Amusing Ourselves to Death

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Book - 2006
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What happens when media and politics become forms of entertainment? As our world begins to look more and more like Orwell's 1984 , Neil's Postman's essential guide to the modern media is more relevant than ever.

"It's unlikely that Trump has ever read  Amusing Ourselves to Death , but his ascent would not have surprised Postman." - CNN

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman's groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media--from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs--it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of  entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining control of our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.

"A brilliant, powerful, and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one." -Jonathan Yardley,  The Washington Post Book World
Publisher: New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Penguin Books, 2006, c1985
Edition: 20th anniversary edition.
ISBN: 9780143036531
Branch Call Number: 302.234 POS
Characteristics: viii, 184 p. ; 20 cm


From the critics

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Aug 11, 2017

In George Orwell's book '1984' (written in 1949) his anxiety was that books would be burnt to avoid 'heresies' being spread among the citizens; earlier (1931) Aldous Huxley had written his 'Brave New World', with its thesis that books would not need to be burnt, because no one would read them - we would be 'amusing ourselves to death'. In 2017 it looks as if Huxley made the better bet. Almost unheard of in the publishing of this sort of book, this ''20th anniversary edition'' of Neil Postman's enduring and far-sighted analysis was published in 2005. The original was written in 1985 when television was the 'enemy', but it is even more relevant today in the age of Twitter, Facebook and the others.

May 27, 2017

A relatively short book, but it was coherent and concise, without losing any elegance. Its points are still valuable and can be implemented; sad to say, but much of the use of the web (aka internet) is not much different from that of TV, indeed, its largely replaced and improved (if thats the right word) upon TV, and smartphones are just a Gameboy, computer, telephone, and Walkman all in one and souped up on digital steroids. Some of the questions that it explicitly asks on page 84 and near the end of the book can be fruitfully adapted to lead an enquiry into these new types of communication.

Jun 14, 2016

I don't know why I waited so long to read this. It is very well done. But maybe because I wasn't watching TV for many of the years since it was published, that might be why I felt I didn't need to read it. Recently, I have watched some TV, and really appreciate Postman's critique. We are not as literate these days as we used to be, in large part because of television. Turn it off. Reading is healthier.

Nov 14, 2014

Although written in the 80's this book is even more relevant now. Orwell was concerned about a totalitarian regime taking our liberties. Huxley was concerned about us just not paying attention as we get lost in hedonism. Postman agreed with Huxley and seems to have been proven right. TV has been made mobile with technology which has made the issues even worse. When everything (news, politics, education and religion) is entertainment is there ever a place for something that is important, but is not entertainment? As we move away from print media our ability to follow congruent thoughts is diminishing. This might be a skill we need given the challenges we are facing.

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