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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book provides clear, 'simple but not simplistic' frameworks for engaging in more constructive dialog about the issues that matter most."-- Andy Lee Roth, YES! Magazine

"At the moment, what passes for political debate is the bickering of two vociferous and wrong-headed parties. Robert Jensen reacquaints us with the political and social skills we'll need if we’re to reclaim politics for the 21st century. This is a brave book, one that packs more wisdom in its few pages than a shelf’s worth of political theory, because it’s also a book about political practice. Jensen patiently, honestly, and rigorously exemplifies the highest virtues of a public intellectual."--Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System

"A potent attack on the rabid, irrational saber-rattling that passes for political and social discourse today, Arguing for Our Lives is a cogent, closely argued, sober, yet passionate call for ordinary men and women to help save our democracy by reclaiming our intellect, by honing our powers of rational argumentation."--Tirdad Derakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer

"A pamphlet in the classic sense of all good-hearted propaganda, Arguing For Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialog, addresses America’s fear of intellectualism and the trepidation many people (including Dr. Jensen’s journalism students) feel about claiming the very achievable title of critical thinker."-- Roberto Ontiveros, San Antonio Current

"Do you completely trust the sensational, sound-byte driven news and polarized politicians who never seem to say anything at all, unless it is a totally frightening slip? In a time when public discourse is rife with big-money propaganda, we need to work even harder to think and communicate clearly. While Jensen has honed his critical thinking years over two decades in the classroom, this is a jargon-free book that will enable you to, in the here and now, make small, meaningful steps toward a better world."--Alexis Coe, SF Weekly

"Robert Jensen has long been one of the most vocal iconoclasts in Austin and the country, someone who isn’t afraid to eloquently state his politics even when the national temperature would keep most people out of the kitchen. . . . His latest book, Arguing for Our Lives, acts as a guidebook to rhetoric and our popular dialogues indicting ideas of neutrality, stilted notions of 'being political', but also encouraging us to passionately discuss the things we’re not supposed to in polite company. Jensen salvages the word 'intellectual' from its present nadir, demystifies the application of critical thinking skills to everyday problems, and shows how ideology and politicization are inevitable products of point of view; the more visible we can make them, the more honest the conversations we can begin to have. It’s a fascinating read that explains his own personal teaching philosophy, while exposing the ways in which our language can shroud our intents and content."--Austin Chronicle

"The first date or dinner party taboo is famous: 'No religion, no politics.' Debating, discussion, engagement with ideas that matter—these are all supposed to be left to professionals, specialists who talk to each other in mutually incomprehensible ways. Meanwhile decades of advertising, sound bites, PR, filtered information, and internet trolling have numbed us even more. But we don't have to live this way. We could immediately start living in a better world, one in which every conversation was an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, others,and the precious little world we all have to try to live on together. To do that, though, we would have to re-learn how to think and talk, how to agree and disagree. Robert Jensen's Arguing For Our Lives can help us do that." -- Justin Podur, Associate Professor, York University and author of Haiti's New Dictatorship, (Pluto Press 2012)

"Arguing for Our Lives is a crucial book for reclaiming not only the pedagogical and political virtues of critical thinking, but for securing the foundations for critical agency and engaged citizenship. This is an indispensable book for students, educators, and others willing to fight the current ongoing assault by religious, political, and moral fundamentalists on critical thought, if not reason itself, that has engulfed American politics. Everyone should read Arguing for Our Lives if they believe there is a connection between how we think and how we act, how we understand democracy and how we experience and struggle for it." -- Henry Giroux, author of Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Politics in the Age of Disposability (Paradigm, 2012) and Disposable Youth (Routledge 2012)

About the Author

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a founding board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. He is the author of All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice; Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity; The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege; Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity; and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream. Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film “Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing.”
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872865738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872865730
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #440,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Jensen is a professor of media law, ethics and politics at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream, among other books. He also writes for popular media, and his opinion and analytic pieces on foreign policy, politics and race have appeared in papers and magazines throughout the United States.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lynne M. Baab on June 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
I very much appreciate this glimpse into the convictions and interests of a fascinating man. Because Jensen has been an activist for many years, he understands a lot of what makes humans being tick. Because he has also taught journalism for much of his life, he understands news media. My favorite chapter in the book discussed how to think critically about news media. He explained how the term "objectivity" is defined by people in news media (usually as drawing on government and industry sources for information!), and he described the blurry boundary between propaganda and persuasion. The principles he laid out earlier in the book, about how to think critically about diverse cultural issues, were well illustrated in his chapter on news media.

Jensen encourages us to think critically in three ways - philosophically, historically and sociologically - about three areas of life - the personal, the societal and the ecological. He models what that might look like in his chapters on thinking critically about politics, religion and news media. He believes we live in an age of anxiety, which he describes very vividly, and he believes that thinking critically will help us move from anxiety to anguish, which he views as a more productive way to live.

Another favorite part of the book was an extended interview with Abe Osheroff, a life-long activist, who said in the interview that there are only two things you can give away without having less of afterwards, and those two things are love and affection. Osherhoff said that's why we need to value love and affection, and do what we can to build communities where people can connect with each other, rather than seek after material comfort.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Viajero on May 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
A simple yet powerful book from this wise man. Lots of practical examples of how to approach difficult issues that we face as citizens of the planet. Jensen offers a fresh approach to dialogue in a world consumed with sensationalism and binary thinking.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By H. Ivan Hentschel on June 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
If you have even the slightest inkling that all is not well with our society (and the planet), you should soon read this thin, eloquent volume of required contemporary wisdom. The logic and language are both concise and clear, and the book quite matter-of-factly describes the development of, and the dangers that result from, non-critical thinking and poorly informed opinions. The author makes a very clear-cut case for the need to move more toward societal dialogue, and away from argument, and away from the age of anxiety and on toward one of, what he describes as, useful "anguish". You may not agree entirely but than that is the whole point, is it not?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Capricorn on July 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jensen moves beyond the abstract and applies critical thinking skills and theories to major concerns in today's world. It is a useful and insightful book, a rich source for the reader who wishes to make wise, informed decisions when facing the challenges posed by religion, politics, and personal relations. The text is highly readable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pat Pfeifer on February 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This should be required reading for all citizens Thought provoking. a wake up call. Start the conversation.. If not now, when.
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