One does not like to apply the phrase too often in a book review, but here is a volume that should be required reading for...

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THE COMING PLAGUE

NEWLY EMERGING DISEASES IN A WORLD OUT OF BALANCE

Garrett, Newsday and former National Public Radio reporter, has written an excellent encyclopedic history—and jeremiad—of man versus microbe in the last decades of the century.

"California School Becomes Notorious for Epidemic of TB.'' "In a Panic, Rwandans Die in Stampede.'' No book about to be launched in 1994 could ask for better confirmation of its somber thesis than the front-page headlines in a recent edition of the New York Times. Only a few years ago science was celebrating an end to plagues and an extended life span, but now it appears that we are losing the battle against infectious illness. Microbes mutate as fast as companies synthesize new drugs to combat them. Jet travel, the sexual revolution, and overpopulation are just a few of the whole-earth changes that favor the survival of old and new bugs. In chapter by chilling chapter, Garrett recounts the stories of deaths from Machupo, Lassa, and Ebola diseases—viral infections decimating small villages in South America and Africa. In the best tradition of Berton Rouech, each account is a dramatic narrative with heroes and heroines: the doctors and epidemiologists who round up the usual suspects (rats, mice, bugs) to come up with answers. Modernity brings ironic twists—reused syringes, recycled air conditioning—to amplify infection. But the ultimate compounding factor is a "Thirdworldization,'' an ugly coinage to describe an ugly situation in which the inhabitants of poor nations are malnourished, displaced, terrorized, demoralized, e.g., Rwanda. Garrett chronicles AIDS, the spread of antibiotic-resistant TB and malaria, Legionnaire's disease, last year's re-emergence of Hanta viruses among the Navajo, along with chapters on microbial genetics and resistance. Prejudice and politics are given their due from clearly liberal Garrett, and a glimmer of a solution comes in the form of eternal vigilance and surveillance.

One does not like to apply the phrase too often in a book review, but here is a volume that should be required reading for policy makers and health professionals.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-374-12646-1

Page Count: 784

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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