STARS AND SWASTIKAS

THE BOY WHO WORE TWO UNIFORMS

Unsophisticated yet engrossing memoir about a remarkable childhood and adolescence. Schroder's German parents came to the US to escape the chaos of post-WW I Germany, but while their son grew up American, the family remained very German, buying him German toy soldiers to play with and returning to the homeland for vacations. When his father found employment in Hitler's reviving Germany, Schroder returned and joined the Hitler Youth. At 15, he became one of Hitler's teenage soldiers, and his description of these young combatants meeting Allied paratroopers in a small engagement at the end of the war reveals how Hitler subverted youth's spirit of play and sport: The teenagers proceeded innocently through the battle, displaying no normal adult fear or even caution, until their surrender. Taken prisoner, the author eventually faced yet another incredible adjustment—released from POW camp, he was ordered to report for induction into the US Army (where he ate his first full meal in months). Through all this, Schroder bobs like an unsinkable cork, sane, reasonable, and cooperative, a true survivor—and, like any true survivor, reveals himself to be essentially apolitical, never scrutinizing his shifting loyalties, at least not here. Lack of deep emotion makes this a curious memoir, but the splitting of Schroder's family by the division of Germany, and his recurrent dreams of his father (whom he loves too much to question) give some dimension at the end. Solid, fact-oriented, and conventional, Schroder is by no means a born writer, but those interested in the period will find his reminiscences worthwhile.

Pub Date: July 15, 1992

ISBN: 0-208-02322-4

Page Count: 202

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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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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