ARMY SURVEILLANCE IN AMERICA, 1775-1980

A dense and well-detailed history of army surveillance that throws light on a shadowed aspect of our past. Jensen (History/New Mexico State Univ.) focuses on the interplay between the shifting tides of American political ideology and the Constitution itself, which dictates a ``minimal internal security apparatus.'' The author documents incidents of the US military using spies and ad hoc security forces from the Benedict Arnold case through the Civil War, when Allan Pinkerton was hired to form a secret service to keep watch on ``disloyal Americans.'' Jensen notes, however, that prior to the 1920's, ``no systematic plan existed to guide the army's response in case of a domestic rebellion.'' Then, after WW I, a plan was formulated by the War Department to transform ``a system to protect the government from enemy agents [into] a vast surveillance system to watch civilians who violated no law but who objected to wartime policies or to the war itself.'' Labor struggles and fear of Bolshevism led to the government spying on a ``vast number of workers,'' including members of the International Workers of the World, a precedent that constituted the army's ``first extensive internal security experience with American civilians.'' Jensen goes on to examine ``War Plans White,'' the military's ``contingency plans for a war at home''; FDR's concern ``about Russian attempts to influence domestic affairs''; the later fears of an alliance between religious pacifists and American Communists; and, during the Vietnam era, the ``massive army surveillance of dissenters.'' Jensen's contention that government spying has always been ``curtailed by public outcry'' seems a bit optimistic, and it is arguable that our ``internal security policy'' has evolved ``to become one that maintained restraint.'' Still, the author capably reveals the conflict between politics, security, and policy.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 1991

ISBN: 0-300-04668-5

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1991

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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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