978-0-679-45781-7 / 9780679457817

Spread the Word


Publisher:Times Books



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About the book:

William Safire's "On Language" column, 20 years old with the publication of this collection, is one of Sunday morning's great pleasures: Where else can one turn for a timely linguistic assessment of a president's inaugural speech, a corporation's annual report, or the use of terms such as stud muffin and horny? A still greater pleasure is reading Safire's language columns in book form, where they are accompanied by letters from tireless members of the Nitpickers' League, the Gotcha! Gang, the Squad Squad, the Board of Octogenarian Mentors, and others. The columns may be Safire's, but the letters--from Jacques Barzun, Alistair Cooke, William A. Sabin, even Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Benazir Bhutto--are allowed the final word. And imperfect wordsmiths everywhere may be relieved to know that even William Safire can make a mistake. "Sometimes," he writes in his introduction to Spread the Word, "a kindly copy editor will call to say, 'Are you deliberately trying to slip this egregious error into the paper?'" --Jane Steinberg

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