Idiosyncratic but vivid account of the times—and, less successfully, the life—of the great WW I French leader Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929). Dallas (The Imperfect Peasant Economy, 1982—not reviewed) believes that, of all the recent major war leaders, Clemenceau, while one of the most unusual, remains the least known to English- language readers. Regarded as an extreme leftist, Clemenceau was 65 before he first gained national office (as minister of the interior), though he'd been in the French Parliament for more than 30 years, where he was famed as a destroyer of ministries—and of men—rather than as a creative figure. During these years, he fought his share of the duels that were then still a feature of French political life. (On one celebrated occasion, one of his opponents told Parliament that there were ``three things about him that you dread: his sword, his pistol, his tongue.'') As a journalist, Clemenceau's output was prodigious and often remarkably prescient: His views on colonialism, race, and unions were far ahead of his times. His first tenure as PM lasted three years, one of the longest tenures in the Third Republic. But his fame rests on his period in office during the last year of the war, as the French, seemingly having exhausted all other alternatives, were forced to rely on his genius. Given his high profile, it's curious how little sense we have of what sort of man Clemenceau was. Dallas calls him ``the most distant, the most elusive, the most secret of men,'' and regrettably does little to penetrate the secret—making almost no reference, for instance, to Clemenceau's private affairs, which were as elusive as the rest of his life: He married an American woman and seems to have spent very little time with her, though it was some years before they divorced. Clemenceau remains an enigma here but his era comes alive through Dallas's high-flown but lively approach. (Twenty-four pages of b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-7867-0000-9

Page Count: 640

Publisher: N/A

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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