DUNGEON, FIRE AND SWORD

THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR IN THE CRUSADES

The author of Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry (1989)—which provocatively argued that the Freemasons are a descendant order of the medieval Knights Templar—now concentrates, in a highly detailed but far less captivating addendum, on the Knights' role in the Crusades. Robinson's fascination with the military monastic order organized by a band of knights in the aftermath of the First Crusade and originally dedicated to the protection of pilgrims in the Holy Land continues. Here, he sets out to recount the Knights' role as trained warriors and, eventually, as international bankers during the nearly 200 years from Pope Urban II's call for the First Crusade in 1095 through the last Crusaders' abandonment of the Holy Land in 1291. Unfortunately, in this version the fascination of the Templar tradition (including the order's secret initiation rites, its rules of chastity and individual poverty, its provision against bathing, and its recruitment from the ranks of murderers, exiles, and excommunicated Catholics) is submerged beneath deadly masses of historic detail concerning the ever-changing political alliances, royal successions, and battle plans that comprised the Christian invasions of the Holy Land. Isolated incidents featuring such swashbucklers as Richard the Lion-Hearted, Frederick Barbarossa, and the Syrian Assassins sparkle occasionally against the otherwise monotonous accounts of skirmishes against the Muslims, disputes among Christian noblemen, and struggles for the crown of Jerusalem- -but the Knights themselves are often lost in the background of these events, and only regain their undeniable mystique when Pope Clement V disbands the order at the behest of France's avaricious King Philip IV, and the Knights are reduced to a fugitive, underground existence whose traditions may continue in some form to this day. Lacking the power and focus of Robinson's earlier work, this serves as little more than reference material for die-hard Crusade fans. (Maps.)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 1992

ISBN: 0-87131-657-9

Page Count: 512

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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