The Printable KISS Workbooks Back to January Menu
Selections from 
Robert L. Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers
Fifth Edition. N.Y.: Simon and Schuster (Touchstone), 1980.

     This is a great, readable introduction to the history of economics. It is a shame that more students are not expected, or at least invited, to read books like it while they are in high school. Having them do so would not only broaden their understanding of history, politics, and economics, it might also, for some of them, broaden their career expectations.

Selection # 1 AK - L6.1 -Punct

     This selection (from page17) includes an interesting fragment plus the unusual use of semicolons to separate subordinate clauses. Most writers develop their styles not by studying grammar, but from wide reading. Heilbroner may have drawn his use of semicolons to separate subordinate clauses from his reading of John Stuart Mill. He quotes from Mill what he calls a "thunderous paragraph." It is the next selection.

Selection # 2 Analysis Key - L6.1 -Punct

There is no fragment in this selection, but two semicolons do separate three "if" subordinate clauses in one 141-word main clause. It may be that, as I write this I am tired, or it may be that I am stupid, or it may be that I too have been "trained" by reading to write longer main clauses, but I cannot figure out how to decombine this sentence and arrive at essentially the same meaning. It might be interesting to have your students try, and I would be interested in considering decombined versions to put here a sentence-combining exercise.

An Adverbial Appositive Clause

Selection # 3 Analysis Key G11 L5.4 App

     Selections one and two also can be explained in terms of adverbial clauses that function as appositives, but selection three (from page 285) presents a much simpler example and thus may make a better short exercise.

A Study in Semicolons

Selection # 4 AK IG12 L6.6

     This selection (from pages 80 & 81) is an excellent model of the use of semicolons in comparison/contrast writing. It also includes a good example of parallel construction, and then a variation on that parallel pattern.

Writing Assignment

     Write a comparison contrast paper on two people whom you know (or know about) fairly well. Use semicolons, as Heilbroner did, to emphasize the contrasts.

Note for teachers: This is not a good in-class writing assignment. It will take students some time to think of the two people whom they want to compare and then it will take them time to brainstorm for similarities and differences. You might want to discuss, and have them do some of the brainstorming in class. Thus you might want to talk about the different points in Heilbroner's comparison -- their parents, their educations, where they lived, their economic status, their economic success/failure, and then their basic ideas. The paper itself might be better written out of class.