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Garner on Language and Writing Hardcover – January 7, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1590315880 ISBN-10: 159031588X Edition: 1St Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 876 pages
  • Publisher: American Bar Association; 1St Edition edition (January 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159031588X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590315880
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,853,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Since the 1987 appearance of A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage, Bryan A. Garner has proved to be a versatile and prolific writer on legal-linguistic subjects. This collection of his essays shows reveals both profound scholarship and sharp wit.

The essays cover subjects as wide-ranging as learning to write, style, persuasion, contractual and legislative drafting, grammar, lexicography, writing in law school, writing in law practice, judicial writing, and all the literature relating to these diverse subjects.

Some have called Garner a controversialist, and he doesn't shrink from controversy here: he takes aim at legal academia, at word-bungling law reviews, at writers who interlard their writing with overlong citations, at judges who use extremely arcane words for little or no reason, and at the many conventions that tend to mire legal writing in perpetual mediocrity.

In one of the most entertaining chapters -- "Bizarreries" -- Garner takes on judges who pun on litigants' names, legal writers who mangle Latin, and, in one of the most extended yet entertaining exchanges imaginable on such a subject, and people who take preposterous positions on wording issues (such as whether "Sincerely" is an erroneous complimentary close).

There are moving tributes to Professor Charles Alan Wright, Judge Thomas Gibbs Gee, and Sir Robert Megarry (whose last book Garner finished). There are piquant book reviews that damn the work of some famous writers, such as Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves) and the linguist Stephen Pinker, as well as enthusiastic recommendations of books that Garner finds meritorious.

In the final chapter, Garner collects "recommended sources on language and writing." This one-of-a-kind bibliography guides readers to seminal texts in virtually every language-related field, from brief-writing to playwriting to poetry to linguistics to general semantics.

In her foreword, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg declares the book to be "a 'must read' primer" for her law clerks. Anyone with a lively interest in language, writing, and law will find this book hard to lay aside.

About the Author

Bryan A. Garner is editor in chief of all current editions of Black's Law Dictionary and the author of many books and articles on legal writing. His 879-page usage guide, Garner's Modern American Usage, is widely considered the leading authority on general English usage today. Most recently he coauthored Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (2008) with Justice Antonin Scalia.

Garner conducts more than 100 seminars each year on persuasive writing, legal drafting, judicial writing, and oral argument. Since the 1991 founding of his company, Dallas-based LawProse Inc., he has taught more than 90,000 lawyers and judges throughout the United States and in many other countries. His clients have included the United Nations, the U.S. Solicitor General's Office, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the California Judicial Conference, and many state supreme courts -- not to mention dozens of Fortune 500 companies and more than 300 law firms.

A graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Garner has taught there and at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. He has received many awards over the years and two honorary LL.D.'s.


More About the Author

Bryan Garner is the award-winning author or editor of more than 20 books. He is a prolific lecturer, having taught more than 2,500 writing workshops since the 1991 founding of his company, LawProse, Inc. His works include Garner on Language and Writing and Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, co-written with Justice Antonin Scalia. Garner has served as editor-in-chief of Black's Law Dictionary since 1995, and he is the author of the grammar-and-usage chapter in the venerable Chicago Manual of Style.

Customer Reviews

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Bryan Garner is my legal writing guru.
Buster's mom
A must read for anyone seriously interested in the high art of communication.
John English
This book was instrumental to me during my legal writing class.
Robert Ingalls

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Buster's mom on January 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've been waiting for this book to be available for more than a year, and it did not disappoint. If you love language, especially if you are a lawyer but not just then, you will want this book. Bryan Garner is my legal writing guru. I've taken several of his classes and own most of his books (except the one about golf). He has markedly improved my legal writing, but even more importantly, he has significantly contributed to my knowledge and appreciation of written English in all of its variations.

We have waged debates with opposing counsel using Garner as our guide: why on earth must "shall" be used in contracts? It need not, says Bryan, and this book explains why. Persuasively.

There's lots more here for everyone. If you love words and love language, I guarantee you will love this book and will turn to it frequently.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By IndianaJane on December 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
I love well-written books on using the written word, and this is a good one. Although the main focus is on legal writing, the book is accessible and useful even for those of us who aren't legal scholars. And for those of us who enjoy reading about the law, it is doubly enjoyable. Garner encourages clarity and precision in writing, which is always good advice, whatever your field.

The large and well organized final chapter, "Recommended Sources on Language and Writing," has added many books to my wanted list, and makes this book even more of a must-have for those who are interested in good writing in general and legal writing in particular.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Edwin F. Stevens on January 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For the first time in my reading life, I've found a book (Bryan A. Garner's "Garner on Language and Writing") that reveals a sense of humor on its title page.

Look no farther down the page than its disclaimer section.

First, we have the American Bar Association's (the publisher's) orthodox version, weighed down by a ton of legalese:

"The materials contained herein represent the opinions and views of the author, and should not be construed to be the views or opinions of the law firms or companies with whom such persons are in partnership with, associated with, or employed by, nor of the American Bar Association, unless adopted pursuant to the bylaws of the Association. Nothing contained in this book is to be considered as the rendering of legal advice for specific cases, and readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. This book and any forms and agreements herein are intended for educational and informational purposes only." [To experience the full impact of this convolution, you must read every word; no skipping.]

But just below that we encounter a piquant surprise. With the amused approval of the publisher, Garner has supplied his own version of what the disclaimer should have been, reflecting his penchant for brevity and clarity and sanity:

"The essays in this volume represent the author's views -- not those of the American Bar Association."

Let the record show that the staid American Bar Association has allowed itself to be twitted.

Behold: Exhibit A of humorous corporate tolerance. The proof is conclusive and irrefutable.

Case closed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In a world where everyone is looking for a loophole, good wording is essential. "Garner on Language and Writing" is a law discussion from Bryan Garner discussing th many problems in today's legalese writing from all levels of discussion. With wit along with his wisdom, Garner's manual of law isn't just plain and straight text, as Garner does much to make his book entertaining as well as outlining things that should be avoided in today's world of legal language. Educational, enlightening, entertaining, Garner produces a volume with all of these qualities, with additional tributes to those who have made Garner and his career possible, making "Garner on Language and Writing" is enthusiastically recommended reading for law students or anyone who wants a better understanding of the jungle of the law.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Nye on April 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Bryan A. Garner is the author or more than a dozen legal-linguist books, including Garner's Modern American Usage; A Dictionary of Modern American Usage; Legal Writing in Plain English; The Elements of Legal Style; and many others. Since 1991, he has also been the editor-in-chief of Black's Law Dictionary.

In other words, he knows his stuff.

This book is a compilation of essays covering a variety of subjects, such as the basics of learning to write, style, persuasion, grammar and lexicography. He also covers topics of specific interest to lawyers, such as contractual and legislative drafting, writing in law school, writing in law practice, and judicial writing.

The book includes a foreword by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in which she declares that the book is a "must read" primer for her law clerks. Garner must be looked at with favor by members of the Supreme Court, he also wrote Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Any interesting ABA Journal interview transcript with Garner and Justice Scalia is available here: [...]

Most lawyers, and probably all judges, agree that good writing is essential to the practice of law. But after taking that legal writing class in law school, it's hard to put in the effort needed to write persuasively, isn't it? After all, once you're in practice, it's obvious that lawyers and judges write in legalese - always have, always will. To have merit in a legal document, plain English must take a back seat to legal terminology - right?

Garner vehemently disagrees. In one of his early essays, he writes:

There are two - and only two - major skills that you need as a lawyer; people shills and writing skills.
Read more ›
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