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Chomsky For Beginners Paperback – August 21, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: For Beginners
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: For Beginners (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193438917X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934389171
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Cogswell is a writer based in Hoboken, N.J. He has written thousands of articles on business, travel, politics, and the arts for various print and online publications, including Democratic Underground, Bushwatch, Prison Planet, Indymedia.org, Fortune.com, Travel Weekly, the Hudson Current, and the Jersey Journal. He has contributed pieces to a number of political books, including Fortunate Son, The Making of an American President, by J.H. Hatfield; Ambushed: The Hidden History of the Bush Family by Toby Rogers; and America's Autopsy Report, by John Kaminski. He's the publisher of the political and media commentary website HeadBlast (www.davidcogswell.com), which was banned in China and named as a notable antiwar website by The Guardian.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on May 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm torn between two sets of reactions to Cogswell's book. On the one hand, I find it simplistic in places--especially the section on Chomsky's linguistics. On the other hand, Chomsky's "deep grammar" model is notoriously difficult, and this book doesn't claim to be anything more than a "beginner's" guide. So perhaps this is an excusable flaw.
Besides, it's probably the case that curiosity about generative/transformative linguistics isn't what draws most readers to this book. My guess is that they're primarily interested in Chomsky the political/cultural commentator and activist. To that end, the book does a much better (although still bare-bones) job of presenting the basics of Chomsky's criticism of the media and his concern that politics is just an extension of corporate interests. Along the way, it discusses Chomsky's 1966 article "The Responsibility of Intellectuals" and his 1980s book "Manufacturing Consent." The former, in my opinion one of the best pieces Chomsky's ever written, ought to be required annual reading for every academic in the country. It might go a long way toward infusing some life into the moribund Ivory Tower (and I speak as one of the Tower's inhabitants). The second, an expose of media bias, has never been topped as the authoritative analysis of how the media is structurally untrustworthy. Information is just another commodity in our commodity-driven culture, and is fashioned and sold in order to fit the tastes of the consumer and bring in profits to the manufacturer. To read *Manufacturing Consent* is to begin the process of seeing the world through one's own eyes, rather than through the eyes of the media.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Parodi TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 28, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
CHOMSKY FOR BEGINNERS will be of help to anyone interested in the works of Noam Chomsky. It is true that the focus of the book is mainly on his work in political science, but I think that is logical since that is what he is most famous for, outside of scientific circles at least. And while the description of his work in linguistics is certainly brief and relatively superficial, I have to humbly admit that even at that rate it was over my head - I've had to re-read that section several times, and I still don't think I quite get it.

I know that as a "serious" student of his works, I am supposed to be somewhat offended by the depiction of Chomsky as a superhero cartoon character with an "N" on his shirt. But to be honest, I kind of liked the cartoons. Chomsky's work and intellect are often so astonishing that it can be a bit intimidating. I mean, this man has been referred to as "arguably the most important living intellectual," "maybe the smartest man in the world," and ranks just behind Plato and Freud on the list of the most-quoted authors; Chomsky is the most-quoted living author. It's hard to imagine, to "image," this remarkable man and his remarkable career. Within the course of the answer to a three-sentence question, Chomsky will often reference history - off of the top of his head - going back five centuries. This can be overwhelming, and it can seem a bit intangible. Also, as CHOMSKY FOR BEGINNERS details, his double career and path to it is very unconventional. Somehow, seeing somewhat crudely drawn cartoons of Chomsky throughout his career gives me something tangible to interpret, to relate to. I've heard that it is an aspect of human cognitive abilities to need symbols in the quest to understand a given topic.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Scott on July 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is definitely an interesting bathroom book. Take Noam Chomsky, social irritant and world-renowned Linguistics expert, and tell his story in a documentary comic book. Add some background information about the science of Linguistics as well as plenty of info about the American Capitalist machine, and you got quite an interesting read that you can pick up and put down whenever you're up for a quick paragraph or two.
Noam Chomsky isn't that well known. And that's because the powers that be want it that way. Chomsky's goal in life is to open the eyes and ears of the American public so that they'll take a better look around once in a while and see what's really going on. He takes on capitalism and the American government all the time. And because the American media machine is owned by some big corporations, don't expect to be hearing anything soon from the man, unless you crawl out from under the big money umbrella and dig around a bit.
I think that most people will ignore him, not because they don't believe what he has to say, but because they are afraid of the truth. They like to go along making their money, spending it the same thinking that all is fine in the world and that good ol' USA will carry the burdens of freedom and Democracy as it's fights the evils of the world. But that's just not the way it is. The truth is a lot darker than that. Yes, America once stood for democracy and greatness. But it lost it's direction along the way when the dollar signs floated in front of it's eyes.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Silver on October 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Noam Chomsky is renowned for his work in both linguistics and sociogeopolitics (for want of a better term). Although Chomsky's own writings often deal with profound and difficult to master ideas, 'Chomsky for Begginers' offers a superb introduction to this leading intellectual.
The book is light hearted and witty, but not patronizing, and the reader will at the very least come away with a critical view of world events and an admiration for Chomsky's breadth of knowledge.
One of Chomsky's ideas, that most international conflicts can be shown to have at their root a major corporation using government to effect a country's stability for their own ends, had a profound impact on how I now view current events. One might not agree with what Chomsky has to say about the nature of linguistics, society, the media or world events; but, at the very least this book forces one to think about things with a far more critical, if not quite synical, eye.
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