Top positive review
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Hip, Handy, and Highly Literate
on November 13, 2003
I first encountered "Nuts and Bolts" several years ago, when it was just a web-site. Back then, Yahoo! gave it one of their "cool sites" awards (complete with cute little sunglasses.) It became such a hit on the web, Hackett decided to give Professor Harvey a publishing contract.
Its great that they did, because the other college writing handbooks are either deadly dull or sprouting whiskers. Nuts and Bolts is neither dry nor bewhiskered -- it is hip, handy, and highly literate. This new book could (and should) evict Strunk and White, Turabian, Chicago Style Book, and all the other has-beens and never-weres as the one book every college student (yes, including science majors) should carry in their book bag. (Dissertation-writers may still need Chicago for their fine brush-work, but everyone else will find this jack-of-all-topics addresses most high-school and college needs.)
What's so great about this book? Essentially, it provides one-stop shopping for the essentials of good college term-paper writing -- usually dispensed in travel-sized doses of only three or four pages.
Nuts and Bolts presumes little, but teaches much. It rides no high horses, grinds no axes, curries no favors. Yet it is both idiot- and pedant -proof. Never written an essay before, but want to know what one is? Nuts and Bolts will tell you, without making you feel stupid for having asked. (Enlightening but non-overwhelming flashback to Montaigne included). Want to know what good sentences look like? (hint: active verbs) How to cite a "blog" in an essay? (take that, Strunk and White!) "Nuts and Bolts" does all this and (much) more while always remembering that brevity is the soul of pedagogy.
Finally, though it crisply marches student essays from the first head-scratch to the last push of the "print" button, its elegant writing and efficient layout make Nuts and Bolts ideal for sustained soaks or surgical strikes as needs dictate. Perfect example: Nuts and Bolts provides side-by-side comparisons of how each of the three major citation-systems expect students to format books, articles, websites (etc.) in their bibliographies and footnotes. A veritable god-send for the student triple-majoring in English Lit, Psychology, and Bio!
This book is written so clearly, and presumes so little background on the part of its reader (Professor Harvey has obviously studied the average scantily-trained college student in its native habitat) that you almost don't realize how supremely intelligent it is. Though it will probably mostly be assigned for remedial purposes, the book is so engagingly written it will inspire even very good writers -- teachers and professors included -- to carry it around in their own soft-sider brief cases. Adios, Strunk and White. Hello, Nuts and Bolts.