Nicely told, but lacking depth and highly slanted.

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BLOODY MARY’S MARTYRS

THE STORY OF ENGLAND’S TERROR

Another on the religious persecutions promulgated by the much-unloved Tudor monarch, this time presented in a lively if highly partisan style reminiscent of John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

England during the 16th century was not a good place for anyone with strong convictions. The Reformation began there in 1533 when Parliament decreed that Henry VIII and his successors, rather than the Pope, were to be considered supreme head of the Church in England—thereby guaranteeing that all religious disputes were henceforth to be treated as affairs of state and judged according to the sovereign’s good pleasure. The problem was that the sovereigns couldn’t agree among themselves. Henry VIII suppressed the monasteries (and confiscated their vast resources) but made very few changes in the daily practice of religion. The boy-king Edward VI was a fierce Protestant, Mary I a devout Catholic, and Elizabeth I a pragmatist who wanted to straddle the fence. With each new coronation, the entire populace had to re-conform itself to a new religious dispensation, and those who refused were considered traitors to the crown and dealt with accordingly. Although, in reality, Mary’s reign was no bloodier than her younger sister Elizabeth’s, it accomplished its atrocities in a far shorter span of time, sending some 300 Protestants to the stake in just five years. Ridley (Mussolini, 1998, etc.) gives a good narrative account of many of these victims, who came from every class of English society and usually met their fates with a courage that is hard for modern readers to credit. The gruesome details of death by burning (usually involving a progressive loss of limbs and extremities) are provided with relish, and the background history (e.g., Mary’s disastrous attempt to forge an alliance with Spain by marrying Philip II) is offered as a rough but helpful sketch. The work as a whole, however, is not helped by the author’s apparent acceptance of some of the hoariest myths (e.g., the wholesale corruption of the religious orders, the selling of indulgences) of Whig history.

Nicely told, but lacking depth and highly slanted.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7867-0854-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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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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