David Solway reviews a friend’s book, and opens with one of the best openings I’ve seen in any book review:
I begin with a disclosure. Salim Mansur is a friend of mine, so if I were in any way skeptical of his deposition I would not have consented to write this review. Friendship is too precious a value to risk giving needless offense, either by being too brutally honest or by producing a piece of dishonest puffery. And since even the best of us have written problematic books (including yours truly), it is best in such cases to say nothing adverse in print and leave it to others to dissect the writer’s efforts.
That I write a review of a friend’s book, then, means that I suffer no crisis of conscience in praising it for its many virtues: clarity, painstaking research, intellectual scrupulousness, a surfeit of historical and juridical information, and a powerful argument backed by strict evidence and leading to a set of forceful conclusions.
That is good writing. Too bad Obama never mastered the skill.
UPDATED to make it intelligible. Sometimes I write, not in English, but in an approximation of English. Sigh….