out the State and Defense departments from operations'' through the empty assurance that a tour of Mauthausen (a Nazi concentration camp) ``was an emotional experience as well as an educational one.'' Dispensable reminiscences from a low-level cold warrior unable to convey any real sense of what it meant or felt like to live in challenging times.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8131-2027-6

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kentucky

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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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