Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The Devil's Dictionary
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on June 5, 2013
When Ambrose Bierce wrote his 'Cynic's Dictionary' serially for a newspaper in San Francico a century ago, he was commenting on social, political, religious, and anthropological problems he saw with what was then modern society. His mordancy, his saracasm, his refusal to compromise earned him the title, 'Bitter Bierce.' What is not a little dismaying is that many if not most of his observations could well fit today's times.
This is wit, humor and skill with the pen as best as it gets. He and Samuel Clemens were marvels of their age.
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on February 7, 2007
This is a wonderful book. It shows that Bierce was a truly modern realist with a sense of humor. Bierce's definitions were pithy and funny one hundred years ago, and they still are.

This particular edition is a reprint of Bierce's original authorized edition which is becoming hard to find. Most publishers seem to feel the need to delete some of the politically incorrect definitions that were part of the time and place of America around the turn of the twentieth century. Others can't seem to help themselves; they add their own definitions which are often not funny or clever and are nowhere near authentic. It is like having an amateur artist add a few brushstrokes, here and there, to a Rembrandt painting. This edition does not do that injustice to this wonderful book.
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on August 8, 2002
Bierce writes new defïnitions to words, in a way that is very funny and thought-provoking. By reading his definitions, you get a totally new perspective. I think his definitions can be summed up by the quote "Human beings always have two motives for everything they do. One good motive, and the real motive." This is a book to actually read from cover to cover, although it is arranged in alphabetical order. I could not stop either reading or laughing. I also recommend to mark your favourites as you go through the book, as you will want to read them to friends or use in e-mail.
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on June 13, 2002
for any budding humorist or slayer of sacred cows. Bierce punctures pretensions, lampoons customs, and gleefully laughs heartily at the human race and late 19th/early 20th century culture in general. Clever and sublime definitions of everything from birth and youth, to dining, drinking, divorce and death. Occasionally you won't get one or two of the references to the time period this was written, but use the context and try to catch the punchlines of a man who should be more celebrated as an American treasure ranking with Twain.
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on February 10, 2016
Ambrose Bierce didn't write this dictionary. Instead, his definitions were filler for newspapers, later collected and published aw a dictionary. That's an importabt distinction, for he made no effort to write a complete dictionary, and he was writing in the context of current events that are no longer current.

He includes a lot of poetry written by poets I've never heard of. Sometimes, it's more interesting than other times, and i wonder if that's because this was authored more than a century ago. The fact that so many definitions are still current and amusing gives us a perspective on history - the fact that human nature hasn't changed, that politicians and preachers and businessmen were pretty much the same then as now. Is it fair to critique a book for how masterfully it enhances our understanding of human nature, even though that wasn't the author's avowed purpose?

This book can be incredibly boring at times, and brilliant at other times. If i were teaching college freshmen, though, I'd make this book required reading.
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on November 21, 2010
The content is wonderful and clever, however this particular edition's shortcomings outweigh all that. The formatting is off and the spacing is awful several words are missing.
You'd be better off with a better edition.
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on November 17, 2010
I returned this book, or should I say pamphlet. It looked like a photocopy of typescript. I guess I could have lived with it since I wanted the content, but the printing was very gray and hard to read.
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on September 2, 2013
Have several copies of this extraordinary American Classic ( I often give them as gifts ) & wanted a beautifully bound copy for my permanent collection. This volume filled the bill & then some - I just love it !
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on July 7, 2008
The Devil's Dictionary / 0-19-512627-0

DICTIONARY, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.

This "dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce is witty, scathing, and totally hilarious. In his characteristic style, he dishes out his contempt and distaste for those societal norms which he sees as foolish, hypocritical, and dangerous. This is not a book to read, but truly a dictionary to reference whenever the mood takes. The aphorisms ring true, even today, and the only real complaint is that we would wish for so much more - the dictionary is "only" 219 pages long, and while that is quite a fair lot of words, if only he had left us even more...

~ Ana Mardoll
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Webster's this ain't. Ambrose Bierce, a very angry and witty man, wrote down his personal definitions (1881 to 1906) of various things and concepts, which were eventually compiled into "The Devil's Dictionary." The result is immensely funny in a twisted kind of way.
A bigot is "one who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not share." Disobedience is "the silver lining on the cloud of servitude." Brute is "see: Husband." Patience is "a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue." Philosophy is "a route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing." And that's just a few...
Weirdly funny, twistingly witty. It's an enjoyable, very politically-incorrect book that will be over before you want it to be.
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