RN

THE MEMOIRS OF RICHARD NIXON

            “I intended to play the role of the President right to the hilt and right to the end.”  Thus RN, whose words read less like memos here than they did in the newspaper excerpts and more like the last will and testament of a fighter who never willingly gave ground.  Had he been urged to resign, he avers, he would have rebelled; and his review of the two occasions – the “secret fund” crisis, the second v.p. nomination – when he felt himself crowded and didn’t cave in, back up his claim.  “And tell them I know something about politics too!”  he quotes himself as shouting over the phone, in the first instance, to a wheedling, dissembling Tom Dewey.  He was a mere freshman senator then, built up by the Hiss case, but always had ideas of his own.  Not public affairs:  He had nothing against communism, he says, until Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech.  So it’s when he’s talking politics that his celebrated caginess becomes an asset and his acumen is in evidence; and only then, too, is he interesting about people.  Poor Rose Mary Woods, for instance, turns up unheralded, whereas Bob Haldeman scores for spotting the potential of campaigning-by-TV, not whistle-stop train.  (Apropos of the pardon request, Nixon notes wryly that “Haldeman, ever the efficient Chief of Staff, had included a specially typed page to insert in my resignation speech.”)  By the same token, while the extensive travels are dull, dull, dull, the final days are distinctly not:  Intent on being a leader from the time when, four years out of law school, he was president of every organization in sight, he is fully aware of what’s slipping away.  He records the silence – instead of the usual applause – that greeted his entrance to the last Cabinet meeting, the “sober, noncommittal” faces as he thanks his aides for their support; and like a prospective suicide, he imagines the effect his farewell cables will have on Chou and Chairman Mao, “in Cairo and Tel Aviv, in Damascus and Amman” – where, “eight weeks ago, I had been accorded unprecedented acclaim.”  How the mightiest fell:  it may not be worth a thousand pages, but they do carry weight.

Pub Date: June 5, 1978

ISBN: 0448143747

Page Count: 1192

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1978

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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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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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