Top critical review
1.0 out of 5 starsPointless. Also not very good.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 23, 2020
I am moved to wonder if the five-star reviewers and I inhabit the same universe. What is there to recommend about this book? People seem to be impressed by the quantity: gosh, 11,000 "expressions" -- that must have taken a lot of work.
Well, yes, but whatever knowledge is contained in this book is only the Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man" kind. There are just lists of expressions. No meanings, no origins, just those endless lists. No synthesis, no added value whatsoever. The authors appear to think that their slightly whimsical choices of list headings is helpful. I did not find this to be the case.
Let's browse the list of "animal" expressions... happy as a clam ... a fine kettle of fish ... like a salmon ... bear with me ... hide behind something ....
See, I have a problem with this. Whatever you might feel about classifying "like a salmon" as a bona fide expression, it is clearly nonsensical to include the last two examples on a list of "animal" expressions. The nuance that the word "bear" can have entirely different meanings as a noun and a verb appears to sail right over the authors' heads. This is not a good sign.
Nor is this an isolated instance. Elsewhere, a list entitled "Names and People" includes such entries as Adam's apple ... Faustian bargain ... a lost cause ... I'm with you ... sally forth .... peter out ...
Bet you didn't know that those last two verbs are actually derived from those two Christian names! Yeah, me neither.
The "Time and Age" list is where you will find the phrase 'spring up like mushrooms' because .... well, who knows really .. it appears to be because the authors make no distinction between the season and the verb 'spring''.
If someone 'hails from' Chicago, well clearly that belongs on the "Weather" list.
So, apart from the sheer tedium of those weirdly constituted lists, there is an inordinate degree of sloppiness under the surface. The surviving author attempts to pass this off as a feature rather than a bug, but he doesn't convince me. But then I am never going to trust someone who allows the solecism "get your just desserts" to get into print.
Thirteen years of work. To what end? And for what intended audience? The author suggests the book will provide hours of rollicking fun with one's grandchildren. Heaven forfend!
If you have any respect for those grandchildren, skip this dud, and buy them a copy of Garner's Modern English Usage instead.