I have just finished reading Illiberal Reformers, by Thomas C. Leonard, motivated by Carl E. Olson’s interest-piquing review “A Faith Misplaced” (Reviews, June). I heartily concur with Mr. Olson’s enthusiasm for a fine, concise, and accessible account of the 19th- and early-20th-century Progressives’ infatuations with German economics, evolution, racial stereotyping, and paternalism toward women and the tyrannical policies that riding those hobbyhorses led them to formulate.
I regret, however, that Mr. Olson (to whom I am not related) didn’t mention that the book has been released by Prince ton University Press riddled with typographical errors that impede what should be smooth reading. The victims of PUP’s editorial sloppiness are primarily the definite and indefinite articles and two-letter prepositions. The is often missing when it should occur within a sentence. A and an are mistakenly used—a where an is called for, and vice versa—too many times to count. To, by, and of are often missing or appear both before and after their subjects. In addition, the adjective hereditary appears at least three times where the noun heredity should have. Mistaken tense and participial forms of verbs appear annoyingly often. And one of the oldest, most embarrassing canards in all American historiography is repeated once more when the abbreviation IWW is said to stand for International—not, as factuality as well as coherence and common sense have it, Industrial—Workers of the World.
By no means is the author culpable. Blame PUP. And readers, prepare yourselves for a bumpy ride.
St. Paul, MN