A detailed analysis of U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding abortion.

Debut author Carmichael (My Absolutely Insane Attempt to Rank All Cinema, 2010), a former attorney, brings his legal background to this thorough examination of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and other noteworthy Supreme Court decisions that have shaped abortion law in America. He provides a close reading of the justices’ legal reasoning in each decision and also analyzes media coverage, particularly regarding criminal prosecutions of abortion providers and mothers of abandoned fetuses. The book argues that the court has made substantial logical and legal mistakes in its decisions, resulting in an incoherent and potentially dangerous set of laws and regulations. Carmichael’s substantial research is evident in his copious footnotes, and his book pursues complex legal and ethical discussions of life, personhood, and rights. But although it does provide some criticism of the anti-abortion movement’s arguments and tactics, it doesn’t present its own conclusion—that the court erred in asserting a legal right to abortion—in a way that is likely to sway pro–abortion-rights readers. The prose often veers into hyperbole (“Roe has to qualify as the worst centralized planning since Stalin’s five-year-plan”) or sacrifices accuracy to argument (“Of course, all our abortion rules are actually mandated by federal judges, not by our elected representatives”). The book’s understanding of feminist thought can be grating, as well (“Feminism shot at patriarchy and killed our fathers”). However, readers who choose to engage with the book’s arguments will find them easy to follow, even if it isn’t entirely persuasive in its approach. A thoroughly researched but uneven critique of abortion policy.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-692-27281-7

Page Count: 366

Publisher: Con Law Books

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2017

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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

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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

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