Top critical review
A Fail of Two Cities
17 November 2018
I've never read a book before this one where I've noticed the editing, but it is done so appallingly here it is impossible to miss. Some sentences are dropped in at random, bearing no relation to the ones before or after, seemingly from a different paragraph. Others make no grammatical sense no matter how many times you read them. Acronyms, events and surnames are thrown at the reader but only properly introduced and explained 10 pages later, if at all. Bizarre metaphors are left completely unexplained while other points are elucidated in the same way multiple times in the same chapter. Because you encounter one of these problems every few pages, it makes deep reading of a complex subject very difficult. This, coupled with the author's tendency to write 20 words where 10 would do, with constant reference to his thesaurus, leads to an incredibly frustrating read.
It's a real pity because, when you do manage to get into the flow of the book, it can be fascinating. Burleigh seems to really know his stuff, has an eye for surprising details and his opinions are often entertainingly forthright. I can only assume the rush to make the paperback of this history of now as up-to-the-minute as possible has led to a similar rush by its editor.