TO MAKE A NATION

REDISCOVERY OF AMERICAN FEDERALISM

Harvard government professor Beer traces the evolution of American federalism and, with scholary zeal, reilluminates the eternal state-vs.-central-government debate. The Constitution, according to Beer, ``displays much blank space,'' and, to understand it, it's necessary to look at the tradition behind it. Beer has a threefold aim here: to trace the intellectual evolution that sought to sweep away the ``dark ribaldry of hereditary, indefeasible right,'' in John Adams's phrase; to look at American federalism in light of the ideas behind the failed English Commonwealth of the 17th century; and to examine federalist ideas in terms of the challenges to them over the past two centuries. Beer offers lengthy discussions of the usual suspects, from Madison, whose Federalist Papers are a cohesive statement of the philosophy he favored, to Montesquieu, who felt that popular government was unworkable in a diverse and fragmented country. But the author also enlists Milton, whose Areopagitica championed free speech and who envisioned a government by discussion rather than by fiat, and little-known writers such as James Harrington and James Wilson. The author is an expert on English politics, and his sections on such thinkers as Harrington, whose vision of federalism was a precursor to the American version in that he argued that government derives authority from the will of the people, are especially good. And Beer's discussion of the debate over federalism in this country is a valuable summation of a seemingly almost medieval doctrinal wrangle. Beer's fresh approach sometimes grades into obscurity, but, still, this is an erudite and forceful work, packed with the scholarship of a lifetime.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-674-60212-9

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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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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