Robert Gottlieb, who otherwise found much to admire in John Steinbeck, argued that he was politically _________ , offering an adolescent disaffection in place of settled judgment.
Naïve, callow. “Otherwise” suggests that Gottlieb did not find Steinbeck’s political views admirable. “Adolescent disaffection” suggests that he found Steinbeck’s views in some sense immature, so let’s look for negative words that mean something like “immature.” Naïve and callow are the best options. Perspicacious and keen both suggest insight, nearly opposite of what we’ve anticipated. Contemptible is negative, but with no suggestion of immaturity—make sure to use the clues provided without adding your own ideas. (Note that naïve is sometimes written with two dots over the “i,” as in the original French, and sometimes without.)
Two months after the first shots of the American Revolution were fired, the British offered a pardon to any rebels willing to lay down arms, excepting only Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offenses the commanding British officer considered too _________ to forgive.
Flagitious, heinous. First, we read that in the view of the commanding British officer, Adams and Hancock had committed “offenses,” so we might anticipate a word like “offensive.” Second, they were the only rebels whom he would not pardon or forgive, so he considered their behavior “unpardonable, unforgivable.” If we put these all together we’ll get something like “unforgivably offensive.” Both flagitious and heinous match this meaning. Boorish means something like “crude,” but is much too weak a word to fit this sentence.
The defendant impressed the jurors as _________ : they did not believe that a woman of her education and experience could possibly be as naïve as she acted.
Disingenuous, artful. We want a word that means “not as naïve as one pretends.” Disingenuous mean precisely that, and one meaning of artful is “deceptive.” This sentence is difficult because the word impressed is used to refer to making an impression in a negative way. Finally, culpable means “guilty” and is an attractive trap, but goes further than the clues in the sentence allow us. The clues clearly indicate that we need words that mean “not naïve.”
Many Enlightenment philosophers viewed Machiavelli’s book as a satire meant to expose and caricature the _________ claims to power of the very figures Machiavelli pretended to endorse.
Specious, spurious. If Machiavelli only “pretended” to endorse the claims to power, and if they were subject to exposure and caricature, they must have been not only illegitimate but ridiculous. None of the answers suggests ridiculousness, but two answers—specious and spurious—mean the claims are false. While not synonyms, both words describe claims that are superficially attractive, but in fact false.
Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, has always been a huge ___________ of the philosophy that all information “wants to be free”; interesting, then, that his latest book retailed for $29.99, and Wired still charges for subscriptions.
Champion, proponent. The second half of this sentence (after the semicolon) tells us that Chris Anderson charges money for his products, and is introduced by an ironic “interesting.” This makes it likely that he supports the idea of information being free. Champion and proponent both imply support (detractor and critic are a pair with the opposite meaning of what we want).
After many hours of debate, things seemed to have reached ___________ , as neither side was willing to give so much as an inch, and no one had anything new to offer.
An impasse, a stalemate. If neither side of the debate is willing to give an inch to the other, then it would be impossible for a solution to be found. So the debate is more or less frozen. Both a confrontation and an engagement imply some kind of clash, but the sentence implies that any kind of serious clashing is now over (“no one had anything new to offer”). An impasse and a stalemate reflect the static nature of the conflict.
The coastline of the region plays home predominantly to a community of cosseted elites: aside from the tolerated presence of a smattering of _________ abodes, the area is practically inundated with opulent estates, which boast a variety of architectural styles from the neo-classical to the Gilded Age.
Ramshackle, dilapidated. The key to this question is the phrase “tolerated presence,” which indicates that the “abodes,” or houses, are different from the “opulent estates.” The pivot phrase “aside from” also provides a nice clue.
Ramshackle and dilapidated, which both mean “run-down,” are best. Archaic, meaning “old” or “old-fashioned,” is close, but doesn’t possess the same connotations of disrepair or neglect that the two correct answers do.
Exactly which bird species fell victim first to the deadly virus is the subject of ongoing controversy; what is known, however, is that it took but a slight mutation in the pathogen’s genetic constitution to render it lethal to _________ of related species.
Myriad, plethora. The virus spread to a large number (a myriad, a plethora) of bird species. Watch out for trap answer surplus, which means “an excess” and would not be appropriate to describe bird species.
By framing the new law as a question of urgent safety rather than of privacy, the government obviated the need to pass through the standard channels of legislation, effectively _________ all formal dissent and relegating any would-be naysayer from a position of engaged activist to that of powerless bystander.
Curtailing, undermining. By “obviating,” or “getting around,” the traditional channels of legislation, the government is making formal dissent impossible. In other words, it is curtailing or undermining such dissent—words which both mean to “prevent” or “undercut.”
From the battle’s opening volleys to its bloody conclusion, the forces of destruction razed a path through the city, ultimately leaving behind an eerie stillness where there once had been streets and squares _________ with life.
Teeming, abounding. This terrible battle seems to have killed everything (“razed,” “eerie stillness”). In contrast, the streets and squares were once full of or bustling with (that is, teeming or abounding with) life.