An intriguing examination of the circumstances surrounding the 1948 murder in Israel of UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte. Marton (The Polk Conspiracy, 1990, etc.) interweaves two stories as she traces the paths that led to the killing of Swedish nobleman and diplomat Bernadotte on September 17, 1948. The first story is about Bernadotte himself, who, Marton contends, was a well-meaning amateur in over his head. He had been sent by the UN to end the war that began when Arab armies invaded the newly declared state of Israel. Bernadotte's diplomatic fumbles, such as his proposal to turn Jerusalem over to Jordan, she writes, were misperceived as a mortal threat by Israelis, especially by the militant Stern Gang. The second story is about the Stern Gang, whose members, according to Marton, were driven by an understandable but misguided post-Holocaust paranoia; the resulting kill-or-be-killed attitude blinded them to the ineffectuality of Bernadotte and the UN itself. Marton has done a remarkable job of reconstructing the events leading up to this largely forgotten incident, which seriously threatened Israel's standing among its supporters. If Marton falters slightly, it is in her attempt to draw larger cautionary tales from the assassination. One has to do with the UN's continued inability to end conflicts because it lacks the will to apply meaningful force. The other involves Yitzhak Shamir, the leader of the Stern Gang and eventually Israel's prime minister. Marton contends that the mentality that justified the Stern Gang's terrorism remains a significant factor in Israeli society. She may be right on both counts. But these are highly complex issues, and her generalizations remain superficial in the absence of far more analysis and corroboration. Still, a rare glimpse behind the curtains of a terrorist act, instructive both for the light it sheds on a 46-year-old assassination and for the issues it raises relevant to today.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-42083-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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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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