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April 2008

Volume XXVIII, No. 2

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, 42nd edition. Edited by Norm Goldstein. New York: Basic Books, 2007. x + 419 pages. ISBN 13: 978-0-465-00489-8. Paper. $18.95.

First published in 1977, this “bible of the newspaper industry”-so named on the cover page-informs us of its success by saying, also on the cover page, that “more than two million copies [of it have been] sold.” Consequently, the recommendations given therein have exerted and continue to exert a major influence on how the world's problems are perceived by Americans. The book is not only a guide in matters such as spelling or correct meaning of words, but also in thinking about the world. It indirectly counsels what to include and what to exclude, and how to navigate political, social, cultural, technological, psychological, and other events.

Who does not want to be reassured about the correct way to use capitalization (39), the proper spelling of abbreviated state names (231), or the correct names of agencies in the National Institutes of Health (163)? However, Mr. Goldstein also gives definitions of problems and institutions that are often saddled with bias, prejudice, and unfair historical generalizations.  Consider “Eastern Europe,” said to be “no longer a separate political unit.” Has it ever been such? Consider the implications of the suggestion that it used to be a “separate political unit.” The only conceivable period of such unity was military occupation by the Soviets, with all the violence, stunted growth, and population tragedies this occupation entailed. But the expression “a separate political unit” suggests a certain nostalgia, or at least a possibility that it might return to being such a “unit” some time in the future. There may be political forces that would love to see that happen; however, from the standpoint of almost two hundred million citizens of “Eastern Europe” who celebrated the fall of Sovietism twenty years ago, a return to such a “political unit” is unthinkable. Do we perceive a slight anti-Eastern European bias here?

Or consider the difference in the description of Eastern Orthodoxy on the one hand, and Roman Catholicism on the other. The first is said to be distinguished by “hav[ing] roots in the earliest days of Christianity,” while the second is said to refer to “those who believe that the pope, as bishop of Rome, has the ultimate authority in administering an earthly organization founded by Jesus Christ.” Note the affirmative and factual value of “having roots in the earliest days of Christianity” and the reduction of Roman Catholicism to a “belief” that the pope has the ultimate authority.

The “Roman Catholic Church” entry begins with the following: “The church teaches that its bishops have been established as the successors of the apostles through generations of ceremonies in which authority was passed down by a laying-on of hands” (213-14). What a clever way to avoid saying what the Church actually believes, or acknowledging its role in creating the cultural entity called Europe. The Catholic Church is reduced to “generations of ceremonies.” Nothing is said about the credibility of the Church's origins. The format in which the ostensibly non-judgmental information about “generation of ceremonies” is offered encourages skepticism about the intrinsic value of such an organization. A church that can be described as “generations of ceremonies” could hardly have done anything significant in history. In contrast, “Eastern Orthodox Church” is described in a way that affirms the validity of its beliefs, as a church that “has roots in the earliest days of Christianity.”

It is this kind of subtle bias that makes this book an untrustworthy tool for journalists. Better to use A Manual of Style published by the Chicago University Press. (SB)

Sibirskoe likholet'e [The years of Siberian tragedies], by Szymon Tokarzewski [spelled wrongly as “Tokarzewsky” on the bibliography page]. Translated into Russian by Meri Kushnikova, edited by Viacheslav Toguev. Kemerovo, Russia: Kuzbassvuzizdat, 2007. 979 pages. Indices of names and places. ISBN 5-202-00079-0. Hardcover. In Russian.

A remarkable collection of the writings of Polish political writer Szymon Tokarzewski, twice sentenced to hard labor in the Gulag. Other than the big mistake in the spelling of his name, the book is carefully edited and translated, and a lengthy introduction is executed in a scholarly fashion. We published excerpts from Tokarzewski's works in the 2005 issue of Sarmatian Review, available on the Web. A review to follow.

Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej, no. 4 (75), April 2007, 116 pages; nos. 5-6 (76 -77), May-June 2007, 148 pages; no. 7 (78), July 2007, 116 pages. Warsaw: Institute of National Memory (ul. Towarowa 28, 00-839 Warsaw, <>). ISSN 1641-9561. Zl. 6.50 plus postage from the publisher. In Polish.

This monthly bulletin contains accounts of what used to be forbidden history: the real history of the Polish lands occupied by Soviet Russia between 1944-1989. Reviews to follow.

Polish Americans in Califnoria, edited by Gene Harubin Zygmont, Artur Zygmont, Gillian Olechno-Huszcza (Part I), and Henrietta Simons (Part II). National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs and Polish American Historical Association [no place given], 1995. xii+ 269 pages. ISBN 0-940798-08-5. Paper.

A collection of miscellaneous texts about various Polish organizations (or their chapters) in Califnoria, and the biographies of people active in these organizations. The book has "Volume II" written on its title page; from the introduction we learn that vol. I of Polish Americans in Califnoria was published in 1977.

The book might provide some secondary material to the researcher who will finally write a critical histoy of the Polish American presence in the United States. It shows that Polish communities in Califnoria led a vigorous communal life and they they fared well as far as income was concerned. However, the book implies that these communities led a rudderless and ghettoized life, without any serious goals except the tasks at hand. A number of concerts, balls, meetings, and so on took place, but they all occurred outside the mainstream, so to speak They were ghetto activities even if attended by non-Poles, and led to nothing in particular. The Polish community in California, like virtually all other Polish communities in the United States, urgently needs civic leaders to lead them out of their ghettos.

In a way common to Polonian publications, the book goes off in various directions without any attempt by the editors to "gather it all together" and provide an interpretation of trens, directions, and perspectives for the future (or at least suggest them). It is more like a laudation

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