From Publishers Weekly
Bestselling author Bryson's latest book is really his first: this guide to usage, spelling and grammar was first published in 1983 when Bryson (In a Sunburned Country, etc.) was an unknown copyeditor at the London Times, and has now been revised and updated for use in the U.S. Alphabetically arranged entries include commonly misspelled and misused words. He also includes common problems with grammar, as well as an appendix on punctuation. Bryson often cites the 1983 edition of H.W. Fowler's A Dictionary of Modern English Usage as an authority, though he also makes a handful of references to recent texts, such as the Encarta World English Dictionary and Atlantic Monthly columnist Barbara Wallraff's "Word Court." Despite the revisions, the book often betrays its origins as a British text, as in citing words in common usage throughout the U.K. and British Commonwealth, but rarely used by American writers, such as Taoiseach, the Prime Minister of Ireland or City of London vs. city of London. In addition, Bryson avoids taking on computer lingo, such as distinguishing between the Internet and the World Wide Web. Despite these shortcomings, Bryson's erudition is evident and refreshing. His passage on split infinitives, for example, asserts that it is "a rhetorical fault a question of style and not a grammatical one." Readers looking for the author's trademark humor will not find it here. Instead they will find a straightforward, concise, utilitarian guide, albeit one listing Bryson's "suggestions, observations, and even treasured prejudices" on newspaper writing primarily in Britain, circa 1983.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Offering "some 60 percent" new material, Bryson author of A Walk in the Woods, among other titles, and a former London Times copy editor has updated his 1984 work, The Facts On File Dictionary of Troublesome Words. He maintains a broad audience appeal by humorously addressing topics ranging from easily confused place names to geology's stalactite and stalagmite. The 1000 alphabetically arranged entries are often of the gantlet/gauntlet type, which offers clarification of definitions, spelling, and differences between U.S. and British English. Redundant wording is the other usage error most frequently mentioned, as seen in the entry "complete and unabridged." Prominent usage questions, e.g., dangling modifiers and the word hopeul, receive full-page or longer entries. Most notable among the entries are examples of erroneous usage quoted from prestigious publications, particularly newspapers. As in the first edition, Bryson presents an appendix and a glossary covering punctuation and grammatical terms. His work can be compared with William Strunk and E.B. White's Elements of Style in its concision but focuses more on usage errors, while Strunk and White's work expands to general guidance on good writing. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
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- Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.