We can now say unequivocally that the warmest period of the present 'interglacial' is over. . . from here on we can expect a cooling off until within about 10,000 years the world will be in the grip of another full ice age." That firm note of conviction runs through Gribbin's cogent summary of the forces shaping earth's climate, and distinguishes it from the many "iffy" conjectures abounding. The arguments he summons are based both on old theories (Milankovich's ice age model) and on very recent data obtained from space probes, sedimentary analysis, statistical studies, and increasingly sensitive computer models. Excitingly, a new central dogma is emerging—that of a changing sun. It appears that the. sun's nuclear furnace may have "gone off the boil" so that the center is 10% cooler than it was, say, 10 million years ago. That, in combination with notable surface fluctuations—sunspot cycles, solar flares, "gusts" of solar wind—would go far to account for the ups and downs of earth's weather. In turn, periodic changes in the shape of earth's orbit, the angle of its tilt, and its constant "wobble" assure that the amount of heat reaching the surface will vary over latitude, season, and century. Thus it is an unstable sun interacting with an unstable earth (and both interacting with the movements of the other parts of the solar system) which ultimately shapes our weather. Not that man is not a factor. Gribbin, more conjectural here, feels that industrial pollution—dust, heat, the greenhouse effect, aerosols—may contribute a warming effect in the years ahead. He is also certain that political solutions must be sought to avoid crop shortages and famine. Subtle and sophisticated in flavor, Gribbin's account is to be commended not only for his emphasis on the astrophysics of climate (his field), but for his understanding of present political realities.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0684158078

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1979

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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.


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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