Tue, 03 May 2005

Geoffrey Blainey Needs a Good Editor/Proofreader

I've long felt my knowledge of history was far too poor, so I picked up Professor Geoffrey Blainey's "A Short History of the World". I read "The Tyranny of Distance" in high school, and now I remember there was a sentence in it I deeply disliked for its awkward form. I was reminded by this sentence, in "A Short History", on page 52:

A vat was also used for trampling with bare feet the grapes brought down from the vineyards on the hills.

How about "The grapes were brought down from the vineyards on the hills and trampled with bare feet in a similar vat"? Or even "A vat was also used for bare-footed trampling of grapes, which were brought down from the vineyards on the hills"? The awkwardness of this sentence threw my concentration enough to blog about it.

Then on page 54, consecutive paragraphs:

At times the expanding population was cut back by epidemics. ...
Then in the paragraph immediately following:
While the new way of life provided more food and so increased the population of the world, it fostered viruses which periodically cut back the population.

This kind of repetition is, I gather, what an editor is supposed to catch and persuade the author to rework. That said, the book is quite good so far. I can't vouch for its accuracy, of course, and I'd love some Wikipedia links from various places, but it's still quite readable and interesting.

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