Much-needed guidance for academics looking to strip their writing of unnecessary words and awkward usage.

Academia Style Book; a Guide for Writers and Editors

A detailed guide to English usage, with a particular focus on discouraging academic writers from unnecessary jargon.

Romero (A Soldier’s Story, 2008) offers a comprehensive reference guide to academic writing. Arranged in alphabetical order, the book provides definitions and explains the subtle differences in meaning that allow authors to write fluently. Take, for example, his explanation of synonyms for animal: “When the word is applied to a human being in other than a scientific context, the emphasis is on depravity or amorality. Creature does not have this range of possibility in meaning; it refers invariably to all living beings other than plants. When a human being is referred to by this word, however, pity or contempt is usually present.” Many of the book’s recommendations are couched in no-nonsense terms: “Avoid ablative as a big word that impresses no one.” Romero is particularly adamant about encouraging writers to cut words that add length without enhancing meaning: “A proposal is a plan put forward for consideration or discussion by others. It is also an offer of marriage. As in both cases, they must be real or solid. To put concrete, (sic) therefore to precede proposals is redundant.” Other entries in the lexicon clarify easily confused terms (“He is an ingenious inventor, but disingenuous in his relations”) and spellings (“ ‘Please pass the saccharin,’ she said with a saccharine smile”). A thorough index guides readers through the book’s many cross-references. Occasionally, a suggestion seems unnecessary for contemporary writers; it is unlikely, for instance, that modern academics need to be told to “CHANGE We have some negro students. TO We have some black students.” Such items may be of little use to institutions in the United States, but on the whole, the book can serve as a valuable addition to a writer’s bookshelf.

Much-needed guidance for academics looking to strip their writing of unnecessary words and awkward usage.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1480098527

Page Count: 376

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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