Monday Links

– As I have noted in this space before, one of my favorite authors, Richard Brookhiser has a new book out. What Would the Founders Do?:

In the only book of its kind, Brookhiser uses his vast knowledge of the Founders and of modern politics to apply their views to today’s issues. Brookhiser also explores why what the Founders would think still matters to us. After all, the French don’t ask themselves, “What would Charlemagne do?” But Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, Adams and all the rest have an unshakeable hold on our collective imagination. We trust them more than today’s politicians because they built our country, they wrote our user’s manuals—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution—and they ran the nation while it was still under warranty and could be returned to the manufacturer. If anyone knows how the U.S.A. should work, it must be them.

There is also a webpage where you can read blogs by Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and George Washington. You can also read an excerpt from the introduction.

– Another National Review author, John Derbyshire, has an article on Lolita up today at NRO. Here is his recollection of reading it for the first time:

I suppose—though I honestly can’t remember—I had heard that it was a dirty book, and been attracted to it for that reason, having, like every other healthy 16-year-old male, a dirty mind. I very soon discovered my error. Much more important than that, I found myself in a new and very strange imaginative space, like none I had ever visited before, and filled with such wonders and delights that if I experienced any disappointment at not having been titillated, that disappointment was swamped by sheer esthetic pleasure, so much so that I retained no memory of it.

If numbers are more your style, you could always read his new book: Unknown Quantity: A Real And Imaginary History of Algebra.

– Dave over at Faith In Fiction is continuing his discussion of Density in Writing:

I think the first rule of dense writing should be that our language must be precise. We need to understand the words we select (choose, pick, proffer) entirely (fully, wholly, in a biblical sense.)

Not only do we need to understand what they mean on a denotative level (literally) but what the shadings of the word imply as well. (I’m going to stop with the little paranthetical games for the moment. You should get the point.)

Precision on a word-by-word basis is not about mining your thesaurus–although it likely will mean expanding your vocabulary. This isn’t random substitution of words merely for effect. It’s being conscious (likely during rewrite!!) of how word selection shades and changes voice, tone, style, etc.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


  1. Kevin, we know language is a living form. Have you used this source (Michael Quinion) before? It appears to be a worthwhile way to ensure preciseness, as Dave asks. Better yet, a way to fight back against the flood of media terms that no one bothers to define (or indeed properly employ). ‘Truthiness’ might be one..

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