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Book reviews for "Safire,_William" sorted by average review score:

Leadership: A Treasury of Great Quotations for Those Who Aspire to Lead
Published in Hardcover by Galahad Books (2000)
Authors: William Safire and Leonard Safir
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This is a treasure!
One of the aspects of a good leader is the ability to articulate powerful ideas through powerful words. As a college speech instructor, I am always looking for books which collect memorable and inspirational quotations --- and this book does just that. I was impressed with the emphasis on contemporary leaders and the fact that this book is not a just a re-hash of the quotations we all have from other books. It is easy to read and truly a bargain!

A Great Bathroom Reader
I enjoyed this book, but then I also enjoy great quotes. This is a perfect companion when you just have a few minutes to read. You can pick it up, turn to almost any page, and find something of use. I write a couple quotes down and stick them on my computer for the week. I find I often remember them long after they have been in the trash.

Let a Simile Be Your Umbrella
Published in Hardcover by Crown Pub (20 November, 2001)
Author: William Safire
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A Language Enthusiasts¿ Delight
Whether you're an amateur or professional wordsmith, William Safire's latest book will give you plenty to ponder. The book consists of 370 pages of essays and excerpts from columns, often accompanied by amusing letters from readers and critics. The essays are organized alphabetically by subject, with a comprehensive index to help you locate Safire's comments on a particular topic.

So jump right in an encounter a "delicious dialectic discovery" or examples of grammatical corruption, or a masterpiece of obfuscation. Get ready to do some etymological detective work. Position yourself as a pop grammarian and word maven. Become a lexicographer, neologic Nellie, word nerd, phrasedick or amateur etymologist.

Join the Gotcha! Gang who are obsessed with accuracy and a lust for catching error in others. Push some grammatical envelopes, enjoy elegant locutions and give proper obeisance to sloppy usage that has reached the refuge of idiom.

The examples of misused or obscure words and creative grammar range from the mildly interesting to the hysterically funny. Have you ever analyzed the lexicon of layoff including the terms downsized, rightsized, cashier, discharge, sack, bounce, give the heave-ho, can, rif, ax, walking papers, restructure, re-engineer, work-force imbalance correction and just plain fired?

Have you ever contemplated the difference between a flap, a caper and a scandal? Find out the origin of noogies and wedgies. Learn about the Irish history of "shenanigans". Review the difference between prone and supine. No public figure is immune from criticism, including presidents, first ladies, actors and television personalities. Safire also includes plenty of letters from readers pointing out his errors. Too bad the book was compiled before "W's" ascension to the presidency. Surely Safire's collection of George's blunders and bloopies is growing day by day.

Safire's collection will remind you that our language is a living, evolving volatile organism representative of our culture and place in history. I highly recommend this book to anyone curious or interested about language trends.

A Box Full of Joy! by fermed
Ah, yes! Chocolate truffles, maybe. With each that you consume there is an intense pleasure followed by the realization that one less truffle remains in the box. I got the same feeling as I read through this book. It contains 229 (or maybe 230 if I miscounted) little essays, some no more than a paragraph or so long, others extending several pages, followed occasionally by commentaries from readers of the "On Language" colums with which Safire has been regaling the nation since 1979.

The essays are arranged alphabetically by title, and not by date of publication (in fact the publication dates are nowhere to be seen) which makes the mixture all the more appealing. Thus the first one ("Adultery and Fraternization") is no closer chronologically to us than the last ("On Zeenes and Mags"). At least I don't think it is.

The title of the book derives from a column by the same name, which starts by analyzing "anomaly," checks in on the difference between "arcane" and "archaic," touches on "plunk," and finally tells us about Sen. Faircloth's colorful similes: "like eating ice cream with a knitting needle," "like skinning a hippopotamus with a letter opener," and "like teaching a kangaroo to do the limbo."

The comments made by his readers can be both profound and hilarious. Following a essay on Fowler's two revisions (of all things), F. J. Ortner took exception: "You stated that "tergiversation" comes from the Latin for "turning back." I think that should have been "turning the back." The word comes from "tergum," the back, and "versare" or "vertere," to turn. "Tourner le dos" instead of "reculer." Oh, my!

