Informative, though some may wince at Walsingham’s bloody tactics.

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ELIZABETH’S SPYMASTER

FRANCIS WALSINGHAM AND THE SECRET WAR THAT SAVED ENGLAND

An examination of the life and sometimes gruesome career of the Protestant official who crushed Catholic resistance in 16th-century England.

Hutchinson (The Last Days of Henry VIII, 2005) delves deep into history to explore the life of Francis Walsingham (1532–90), a seminal yet little known figure whose influence still resonates today. The author’s broad knowledge of the Elizabethan era helps elucidate the key issues in which his subject was embroiled. Perhaps of even greater importance, Hutchinson unveils the methodology Walsingham employed to garner crucial intelligence for his queen after he took over her secret intelligence service from Sir William Cecil. Elizabeth called Walsingham “a rank Puritan,” but both were fervent Protestants, and one of the spymaster’s first tasks was to quash the threat from “that devilish woman,” Catholic Mary Queen of Scots. Walsingham stopped at nothing, even forging correspondence to discredit Mary. As Hutchinson details these events and the growing threat from Catholic Spain, he notes parallels between his subject’s techniques and modern day intelligence operations. Walsingham would have had no problem, the author avers, with the draconian measures taken by many Western nations in recent years to combat terrorism. Indeed, ‘human rights’ was an unknown concept in an age when suspects were routinely tortured to extract information. Hutchinson painstakingly scrutinizes the broad range of grisly devices employed in these activities and proffers information on such accomplices as chief torturer Richard Topcliffe, “rackmaster” Thomas Norton and playwright Christopher Marlowe, who became part of the spy ring Walsingham formed.

Informative, though some may wince at Walsingham’s bloody tactics.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-36822-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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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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