I checked this book out on the strength of the adulatory reviews contained here. Big mistake. This is hands-down the most overwritten, ploddingly morose book I have encountered in a long time. Mr. Nuland is not a writer, but he's apparently read some bad ones, and consequently thinks that the marks of serious literature are ubiquitous adverbs; tangled, portentous sentences; and the pervasive aroma of the thesaurus. (He's obviously never read Steven King's "On Writing.") "Depilatory armamentarium" (for "medicine cabinet") and "mucoid secretions" (for "tears") will remain in my memory as benchmarks of bad writing long after everything else about this self-pitying, insightless book has mercifully faded away.
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