Sir Harry Evans: Do I Make Myself Clear?

Wednesday May 17: 7:30PM 8:30PM

Writers of renown agree on the clarity, wit, and timeliness of DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR? Why Writing Well Matters, by Sir Harold Evans, one of the great editors of our time. His insistent theme is that writing well matters because words have consequences. The bursting of the housing bubble that led to the Great Recession revealed that millions had signed agreements they hadn’t understood.  Insurance policies for medical treatment or flood and wind damage turn out not to cover what the language suggests they covered. And now the attorneys general in Illinois and Washington, backed by a coalition of 27 other states, have filed lawsuits accusing Sallie Mae of subprime notoriety and its spinoff, Navient, of duping hundreds of thousands of students into accepting loans designed to fail. 

Evans calls the words that confuse and deceive people “the fog.” He writes: “Fog everywhere. Fog online and in print, fog exhaled in television studios where time is anyway too short for truth. Fog in the regulating agencies that couldn’t see the signals flashing danger in shadow banking. Fog in the pressure groups that conceal their real purpose with euphemism….The fog that envelops English is not just a question of good taste, style, and aesthetics. It is a moral issue.”  

This argument has never been more relevant.

Harold Evans is a British-born journalist and writer who edited the Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981 and the Times from 1981 to 1982. In Attacking the Devil, Netflix dramatizes his famous Sunday Times campaign exposing the negligence in the poisoning of thousands of thalidomide babies. He is an MA graduate of Durham University and was a Harkness Fellow at Chicago and Stanford Universities and a Poynter Fellow at Yale. He became an American citizen in 1993, following the trajectory of another Harkness Fellow, the late Alistair Cooke, broadcasting commentaries on America for the BBC. Evans founded and edited the prize-winning Condé Nast Traveler. He was editor-in-chief of the Atlantic Monthly Press and president and publisher of Random House, with a record of bestselling authors. He holds the British Press Awards’ Gold Award for Lifetime Achievement, and in 2001, British journalists voted him the all-time greatest British newspaper editor. He was knighted in 2003 for services to journalism. Since 2011, he has been editor-at-large for Reuters, writing political commentary and interviewing political and economic leaders.

This event is free to attend. Copies of Do I Make Myself Clear? will be available for purchase at the event. The event will take place on the Strand's second floor, in the art department, at our store at 828 Broadway at 12th Street.