A rigorously researched and thoughtful analysis of a controversial issue.




A journalist and former gun shop owner re-evaluates the Sandy Hook massacre and the retailer who sold the weapons used.

Between 2010 and 2011, Nancy Lanza purchased two guns—a Sig 226 pistol and a Bushmaster assault rifle—from Riverview Sales, a gun shop owned by David Laguercia. Shortly after, her son, Adam Lanza, used those weapons to murder his mother and more than two dozen others before taking his own life. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was able to quickly trace the Sig 226 back to Riverview Sales, which became the subject of an intense federal investigation, often conducted very publicly through the media. Weisser (The Myth of the Armed Citizen, 2015, etc.) focuses on Laguercia’s role in the tragedy and argues that not only was he scapegoated by federal authorities, but he was also intentionally vilified in the press. Despite the brevity of the book, the author covers a wide range of issues: the link between mental health and gun violence, the federal regulation of weapons sales, and the particular danger posed by assault rifles like the one used in the Sandy Hook incident. But the crux of the tale is Laguercia’s plight. According to Weisser, despite the fact the sale of the guns used at Sandy Hook was entirely compliant with existing law, the federal authorities still persecuted Laguercia and actively created the impression—with the media playing the role of enthusiastic accomplice—that he was an irresponsible dealer dangerously dismissive of the rules. As a former gun shop owner, Weisser is expertly knowledgeable not only about firearms, but also the regulatory demands made upon dealers by the government. He makes a compelling case that the bureaucratic requests regarding compliance that Laguercia faced were considerable and that, in general, he was scrupulous in satisfying them. The author also makes a persuasive argument that suggests the federal government—potentially including public figures as high on the official food chain as then-Attorney General Eric Holder—knowingly disseminated false information regarding Laguercia’s culpability for Adam Lanza’s murderous rampage. Of course, the full extent of the government’s intentions can’t be adequately assessed on the basis of information publicly accessible, and Weisser wisely acknowledges this limitation, laying out the evidence for conspiracy without precipitously drawing any dogmatic conclusions. The most impressive feature of the author’s investigative study, though, is its analysis of the way the government naturally responds to a crisis. The absence of any confident interpretation of what caused the horror at Sandy Hook—and, as a consequence, a deficit of reasonable theories about future prevention—produces a panicked rush to devise quick if ineffective legislative strategies: “We don’t know the answers to these questions, which is why events like Sandy Hook fill us with fear and dread. And because we are filled with fear, well-meaning individuals in places of public responsibility feel it is necessary to help us believe that something can and will be done.” Weisser’s account is brimming with common sense and a spirit of philosophical restraint and is a valuable contribution to the study of gun violence in America.

A rigorously researched and thoughtful analysis of a controversial issue.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-94502-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Tee Tee Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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