A thorough, if extreme, proposal for making African-Americans self-reliant.

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The Black Ten Commandments

NATIONAL WARNING ORDER

A debut political book proposes new commandments for black America.

In response to Ossie Davis’ 1965 call for a “Black ten commandments,” Caligula has composed a regimen of activities he thinks will “provide a new standard of leadership—one that is not autocratic, doesn’t thrive on instability, operates in a more transparent manner, and disseminates a plan for the Black community.” Much of the book (the first 400 pages) is spent attempting to establish the economic, political, psychological, and spiritual context for black America. The commandments, when they finally appear, are presented as solutions to the myriad problems faced by African-Americans, explained both in their philosophical dimension and practical application. The concerns of the commandments, which retain a basis in Scripture, include setting proper priorities, rejecting white paternalism, refocusing on the nuclear family, reinvigorating the black church, and other goals that the author sees as strengthening the position of the larger African-American community. A mix of conservative faith-and-family initiatives combined with political agitation in the courts and support for black businesses, Caligula’s platform is essentially a rebranding of long-promoted improvement strategies articulated in a franker and more forceful tone. An Army veteran, Caligula uses U.S. military principles, including the Military Problem Solving Process, as a basis for both community- and self-improvement. He writes with clarity and confidence, though his idiosyncrasies are numerous and frequently distracting. (He spends a surprising amount of time discussing comparative mythology, for example, and insists on always spelling African as “AfriCAN.”) Though many of his complaints and criticisms about the relationship between white and black America are valid, the author holds some controversial opinions in regards to both mainstream Christianity (which he calls “Fascianity...biblical-based fascism akin to Nazism”) and the American political system (“Liberal foxes and conservative wolves are two sides of the same coin”). He is no fan of President Barack Obama (whom he calls a “selfish trickster”), and has little patience for what he terms “Black victim ‘excuse-aholics.’ ” It’s a tough love approach to say the least, one that will likely prove too tough for many readers.

A thorough, if extreme, proposal for making African-Americans self-reliant.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4787-2705-7

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

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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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