Following an essay on words and phrases used to describe nutsiness and madness, Nina Garfinkel of New York, pointed out a couple of expressions which Safire included in the book, and which I have appropriated for my own use: "He's out there where the buses don't run," and "the cheese fell of his cracker a long time ago."

This is a wonderful book to give to anyone with a love for words and thoughts and knowledge and humor. It is full of extraordinary flavors and textures, it is funny and serious, and a grand entertainment.

Safire's New Political Dictionary: The Definitive Guide to the New Language of Politics
Published in Hardcover by Random House (1993)
Author: William Safire
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Great for political junkies and historians too.
What is the significance of a president's 'First Hundred Days'? What is a 'spoiler,' and is it good or bad? And what the heck was a mugwump, anyway?

Whether you're deciphering an archaic term from the first days of the Republic or reading today's headlines, Safire's dictionary is a valuable and entertaining resource. You'll be tempted, as I was, to read it through from A to Z like a novel. Even everyday words and phrases like 'perks,' gridlock,' and 'rhetoric' have interesting derivations, while obscurities like 'thumbsucker,' 'magnet issue,' and 'break all the china' illustrate the surprising (to anyone stuck watching TV news) richness of the American political landscape.

Definitive work on the subject
An indispensable guide of great value not only in that it tell us the origins of these weapons of political warfare, but also in that it uses these linguistic creations to illustrate the vastly entertaining American political landscape.

Before the Fall : An Inside View of the Pre-Watergate White House
Published in Paperback by DaCapo Press (1988)
Author: William Safire
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A Very Human Nixon
This was one of Safire's first books after leaving the government and setting up shop at the New York Times. It's a massive but highly readable memoir of his service as speechwriter at the Nixon White House. His view of the president is highly nuanced but ultimately sympathetic. He unloads on Henry Kissinger for having Safire's phone tapped; writes a revealing portrait of Pat Moynihan and how that administration became more "progressive" than either liberal critics or conservative allies could admit; writes admiringly about Julie Eisenhower as "a glimpse of what her father could have been if he hadn't listened so often to the dark side of his personality." He touches on Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and the dirty tricksters and puts them in context of the domestic civil war that was produced by Vietnam--Safire was ahead of his time in giving Nixon more mercy and judging his adversaries as hypocritical (and disasterously wrong about the consequences of a Communist takeover in Southeast Asia.) Highly entertaining and informative--also see his novel of about the same time, "Full Disclosure", for a "roman a' clef" about his Nixon experience.

Confessions of a Street-Smart Manager
Published in Hardcover by Simon & Schuster (1988)
Authors: David Mahoney, William Safire, and Richard Conarroe
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This a readable book by a very successful man, who shares the basis of his success (and of others he's worked with, including Norton Simon). He is a noncomformist in a business suit, who has questioned orthodoxy and the status quo, to the benefit of his bank account. I'm surprised it is out of print, because it deserves to be the business classic that the lesser (but still valuable) WHAT THEY DON'T TEACH YOU AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL is.

Good Advice
Published in Hardcover by Crescent Books (1993)
Authors: William Safire and Leonard Safir
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Thoughtfulness multiplies
The two Mr. Safires express their joy in finding such concise expresions of good advice. Like poetry, good advice does sum up a whole lot of feelings and thoughts in one or two punchy phrases. Language is really neat that way, and I like the book for that, too. But what I love about this book, and why I bought it for myself and my littlest brother, is that each sentence reminds the reader that each of us is mulling over the same worries, and same concerns and the same desires... for success, for friendship, for self improvement. So the good advice is all the more useful, because it comes with a connection to other people who were thinking just like you at some point.

Power Language: Getting the Most Out of Your Words
Published in Paperback by Houghton Mifflin Co (Pap) (1996)
Authors: Jeffrey McQuain and William Safire
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Even Weavings
Sometimes less is more: POWER LANGUAGE aims for accuracy, honesty, impact, logic and strength. Familiarly short simple words in a short simple style start it up. Varied sentence lengths keep it going, with the shorter sentences making the most important information stand out; with a topic sentence, its support and conclusion making up a tightly powerful paragraph; and with the two strongest sentence positions for the most meaningful points being the first and last words. Too many opinions and statistics get in the way: speaking or writing, think of the listener or reader first; and make everything powerfully clear, simple and straightforward. Jeffrey McQuain's tightly woven style and text set business and other writing on course: his book has the answers to Jefferson D. Bates's WRITING WITH PRECISION, Peter Elbow's WRITING WITH POWER, Paul A. Eschholz's LANGUAGE AWARENESS, and Marcia Lerner's WRITING SMART.

