A much-needed look at the contras, seen from within by Dillon, anchor of the Miami Herald's Pulitzer-winning Iran-contra team. Dillon covers the years 1983-91, centering his report on the experience of Luis Fley, a young Nicaraguan combat officer of distinction (``as close to the freedom fighter of American government rhetoric as you could find'') who took ``a U.S. financed rearguard post that put him in charge of investigating crimes committed by contra fighters.'' Following up on a torture-death, Fley learns of an ambiguous figure named Isaac Blake, meets with contra leader Enrique Bermudez, discovers the extent of the abuse, foils a cover-up, and puts the ``CIA-backed contra intelligence chief [Blake] before a tribunal of young commanders on charges of torture and murder.'' Working from a variety of sources including ex-CIA men, Dillon lays out the scale of American operations in Nicaragua (and Honduras and El Salvador) as they ``utterly transformed every aspect of the rebel force, creating an army that rivalled the armed forces of Honduras in size...with sophisticated weaponry no...armies in South America possessed.'' Supplies are ferried in first by jeep, then by rented Hueys and other airlifts; roads for 18-wheelers are built and truck-fleets are rented, an airport is acquired. But it is no longer an indigenous revolt; Bermudez and all the rebel leaders, dependent on the CIA, lose credibility because ``behind every contra there's an American...'' At the end, Fley returns home to a life of near-poverty, only to see old contra commanders cutting deals and moving into the new Chamorro regime. A fascinating tale—laced with corruption and brutality and full of sharp, revealing facts—that's heavy on the dialogue but very readable.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-8050-1475-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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

Did you like this book?

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet