Ostler’s erudition may occasionally lead readers into impenetrable thickets of explication, but his enthusiasm for the...

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A BIOGRAPHY OF LATIN

The cultural, religious and scholastic history of the Latin language—2,500 years of a paradise won and lost.

Polyglot Ostler—he possesses a working knowledge of 26 languages and holds degrees from Oxford in Greek, Latin, philosophy and economics, as well as a doctorate in linguistics from MIT, where he studied with Noam Chomsky—again demonstrates his considerable professorial chops, which readers first encountered in Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World (2005). The depth of the scholarship here is astonishing. He fleshes out his thesis—the history of Latin is the history of Western Europe and, indeed, of the New World—with thick strands from the histories of linguistics, warfare, religion, politics, empire, oppression and more. He describes the birth of Latin in Latium, a region in west-central Italy, its translocation to Rome and its role in the growth of the Empire (Latin became the common language of politics, the military and commerce). He offers glimpses of the lives and creations of Virgil, Horace and Sappho, and credits Cicero for giving Latin “its own corpus of philosophical writings.” Moving to the Christian era, he chronicles the adoption of the language by the early church, then examines how the German invasions affected both the Empire and its language—Latin began its metamorphosis into the Romance languages. On he progresses to the importance of Latin in medieval universities, the difficulties of translating Greek and Arabic texts into Latin, the rise of the printing press and the subsequent spread of vernacular languages. And then the long decline. Other languages—English among them—began to gain prominence as they developed formal grammars and produced literary geniuses (think Chaucer), and Latin became a more elite language, known and used principally by highly educated men. Latin retained a weakening grip on the church, until Vatican II, as well as a handful of other institutions, but its study today is limited. Still, doughty Latin-literates can purchase and peruse Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis.

Ostler’s erudition may occasionally lead readers into impenetrable thickets of explication, but his enthusiasm for the subject is infectious.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8027-1515-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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