Feinman’s provocative essay provides, among other things, an interesting take on the spilled-coffee-at-McDonald’s case.

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UN-MAKING LAW

THE CONSERVATIVE CAMPAIGN TO ROLL BACK THE COMMON LAW

A powerful right-wing conspiracy is gunning for the law—and seeking to discard a hundred and more years of constitutional precedent.

So argues contract-law specialist Feinman (Distinguished Professor of Law/Rutgers Univ.; Law 101, not reviewed) in this dissection of the “comprehensive and coordinated campaign to reshape the common law” being mounted by a neoconservative cabal of industrialists, land developers, bankers, politicians, insurance companies, and even some academics, all backed by “a network of trade groups, think tanks, right-wing foundations, membership organizations, lobbyists, and litigation centers.” Their goal, by Feinman’s account, is to restore the classical legal theory of the Gilded Age, when robber barons ruled the roost and working people were afforded few protections by the law. The social Darwinism implicit in that theory was pretty well discarded a century ago, writes Feinman, but it’s now back, manifested in arguments that hold that government is the problem and not the solution, and that market values are the sole measure of social good. Such arguments, advanced with increasing force in just the last few years, have been raised against a legal system supposedly gone mad, against the bogeyman of fat-cat trial lawyers out to enrich themselves at the expense of their poor clients. In fact, Feinman holds, this characterization is grossly exaggerated if not downright false. Any attempt to limit awards for damages will result in injustice: “Because they take cases on a contingent fee basis and advance the costs of litigation, victims’ lawyers will only take cases where the probable recovery is much greater than the expense of investigating and pursuing the case.” Moreover, he adds, the present tort system provides a needed check: manufacturers and providers take greater pains to issue safe products and services when the threat of liability hangs over them, and “if other forms of government protection are decreasing, tort law as a regulator of safety becomes more, not less, important.”

Feinman’s provocative essay provides, among other things, an interesting take on the spilled-coffee-at-McDonald’s case.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8070-4426-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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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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