Supporting both points of view with well-chosen anecdotes, a capable contribution to Ranger history. And though Utley breaks...

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LONE STAR JUSTICE

THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE TEXAS RANGERS

A rip-snortin’, six-guns-blazin’ saga of good guys and bad guys who were sometimes one and the same.

By taking on the Texas Rangers, Utley (The Lance and the Shield, 1993, etc.), an accomplished and well-regarded historian of the American West, risks treading on ground that is both hallowed and thoroughly documented. He skirts those issues by turning in a balanced history of the Rangers’ first hundred years, a period that covers the group’s transformation from a loosely organized band of citizen soldiers to a professional law-enforcement unit. Contemporary scholarship is divided on that era—some modern writers view the Rangers as heroic defenders of innocent pioneers against marauding Indians and Mexican banditos, but more are of the opinion that the Rangers were little better than a mounted adjunct of the KKK, bent on racist conquest and extermination. Both sides have their points, Utley admits: the history of the Rangers is full of incidents that show a contempt on the part of Anglo Texans for those they considered to be racially and culturally inferior—that is, anyone who was not an Anglo Texan. But it is also marked by episodes of uncommon valor wherein outnumbered and outgunned squads of lawmen subdued evildoers of all varieties. At their best, Utley writes, the Rangers were “daring, intrepid, well-trained men armed with repeating weapons [who] functioned as a highly disciplined team under an outstanding leader,” and the names of lawmen such as John Coffee Hays and Sul Ross continue to command respect among Texans who know their history.

Supporting both points of view with well-chosen anecdotes, a capable contribution to Ranger history. And though Utley breaks little new ground, he offers an accessible survey of some interesting—and bloody—times.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-19-512742-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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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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