A memoir of the late British Fascist leader by his novelist son Nicholas Mosley (Judith, 1990, Serpent, 1989, etc.) may seem problematic, but as a biography of a controversial father by a loving and cleareyed son it is surprisingly charming. The Mosleys, it seems, were a very rum lot. Both Sir Oswald's father and grandfather lived apart from their wives, supposedly, in the case of his father, because of the man's insatiable and promiscuous sexual habits. Though Sir Oswald's own marriage to the daughter of Lord Curzon, the British foreign secretary, seems to have been a loving one, it was characterized by constant infidelities; Sir Oswald seems to have made love not only to most of his wife's friends but to her sister and her stepmother as well. He entered Parliament as a Conservative at age 22, became an Independent, then a Labor candidate, and was appointed to Ramsay MacDonald's cabinet in his 30's. He was regarded as one of the finest orators in the House of Commons, and as a possible future prime minister. But this was during the Depression, and Sir Oswald, to the left of the Labor Party, seems to have been appalled at the failure of Labor to honor its promises. It was at this point that he—perhaps influenced by his extraordinary impact on crowds and by the burgeoning of Fascism in Europe—seems to have gone wrong, and to have lacked the ordinary prudence to correct his mistake. The result was a fiasco, a dwindling following, and three years of imprisonment without trial at the start of WW II, followed by two years under house arrest. This is the inheritance with which the son seeks to grapple, and it is a tribute to his honesty and insight—as well as to the rakish recklessness and demonic ability of his subject—that it's hard to resist a measure of sympathy for one who has hitherto been regarded as beyond the pale.

Pub Date: June 3, 1991

ISBN: 0-916583-75-9

Page Count: 585

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet