Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review - Dead Wrong by Richard Belzer & David Wayne

This is a great and valuable book!  Here are more detailed comments:

Did the Conspiracy Win by Making
the Book Impossible to Read?

This is a book full of investigations of supposedly “closed” incidents that were declared “solved” despite tons of evidence otherwise.  The most shameful truth is that the lies that smoothed over these murders were almost always told -- and still maintained -- by honorless people in our own government.


However, the book is almost ruined by the terrible LACK of proofreading and copy-editing.  A mistake or two is proof that a human being wrote the thing.  But this book is so full of simply correctable formatting errors that it makes you wonder if it was DELIBERATELY SABOTAGED by “the Man” -- to make the book’s message of truth (and American shame) hard to understand.


Here is my chronicle of frustrations:


Simple misspellings are found, like using “sights” for “sites” and “throws” for “throes.”  On page 255, an idea “was posted at one point.”  Since there is no mention of the internet or mail in the sentence, I bet that “posted” is missing the letter “I” and should be the word “posited” -- that is, “theorized or suggested.”


In many places, paragraph indentations don’t happen.  Several times, the font size changes from one line to the next, as in the top line of the Trafficante quotation on page 139.  The first line is slightly smaller than the next seven lines of the transcribed recording.


In several places, there is an uneven amount of space between lines, often between a paragraph and the last line of the paragraph, as on pages 162 (top paragraph); 164 (second paragraph); and 174 (second paragraph).


In a couple of places, there is NOSPACEBETWEENWORDS on a particular line of text, as on page 166 (two lines after boldface Baden quotation); and page 176 (the only indented paragraph on page, about two-thirds down).


The caption for the photo on page 169 talks about yellow and red lines on the photo, but this is a black-and-white photo with only light-colored and darker lines.  We know what the authors mean, but a proofreader should have caught this.


On page 192, we have a paragraph break in the middle of a sentence.  The third “paragraph” of a quotation is actually part of paragraph two.


On pages 227-228 and 270, the word “absence” is misspelled “abcense.”  And on the earlier pages, it’s in BIG CAPITAL LETTERS.


On page 264, the sentence regarding source material is given; then the source is cited; then the sentence regarding source material is given AGAIN, and more sources cited.  The sentence saying “the following sources were used” didn’t need to be there twice!


On page 298, the last bullet point has no closing parenthesis.


Can you see what I mean?  This book looks amateurish because of all the mistakes.  Looking like a third-grade production (no offense to third-graders!) makes the book seem easy to dismiss.  I can imagine a lot of conformist types looking this book over and saying, “If the editing is this sloppy, what does that say about the arguments and information here?”


Another trouble is that oftentimes the same information is repeated two and three times, in the same words or phrases, to repeat the same rhetorical point.  This may be a result of an editor not blending together different angles of an argument, I’m not sure.  This is very apparent in the chapter on Marilyn Monroe, which also has a very hard-to-read formatting problem.  For many pages we have side-by-side dueling text blocks.  One side of the page will have a running timeline of Marilyn’s last days, while the other column of text has other information.  You have to use several bookmarks or something to keep your places while trying to read two simultaneous pieces of text, for five or ten pages!  After a while this is like listening to the Beatles in one ear and Beethoven in the other ear.  You want to hear both but you’re too distracted to get the best out of either!


Once again, the book’s CONTENT is important, disturbing, and should be confronted.  It’s the presentation that makes you cringe.


This could be a dynamite book!  I beg Belzer and Wayne to let me proofread/copy-edit any future editions FREE OF CHARGE.  (I have been a professional copy editor/proofreader.)   But a book that comes out like this is irritating, and it makes you cringe to realize that a book full of silly blunders like this dilutes its own message by looking like “an amateur hour production.”

You should read this book!


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