Democracy: Becoming As One, by Willard Hetrick
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]
At times the vanity of being able to claim that one is a published writer outweighs the caution that would lead one to write well. As a writer I am sensitive to this concern, as I regularly expose my writings to the harsh critique and general scrutiny of the world at large. This book, and calling it a book is somewhat generous, is the sort of material that embarrasses its author for lacking any of the polish that makes a book enjoyable to read, and not only that, the general tone and content of the book suggest that the author is not someone who would be enjoyable to chat with over some good food. So, this work in many ways is the worst of many worlds, a book that is too short to contain a great deal of depth, too poorly written in order to appreciate from a stylistic point of view, and too strident to be viewed with a great deal of charity. The combination means that its chief value is being short enough not to tax the reader for as long as he should have been afflicted to read this misconceived book , and the fact that if the author chooses to engage competent help in improving his text to something that is acceptable for public enjoyment and edification, that work should not take too long.
The work appears to be of the scope of a series of sermons about the subject of biblical history insofar as it relates to democracy. The author develops an odd and idiosyncratic two-step checklist to judging behavior among biblical personages and our own political involvement, and that checklist goes as follows: Check one: Does it benefit us? Check two: Does it benefit others? The author spends surprisingly little time talking about democracy, except to note that our own selfishness tends to keep us from acting with the collective and general benefit in mind, a fair criticism to make about democracy, albeit one that is underscored by his own decision to make self-interest the first check of any behavior, rather than esteeming others and their concerns to be more important than our own as the apostle Paul commands in Philippians 2:3, which would be a more effective verse to make concerning our political system than the comparatively lengthy and muddled explorations the author makes of the history of Genesis. The general coherence of the author’s message is not helped either by his seeming inability to write a complete sentence and his frequent resort to fragments, bizarre choices of special characters to set of biblical passages, and a general inability to show consistency in formatting and capitalization. The result is a pamphlet-length book that would fail any standardized test for writing from the elementary school level onward.
This book basically stands as a cautionary tale to would-be writers to remind anyone who would be tempted to write a book that it is first necessary to grasp the fundamentals of grammar and syntax and composition, that it is worthwhile to read good books to see how they look and how they flow and how they are put together, and that one ought to be well-equipped to handle the scrutiny of critical review before one engages on a writing career. It is impossible to recommend this book on any other level than a warning to those who would be tempted to beclown themselves likewise to show more caution and diligence in honing their arts of written communication before embarking on efforts in self-publishing. Indeed, this effort is so weak that if I were a publisher myself I would endeavor to suppress the work, refund the author’s fees for self-publishing services, and strongly encourage the writer to reconsider his efforts to be published without developing the rudiments of good style. I recommend Strunk and White, as their book is short, for those who need the help like this author does. Don’t be like him; learn to write before publishing.
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