A humbling reminder of the dog’s remarkable spirit and intelligence in the face, even, of human cruelty.

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A DOG’S HISTORY OF AMERICA

HOW OUR BEST FRIEND EXPLORED, CONQUERED, AND SETTLED A CONTINENT

A consummate and loving tribute to canines as well as a comprehensive history, seamlessly blending facts, anecdotes, and ideas.

Though rigorously unsentimental, Derr (Dog’s Best Friend, 1997, etc.) infuses his text with loving concern and quiet outrage at how dogs were, and still are, treated. Since the first dogs crossed the Bering Strait with their human companions between 35,000 and 12,000 years ago, dogs have participated in the settlement of the continent. They helped hunt, were a food source (even Lewis and Clark ate dogs), guarded settlements, and did humans’ dirty work. The Spanish trained dogs to kill the enemy in battle, slave-owners used them to hunt runaway slaves, and in pre-industrial times dogs were beasts of burden who pulled heavy carts and worked tread mills. The Enlightenment changed attitudes—dogs began to be valued for their character, loyalty, and company—but abuses continued, ameliorated somewhat by the activism of newly established humane societies. In the wake of Darwinism and a growing social obsession with pure blood, pedigree dogs were declared superior, despite mongrels’ proven record of accomplishment. Derr includes stories of heroic dogs like Satan, who in WWI dodged bullets to take a message that saved a garrison under fire; the Alaskan sled team whose 1920s “serum run” saved a town from diphtheria; and dogs in the Pacific who detected hidden Japanese snipers in WWII. Though physical cruelty to dogs is less socially acceptable today, Derr warns that they still endure abusive treatment. He also deplores the health consequences of inbreeding, the lack of space in cities where dogs can run, and the inept training of working dogs.

A humbling reminder of the dog’s remarkable spirit and intelligence in the face, even, of human cruelty.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-86547-631-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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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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