Spread the Word
Published in Hardcover by Times Books (1999)
Authors: William Safire and Terry Allen
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Safire's usual brilliance
Safire's collections of On Language articles are always wonderful. This gem is no exception. Safire explores myriad areas of interest to word lovers. However, he does so in an enjoyable manner. Safire has a splendid sense of humor, making this book a wonderful selection, even for those who are not interested in words/english usage for their own sake. The format is also quite enjoyable, as Safire includes readers' responses to his articles, further enlightening the reader on each subject. I especially enjoy, as always, his presentation of grammatical bloopers from Madison Avenue. In short, this book is positively priceless!

Published in Paperback by Fireside (1990)
Author: William Safire
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Great Gift for High School Graduates
I found this book extremely useful in college. It has great quotes and short stories on a varity of subjects, all in alphabetical order. It was the most useful in my speech classes and any class that required a paper.

Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History
Published in Hardcover by W.W. Norton & Company (1997)
Author: William Safire
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Speak for Yourself, Safire
The audacity of this condescending pseudo-intellectual to offer help in public speaking is startling, especially as the material is mundane, already well-covered and publicly available from much more reputable sources. We can all give speaches without this rumormongering, obscene superzionist rabbi of the amen corner.

Outstanding collection of the worlds great speakers. A must-have for an aspiring columnist or the well-rounded reader. Buy it!

Lend Me Your Ears: The Great Speech is the Rare Speech
William Safire in his LEND ME YOUR EARS does not purport how to tell the novice speaker how to step up to the podium and knock 'em dead with a fluid barrage of words. Instead, his goal is more modest, to figure out why some speeches have reverberated through the acoustic corridors of history while others have fizzled out with nary an echo to record their passing. Surprisingly enough, he acknowledges that a magnificent speaking voice can not turn verbal mush into thrilling oratory. No one knows what Abe Lincoln truly sounded like, but we honor his Gettysburg Address as a sublime example of stirring words. What Safire does is to give the reader a sort of ten commandents that the great speakers of the past must have followed. Ironically, this list is not something that one can examine, nor can compare to what the speaker brings to the podium to exclaim,'Ah ha, this is what I lack!' Among the magical list includes a variation on the old saw, 'Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em; then tell 'em; then tell 'em what you told 'em.' Safire translates this as a smooth flow that invites a rhythm to the delivery. He adds that this smooth flow must not be the smoothness of uninterrupted rhythm; there ought to be a variation that allows the audience to catch a breath at just the right point. Other necessities include occasion (the speaker is at the right point at the right time); forum (the 'where' the speech is given); focus (what's the purpose or point); theme; word choice.
What Safire does with this list is to quote generally agreed upon memorable speeches and list them by category, speeches of patriotism, revolution and war, tributes and elegies, debates, trials, gallows and farewell, sermons, inspirational, lectures, social responsibility, finally closing with speeches of media, politics, and commencement. Each category has some dozen examples, with a prefatory explanatory essay per. Some speeches have the added advantage of having been popularized in the media by recording or rehearsed performance. I can still hear Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar' rousing the crowd to a killing frenzy: 'If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.' Shakespeare used every one of Safire's requirements. Getting Brando to say them was just a bonus. Who can forget Chief Joseph's closing words of the agony he felt over the destruction of his people by the white man: 'From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.' Then there is FDR's war declaration against Japan, replete with its sonorous cadences that begin with the critical phrase, 'day of infamy.'
Great speeches are often not great until after the fact. Lincoln felt that his speech at Gettysburg was a failure since it met only polite applause. Others generate the unmistakable cachet of greatness right away. Reading LEND ME YOUR EARS will not make you a great speaker, but it can give clues as to how and why the power of the spoken word can shake societies to their core.

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