A fascinating look at the life and thought of the great jurist and scholar that vividly connects his sometimes dry legal pedantry and his remarkable life and personality. White (Law and History/University of Virginia; Earl Warren, 1982, etc.—not reviewed) presents a more rounded portrait than Livia Baker's The Justice from Beacon Hill (1991), which emphasized Holmes's life and character. Instead, White underscores the evolution of the jurist's unique career and jurisprudence from the unusual circumstances of his life. White represents Holmes's commitment to ``professionalism'' as a reaction against the dilettantish literary culture of his father: The jurist, he tells us, gave up his early love of letters and philosophy in order to devote himself totally to legal scholarship (he became editor of the prestigious American Law Review while still a practicing attorney). White also doesn't neglect the effect of Holmes's Civil War career on his philosophy: Holmes spent most of the war recovering from wounds incurred at Ball's Bluff, Antietam, and Chancellorsville, and White speculates that the experience led to an early emphasis on ``duties'' rather than rights in Holmes's legal thought. The author points out, however, that this emphasis faded after Holmes became a judge, first on Massachusetts's Supreme Court, then on the US Supreme Court; he evolved, in fact, into one of the early champions of First Amendment rights. White devotes a chapter to Holmes's classic The Common Law (1881), which he shows as reflecting the pragmatic and empirical cast of Holmes's thought, and he also discusses at length the quirks of Holmes's personal life—his childless marriage, his many flirtations, and his emotionally significant romance with Clare Castletown—making the jurist come alive despite the many contradictions of his personality. Here, Holmes is depicted not as the civil libertarian of legal myth but as a judge and scholar whose jurisprudence reflected his life and the intellectual milieu in which he lived. A fine, balanced portrait. (Fourteen halftones)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-19-508182-X

Page Count: 624

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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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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