CLEARING THE GROUND by Sydney J. Harris

CLEARING THE GROUND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Yet another collection (the eighth) of Harris' columns from the Chicago Sun-Times--reasonable, gracefully written, and, unfortunately, sometimes just a bit predictable in their ""liberal"" orientation. Harris, a 40-year journalism veteran whose writings have been praised by the likes of Saul Bellow, Studs Terkel and Jacques Barzun, is no controversialist. He is not interested, he says, in persuasion but in opening the minds of his readers. As a result, his mini-essays, particularly when read in collected form, take on a sameness that, while reassuring, is also a trifle flat. Harris' sympathies are all of a liberal stance. He is against capital punishment and anti-gay governmental security regulations. He is for the establishment of a world court in which ""terrorists"" could air their grievances. He deplores the senseless killing of animals during the so-called ""hunting season."" He sees marriage as ""a learning process"" and the family as ""a training camp."" He recommends reading the texts of Shakespeare's plays before attending a performance and considers TV ""an opium of the people."" Turning page after page of these less than startling ""mind-openers,' the reader begins to feel as if he's trapped in the company of a benign uncle who rambles on and on, dispensing opinions that become more and more jejune. Readers who wish to find their opinions reinforced in print may derive some pleasure from this collection. Those who are seeking stimulating and provocative views of the world around them, however, may very well discover that ""the ground"" being cleared here is pretty barren turf.

Pub Date: Nov. 28th, 1986
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin