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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would like to argue with the other reviewers!
How often does a person get to argue about a book that says we argue too much! I disagree, with a smile, with the other reviewers, and think that Tannen has deepened and extended her research by focusing her linguistic talents on the broader cultural domains of politics, journalism, and academia. While some overlap with her former work regarding the difficulty in...
Published on April 7, 2002 by Jerry in Japan

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Argument Culture:From a Readers Point of View
The Argument Culture, by Deborah Tannen, is a great exploration into why we argue and how we see argument as an unavoidable aspect in our world. Tannen cites several examples of how argument is used as a weapon rather than a method of exploration into subject matter. The profuse numbers of examples cited builds a strong case for her point of view. Although I enjoyed...
Published on December 13, 1998


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would like to argue with the other reviewers!, April 7, 2002
By 
Jerry in Japan (Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Japan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words (Paperback)
How often does a person get to argue about a book that says we argue too much! I disagree, with a smile, with the other reviewers, and think that Tannen has deepened and extended her research by focusing her linguistic talents on the broader cultural domains of politics, journalism, and academia. While some overlap with her former work regarding the difficulty in communication gender, I found her other insights quite relevant and sagacious. I live and work in Japan, and I can assure you that this book has opened my eyes to look at myself and how often I approach discussions here with the argument attitude. Alfie Kohn (No Contest) and others have pointed out how our competitive attitudes are a result of the social structures that we inhabit. Tannen skillfully paints a accurate picture of the American system that reinforces and rewards arguments and acheivement. It is easy to see how easily how distrust, skepticism, and misunderstanding occurs when discussion is replaced with debate. It is easy to see too why we have become such a violent society when you have to fight to be heard. Our whole system is built on persuasion and politics, geared to attack people and their positions, not to promote cooperation and dialogue. As an academic, I can certainly identify with the one-upmanship that constantly occurs among university professors. Tannen has not covered all of the bases regarding conflict, nor needs to. I would recommend other works like Morton Deutsch's Handbook of Conflict Resolution, or Stephen Toulmin's The Uses of Argument, or Wiliam Ury's work Getting to Yes, Getting Past No for some practical applications. But this informative book takes a meta-view of American discourse and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the language we are immersed in, and offers the alternative of dialogue instead of debate as a effective way of connecting with others. I often recommend this book to Americans who are living and working overseas so they can understand how to be more relationally sensitive to cultures that are not so direct in their dealings with people. Thank you, Dr. Tannen, your illustrations and insights are enlightening!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful evidence, but what can we do to change?, October 4, 2000
By 
Jeremy Jennings (Walnut Creek, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words (Paperback)
The author compiled a powerful case against the "culture of critique" that we live in. She chronicles the emergence of an "attack dog" media from the days of Watergate, and shows the damage they do to the political process and the people who serve us in public office. She thoroughly analyzes the impact that our "agonistic" culture has had on politics, particularly the difficulty of appointing people to office and passing the media's intense scrutiny. Gender differences are covered fairly and related to our love of a good fight, our education system, and our legal system. The author finishes off the book with a host of cultural comparisons that serve to give perspectiveand offer alternatives to our "war of words" culture. The only weak point in the book is the lack of concrete methods to turn our culture in a better direction. I agree that this cynical, attacking atmosphere has gone too far, but the book doesn't address the issue of what specifically is to be done about it. Overall an intelligent, scholarly review of contemporary culture, and well worth the read. The best books leave you with new ways to see the world and this one certainly opened my eyes to what I had become blase and indifferent to.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From dialogue to war, July 24, 1999
This review is from: The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words (Paperback)
Dr. Tannen's publisher proves one of her theses within the book by retitling it in the transition from hardcover to paperback.
The change in title which in the hardcover was "The Argument Culture : Moving from Debate to Dialogue" to the paperback "The Argument Culture : Stopping America's War of Words" illustrates her claim that the media have taken a position that only battle and war are interesting and will inject the language of contention wherever possible whether or not it is true or relevant.
One reason that she may be light on suggesting solutions is that she does not have one. She is investigating an idea with its examples and relevance. With no need to battle for dominance or start a crusade, she does not need to wrap everything up in 30 second sound bites, even if the publisher thinks she should or readers demand short snappy answers.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Argument Culture:From a Readers Point of View, December 13, 1998
By A Customer
The Argument Culture, by Deborah Tannen, is a great exploration into why we argue and how we see argument as an unavoidable aspect in our world. Tannen cites several examples of how argument is used as a weapon rather than a method of exploration into subject matter. The profuse numbers of examples cited builds a strong case for her point of view. Although I enjoyed reading her book, I found her examples a bit repetitive and unnecessary. Finishing the book, I did not feel a true sense of completion and speculate others had the same feeling. Over all I would recommend reading The Argument Culture. However,I warn potential readers that this book could have been sent to the presses about 150 pages lighter and still convey the same message.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For anyone interrested in better relational standards, September 24, 1999
By A Customer
Mrs. Tannen's "The Argument Culture, Moving From Debate To Dialogue" is an exceptional work.
The book examines social interractions that elicit societal discoarse and offers alternatives that can be used toward having a more healthful commune.
I have continuously observed that the solving of social issues is crippled by a polarity complex that pits individuals or groups of people (and alternate agendas) against each other.
My belief is that our struggles in personal, professional and cultural invironments are multidemensional and much more complex than we frequently assume or are coaxed to believe. There is a certain meanness that is sweeping across the nation and the world as a whole.
This book assists us in understanding how our daily interractions as well as observations and participation either contribute to a more peaceful union or promote segrigation, hatred and widespread dissention.
Good public policy involves courteousness. Thorough examination and openness helps us to advance real, lasting resolutions.
The Argument Culture will prove to be useful in building consensus and building better relationships amongst one another--which is untimately necessary (and now often times absent)for our cultural welfare.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and thoughtful but slightly disjointed, December 22, 2000
This review is from: The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words (Paperback)
This book is quite readable but not perfect. Ms. Tannen jumps from topic to topic in short spurts, sometimes with little connection. Overall, though, this is a book that should make most people stop and think. Tannen says that we tend to frame too many things in terms of "both sides" even when there are possibly many more than two opposing possible ways of viewing a situation or idea. Even our educational system is framed in an adversarial manner, with debate and criticism being thought more intelligent than synthesis and agreement. In the last section of the book, she provides some ideas for practicing a less adversarial style: instead of having two "opposing" panelists or debaters on every talk show or in every classroom, have three or more people, to make it clear that there are not just the two extremes. If people try and make you declare yourself in one of two "warring camps," refuse to allow yourself to be shoveled into an all-or-nothing point of view.
I think this book should be on the required-reading list for dispute-resolution courses and training - and for lawyers!!
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars the book has a unbalanced feeling, November 10, 1998
By A Customer
Dr.Tannen spends the bulk of the book supporting a general thesis that the confrontational debate/argument styles of speech and communications is not always appropiate, efficient, or constructive. Her many examples become somewhat tedious as the book reads on. Having read Dr. Tannen's other works and agreeing with Dr. Tannen thesis - I wanted the book to move the process from describing the problem to suggesting solutions and describing how these solutions might work. In the last pages, She does provide some guidelines for useful dialogue. However,I found the solution short. In this respect - I was disappointed because I felt that Dr. Tannon could have written a more constructive treatment of what constitutes useful public dialogue.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Arguement Culture offers a timely, worthwhile POV., July 5, 1998
By A Customer
I really enjoyed listening to Ms. Tannen read her latest book on tape. While her view of history is cursory on the audio version, her main points are really important. Academe, politics and journalism are ill-served by simple, two-sided arguements. Having a political system that forces us to either "the left" or "the right" seems remarkably rediculous when one considers the real complexities that face us in the 21st century. In academe, the standards of debating two opposing view may have some value (such as excitement, and the focusing power of such an assignment), but traditional debate formats, as Ms. Tannen points out, are inconsistent with an authentic search for truth. Finally, she explores some of the assumptions that give us TV shows such as Crossfire and Both Sides. Essentially, these show provide entertainment, but, due to their competetive formats, nothing is ever resolved and viewers are left only confirmed in their previous points of view. Is seems as if, according to the Tannen view, Crossfire is rather like a verbal equivalent of WWF wrestling. Tannen's invocation of Peter Elbow's alternative, a "Culture of Belief," seems like a great antidote. The Arguement Culture is a very useful and inspiring resource. I recommend it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tannens culture, March 7, 2002
By 
Ria (Walnut Creek, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words (Paperback)
The argument culture is an inetresting look at our cultures obsession with arguing. Tannen, charasmatically, explores the world of the argument, and gives strong examples to prove her point. Although, the book flows well, Tannen goes too much into how we argue, and the types of argument, rather then really proposing a solution. However, Tannen is always insightful and a pleasure to read, and this book is no different.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars helpful, July 9, 1998
By A Customer
Tannen has some interesting points but they don't carry a whole book. I think anyone interested in how to fight fair and how to use anger as a tool rather than a weapon should certainly read an excellent book on this subject, THE ANGRY MARRIAGE BY DR. BONNIE MASLIN. Though this book is about couples it can offer a lot of insight into how to break the dead lock of angry patterns of behavior. After reading this book I thought of sending it to some poloticians and diplomats who could use help with destructive anger.
I can also reccommend another good book Getting to Yes, on the idea of negotiating differences.
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The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words
The Argument Culture: Stopping America's War of Words by Deborah Tannen (Paperback - February 9, 1999)
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