Chomsky's *Syntactic Structures* is legendary today for its being the founding document in the field of generative grammar; but this is to say that the many theses of this book are poorly understood from a distance. Originally the student of Bloomfieldian Zellig Harris, Chomsky released this work after many years in Cambridge, Mass.; and although the traditional concerns of structuralist linguistics are well-represented in Chomsky's work, here this is through an engagement with the work of Willard van Orman Quine which has to my mind never been fully extracted. Chomsky took Quinean scruples concerning the "theory of meaning" as a guide for syntactic theory, namely as the extent to which an adequate syntax for natural language must "sin" against the strictures of compositionality embodied in formal languages; and although his strategy here has had its fans, the "stepwise" construction of his argument and its import have to my knowledge never been fully addressed. Beginning with an immensely convincing case against the Markovian logic implicit in cybernetic analyses of communication, Chomsky sketches the extent to which various "rigorizations" of the communicative upshot of utterances (visions of the "speaker-hearer circuit" literally displayed by Saussure) fail to capture the grammatical articulation of sentences, and this in a *theoretically constitutive* way. The fate of each such "fail-safe" demonstrates the extent to which the "story about the story", the speaker's implicit grammar, serves an empirically regulative function (i.e., is palpably part of the observable activity of "reasoned" discourse); and this is presented in a theoretical vocabulary so lean as to have invited further formalization beyond the "core" theory's subsequent refinements by Chomsky and students. In other words, this is essential reading for anyone trafficking in linguistic "transitions" of any kind: simply reaffirming a hostility to "Enlightenment commonplaces" will not relieve the researcher of the theoretical burdens imposed by the well-nigh-unavoidable desiderata of theoretical adequacy both explicit and implicit here. This is not a "what-if" narrative, concerning an alternate history for linguistic theory: this is just-so stuff which should constrain your understanding of what is already the case, and in no very "normative" way (though individuals primarily concerned with Chomsky's politics can easily absolve themselves of responsibility for linguistic theory by ignoring it). A true classic.