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The Choking Doberman: And Other Urban Legends Paperback – December 17, 2003


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The Choking Doberman: And Other Urban Legends + The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings + Encyclopedia of Urban Legends
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (December 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393303217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393303216
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is a fascinating book, but I still say all those stories actually happened to the mother of a friend of mine's doctor's wife.” (Roy Blount Jr.)

About the Author

Jan Harold Brunvand lives in Salt Lake City, where he is professor emeritus at the University of Utah. He is the author of numerous books, including The Vanishing Hitchhiker; The Choking Doberman; The Baby Train; Too Good to Be True; and Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "snopes" on October 8, 1997
Format: Paperback
The Choking Doberman (1984) is folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand's follow-up to The Vanishing Hitchhiker. Unlike that previous work, however, The Choking Doberman is less didactic and more just plain fun, with newer stories, a wider variety of legends, and less academic analysis. Highly recommended for general audiences.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelly J. Snowden on March 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Choking Doberman, the second in a series of books examining urban legend and folklore, is a rare find not only for its attention to the friend-of-a-friend stories that we've all heard, but also for its perhaps unintended window into the evolution of modern legends. Written in 1986, the myths and legends regarding computers and other modern inventions reviewed in the book, as well as the means by which such stories were disseminated, reflect the growing influence of information technology -- old legends about "cable lice" proliferating in phone or power cables have given way to doomsday viruses and other computer-age legends. I also was amused to discover so many legends being integrated into movies and television, such as the "baby on the car roof" (Raising Arizona), the woman who punishes her philandering husband with superglue (Reservoir Dogs), etc. Just goes to show that a good story always deserves a retelling.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because the title was too strange to pass up. I found it to be thought-provoking and very well written. Although it's not a scary-story book, and the author proved all the legends weren't true, I didn't get any sleep the night after I read it! If you like spooky books, I highly reccomend "The Choking Doberman."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1997
Format: Paperback
I read this book first for a college course, and bought a copy when one of my kids came home with a story beginning "My friend has this friend who..." It's great for teaching your kids (8 and up!) not to be gullible, and to appreciate folklore for what it is. A good "feel" for these kinds of stories can help identify slick sales pitches as well as the urban folklore that circulates in school and camp. Also a thoroughly enjoyable read for adults
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Format: Paperback
Jan Harold Brunvand wrote this book as a follow-up to his best-selling The Vanishing Hitchhiker. Unlike the previous volume, it is less about teaching us about the common forms of these stories and the motivations and mental processes that shape them. This book just tells interesting, and mostly untrue stories that were circulating in the early eighties.

The book begins with "The Choking Doberman" about a dog owner realizing she has narrowly escaped an attack when she discovers the would-be attacker's severed fingers stuck in her dog's throat. The several variations of this story have recurring elements in common--including our sympathy for the dog. (Moral: Always chew your food.) Other stories are organized into familiar categories of vehicles, horror, contaminations, sex, and the media.

A few favorites:

- Carpet installers "hammer down" a lump under a new carpet. Nobody can find the canary...
- A medical student is assigned his late aunt's cadaver to dissect in anatomy class.
- A man leaves a urine specimen in a whiskey bottle in his car. Somebody steals it.
- A police officer giving a lecture to middle-school students passes around a plate with a joint on it "so you will know what one looks like." It comes back with half a dozen joints.
- Various illnesses are caused by computer "cable lice" whose bites are too small to be seen.

The stories are entertaining and their debunking is instructive. The book does show it's age in that many of the stories seem no longer to be in circulation.
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