A sample of Pullum's takedown.
The book's toxic mix of purism, atavism, and personal eccentricity is not underpinned by a proper grounding in English grammar. It is often so misguided that the authors appear not to notice their own egregious flouting of its own rules. They can't help it, because they don't know how to identify what they condemn.I was always more partial to Richard Mitchell, the Underground Grammarian. All his books are available online for free now. I read the first two, and especially loved Less Than Words Can Say (better advice, but the anecdotes in the The Graves of Academe are better.) I don't recall reading the other two. I should.
"Put statements in positive form," they stipulate, in a section that seeks to prevent "not" from being used as "a means of evasion."
"Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs," they insist. (The motivation of this mysterious decree remains unclear to me.)
And then, in the very next sentence, comes a negative passive clause containing three adjectives: "The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place."
That's actually not just three strikes, it's four, because in addition to contravening "positive form" and "active voice" and "nouns and verbs," it has a relative clause ("that can pull") removed from what it belongs with (the adjective), which violates another edict: "Keep related words together."
Commenter Erin (who is an English teacher) put me on to this and also sent this video. There is an American version as well, but I like this better.