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Not a casual writing aid; good only if you are prepared to seriously engage it.
on November 18, 2006
A couple of months ago I saw a reference to this book, which aims to improve one's writing style.
After reading a couple of reviews, and seeing that it had gone through four editions since first being published in 1975, I sprang for it (second hand on Amazon, of course.)
There are six chapters (Diction, Linking, Tone and Tune, Meaning, Composition and Revision). Each chapter has discussions and exercises (basically correcting errors in sentences and paragraphs), as well as examples of good writing. The book can work as a kind of textbook in a beginning or intermediate writing class; or as a supplement. However for a casual reader such as myself, looking for hints, clues and ideas, it was too much. I only did about 10% of the exercises.
I would only recommend this book for someone who was going to seriously engage it, with all the exercises.
The author, Jacques Barzun (a well-known academic; here's the opening line in Jacques Barzun - Wikipedia, "a leading American historian of ideas and culture. He has also eloquently defended tradition in the practice of higher education and scholarship.") wouldn't have been too impressed with the cliche I used in the second paragraph above "I sprang for it".