An intelligent study of governmental overreach hampered by legal minutiae.




In this book, a writer recounts a farmer’s 15-month legal battle with the federal government.

For 40 years, 86-year-old C.P. Mincey put out a net for the purposes of catching fish in Garden City Beach, South Carolina. In 2013, while pulling in the net with his grandson, David Lane, the farmer discovered a dead dolphin caught in it. On the same day, his home was visited by two representatives of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and a federal agent from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to investigate the dolphin’s death. Mincey was later charged with a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. He was bewildered—he firmly believed he had broken no laws, and had taken every reasonable precaution to avoid inadvertently ensnaring a dolphin. In addition, hundreds of dolphins, killed by a rampant virus, had washed ashore on the East Coast in the last year, raising serious questions about the farmer’s culpability. Nevertheless, he was formally charged and hit with an inexplicably onerous fine: $6,500. Mincey was furious, and hired his son-in-law, LaFon LeGette, a veteran attorney, to represent him at a federal hearing. Walker (Alaska Highway Flight Log, 2017, etc.) follows the 15-month legal clash in granular detail, a remarkably scrupulous display of journalistic rigor. In cases like these, it’s exceedingly rare for the government to lose. The crux of the author’s account is governmental abuse of power. As LeGette contends in his closing argument: “No matter the ruling of this Court, the Government will never be able to change the fact that it has abused the rights of a law-abiding citizen and purposely sought to damage his good name in an attempt to convict him of a crime he did not commit.” But the chief virtue of Walker’s reportage doubles as its principal vice—the microscopically presented details can be overwhelming. And while LeGette’s performance is impressive, the courtroom action is generally less than dramatic—the case hinges on technicalities like the lawfulness of the government’s seizure of property and the dolphin’s cause of death. 

An intelligent study of governmental overreach hampered by legal minutiae. 

Pub Date: June 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4575-6504-5

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2018

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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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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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