FREEFALL

THE STORY OF THE NEEDLESS DESTRUCTION OF EASTERN AIRLINES AND THOSE WHO VALIANTLY STRUGGLED TO SAVE IT

A poorly written, ostentatiously scathing, and utterly dispensable log of an airline's slow-motion crackup. On the inside (as the twentysomething VP of corporate development) only during Eastern's last days, Robinson has had to rely on secondary sources to provide background on the forces and factors that propelled the faltering carrier into Chapter 11, and he adds little to a sorry tale that was widely and competently covered by the media from the time Frank Borman was obliged to sell the deficit-ridden airline to Frank Lorenzo's Texas Air until the last departure gate slammed shut on January 19, 1991. The self- serving subtitle notwithstanding, Robinson concludes that Eastern had not earned the right to survive in commercial aviation's competitive, deregulated skies. He rounds up the usual suspects identified in the press as responsible for Eastern's terminal plight, as well as a couple of apparent villains who largely escaped censure by the fourth estate: labor's Charley Bryan (portrayed as a leader of immense personal appeal to journalists, albeit an almost mindless intransigent at the bargaining table) and Burton R. Lifland of the US Bankruptcy Court (whose judgments cost creditors dearly). Otherwise, Robinson heaps scorn upon avaricious attorneys and their fellow professionals who collected over $100 million for dancing attendance on Eastern's death throes. Noted in passing is Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which boosted fuel prices and kept many travelers close to home. Among the few heroes of the piece is Martin Shugrue (something of a mentor to Robinson), the trustee who made a high-profile, last-ditch effort to keep Eastern flying. An axe-grinding account of a failed enterprise that deserved, if not a better fate, at least a more accomplished Boswell. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-88730-556-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

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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