A DREAM DEFERRED

AMERICA'S DISCONTENT AND THE SEARCH FOR A NEW DEMOCRATIC IDEAL

An insightful, timely examination of the fragility of America's commitment to democracy, by cultural analyst Slater (How I Saved the World, 1985, etc.). In many ways an expansion of his classic The Pursuit of Loneliness (1970), this is powerful and provocative on its own terms. Starting with the optimistic assertion that authoritarianism is finally relinquishing its five-thousand-year choke-hold on social structures worldwide, Slater argues that the democratic spirit gaining ground elsewhere is still vigorously resisted here at home. Through systematic oppression, the encouragement of public apathy and submissiveness, the deflection of public resentment, and especially the withholding of critical information, America's founding ideals have been subverted, with the erosion clearly accelerated in the last decade, to the point where militarism and macho sensibilities have taken over in shaping the American presence in the world. Democracy is the wave of the future for Slater, however, so to him the prevailing ``might makes right'' sensibility in post-WW II US foreign policy, a perfect expression of the authoritarian agenda, can be viewed as a read-guard action sure to fail when the American people awaken (or are awakened) to their civic responsibilities. Heavily indebted to the pioneering work of Mary Parker Follett in defining modern democracy, an impressive array of historical, sociological, and statistical arguments are deployed to convey the serious nature of the dilemma our culture faces, but course- corrections are provided so that the prognosis is distinctly upbeat. Persuasive, comprehensive, and precious at this historical moment.

Pub Date: May 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-8070-4304-4

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1991

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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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

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

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