Axis of Hope


An original appraisal of a path to participatory democracy for Iran, an opportunity created by a time of political crisis and upheaval.
An academic trained as both an engineer and a political scientist, Azari’s first effort is an auspicious one, situating the tumult Iran currently experiences within a deeply informative historical context. His analysis hinges on two parallel strains of examination: an account of Iran’s evolution into a tyranny over time and the birth of the modern state. On the one hand, he argues that, contrary to conventional opinion, Iran is not culturally incapable of prospering as a modern nation and has, at various times in its long history, enjoyed extended periods of tolerance, diversity and economic success, as well as philosophical and artistic dynamism. In fact, for Iran, the “period from 850 CE to 1050 CE represents a truly amazing mixture of religious coexistence and community self-rule.” On the other hand, Azari is also critical of the modern state’s inherent deficiencies, using as an example the United States, doomed in ways the framers of the Constitution could not foresee to engender socioeconomic inequality and concentrate political power in the hands of a small, self-serving elite. In brief, the designers of American democracy failed to anticipate the effects of “industrialization, the concentration of capital, changing conceptions of commerce, and the new market system.” What Azari recommends for Iran, and by extension for all Middle Eastern and North African countries, is a more participatory form of democracy that eschews bureaucratic centralization in favor of local governance and small-scale republicanism. His philosophical command of both interlocking subjects is expert, allowing him to discuss Montesquieu and John Locke with as much facility as Al-Farabi and Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali. The author’s ultimate recommendation—that the national wealth Iran has accrued be managed by a National Trust Fund Branch, which would be endowed with vast and somewhat ill-defined powers—seems to belie his call for more local versus federal governance. However, the book remains a timely, serious and original contribution to one of the most pressing political debates of our time.

A thought-provoking account of Iran’s potential to overcome its current authoritarianism and achieve pluralistic democracy.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615964942

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Lumma Press

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2014

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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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