Pub Writes

About the publishing Industry, editorials, and reviews

The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson

Posted by Caitie F on January 31, 2011

Title: The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time
Authors: Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson
Hardcover:  288 pages
Publisher: Harmony (Random House)
Year Published: 2010
ISBN: 9780307591074
Rating: +++

Summary (From goodreads)

The world needed a hero, but how would an editor with no off-switch answer the call? For Jeff Deck, the writing was literally on the wall: “NO TRESSPASSING.” In that moment, his greater purpose became clear.  Dark hordes of typos had descended upon civilization… and only he could wield the marker to defeat them.

Recruiting his friend Benjamin and other valiant companions, he created the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL). Armed with markers, chalk, and correction fluid, they circumnavigated America, righting the glaring errors displayed in grocery stores, museums, malls, restaurants, mini-golf courses, beaches, and even a national park. Jeff and Benjamin championed the cause of clear communication, blogging about their adventures transforming horor into horrorit’s into its, andcoconunut into coconut.

But at the Grand Canyon, they took one correction too far: fixing the bad grammar in a fake Native American watchtower.  The government charged them with defacing federal property  and summoned them to court—with a typo-ridden complaint that claimed that they had violated “criminal statues.” Now the press turned these paragons of punctuation into “grammar vigilantes,” airing errors about their errant errand..

The radiant dream of TEAL would not fade, though.   Beneath all those misspelled words and mislaid apostrophes, Jeff and Benjamin unearthed deeper dilemmas about education, race, history, and how we communicate. Ultimately their typo-hunting journey tells a larger story not just of proper punctuation but of the power of language and literacy—and the importance of always taking a second look.


I have very mixed feelings on this book. It took me about four weeks to read, and it was under 300 pages. It wasn’t that it was bad or not interesting, it was just that the writing style was not really for me. There were several times in the book where I felt like they were talking down to me like I was stupid. It felt a little pretentious, which always bothers me in writing, but even more in memoirs. It was more of a problem at the beginning of the book, which is why I read the last 70 pages pretty quickly last night.

Writing style to the side, I really liked the idea of their hunt and of the book about their hunt. It became so much more than just what they did, and turned into how it affected them and the people they talked to. They got into so many conversations and discussions, some good and some bad. Some things people said made me want to smack them. At an educational toy store where they would rather have an incorrect sign than one that has been fixed. And the woman though indoors should be in doors and thought the dictionary backed her up since there was a dot between the syllables. *head desk* Or the bookstore that had a Comtemporary section and didn’t care to fix it.

Luckily, for every person who didn’t care how their mistakes or typos made them look, there were people who were truly grateful for the advice and changes. It was also fascinating to read the political ramifications they received, like Keith Olbermann calling them two of the “Worst In the World” because of one article. Seriously? He made them sound evil, when they had been kind and respectful to all the people they encountered.

My other issue is at the end they get into looking at a method of teaching that has a lot of positives and negatives, but they don’t talk about ANY of the negatives and make it sound like the best thing ever…even thought it definitely is not. I wish it had stayed away from that side of the issue.

If you are interested in language and how it evolves and changes how we perceive things, you would be interested in the overall premise of the book and I know I am going to go check out their site because I would be interested in the basic cause.


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