Mr. Evans’s skills are on display on nearly every page of Do I Make Myself Clear? Writing a book about writing well can be hazardous for the author—reviewing one is risky, too—but in this case at least the author and his readers have nothing to fear ... The best part of Do I Make Myself Clear? is the author’s virtuoso line editing of opaque texts ... Ever on the news, Mr. Evans inevitably turns his laser gaze on Donald Trump and that hallmark of the new era, 'fake news.'
As a master editor and distinguished author, Evans is well qualified to instruct us on how to write well. But can he delight us in the process? After reading this book, I can affirm that the answer is yes. For the most part. Up to a point ... The fun begins to flag, however, when Evans invites us into what he calls his 'sentence clinic.' There we are suffered to see him in editorial action, applying his surgical tools to specimens of bloated, dull, euphemistic, incomprehensible prose ... But these are the quibbles of envy. I wish I had the editorial chops to produce such an authoritative guide myself...In fact, if I were the current occupant of the White House, I would take on this issue by appointing Sir Harold to be our nation’s Good Writing Tsar. Or Czar.
...this certainly does not feel like an old man’s book. It is full of enthusiasm for words and the struggling idea that they actually matter. And it is full of sound advice for anyone who wants to make themselves clearer, whether they write novels, articles or memos to the regional sales director ... Above all, Evans understands — as his Sunday Times did — that there is no single correct approach to writing: it depends what one is trying to convey ... However, Evans does seem unsure himself what job he is trying to do here. Is this a pleasurable read or a textbook? It veers between the two. Either way, it would have been a damn sight more useful if the publishers had bothered with an index.
Although this is yet another how-to, self-help text for would-be writers—with some of the usual hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing about the abuses of English today—this one merits more attention because it comes from the keyboard of a celebrated journalist and editor ... Thoughtful ruminations about current language mixed with praise for clarity and disdain for murkiness.