A thorough, impressive tour of imperial London a century ago and of the dissenting voices that finally helped the sun set on this bastion of Eurocentrism. History professor Schneer (Georgia Institute of Technology) lets readers view the grimy streets, polished offices, and dockside warehouses of old London, as well as the hearts and minds of its elitist, racist denizens. History’s greatest empire, controlling 400 million people, was governed from a metropolis of 6 million, with a vast port and financial center. Yet while the horns of African rhinos and skins of Canadian seals piled up alongside mineral and material wealth taken in “tribute” from the West Indies, South Africa, Australia, India, etc., Schneer produces those who defied the “continual barrage of imperialist propaganda.” Beginning with half a million Irish and swelled by eastern and central Europeans, Jews, and Asians, there were sufficient foreigners and people of color to bristle at the exotic, caged “darkie” and animal spectacles and to join liberals, unionists, and early feminists who fought the many injustices of Britannia. Schneer documents the battles of several individuals who saw beyond the profits of near-slave labor on Chinese railroads, Latin American sugarcane fields, African mines, Borneo rubber plantations, and Ceylonese tea farms. Just as Ben Tillet’s Stevedores Union took on London shipping, Lord George Hamilton “did not believe that Indians should serve as cannon fodder” as conflicts beside the Boer War flared. A cultural hero and pioneer of anthropological relativism was Mary Kingsley, who explored deepest Africa and shockingly concluded that blacks are different, not inferior. Schneer’s masterful work reminds us how far we—ve come in our ongoing Copernican revolution to prove that the globe doesn—t revolve around white English-speaking men. (40 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-300-07625-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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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