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The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics Hardcover – April 14, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (April 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781592406234
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592406234
  • ASIN: 1592406238
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Punderful!"
-Ben Schott, author of Schott's Original Miscellany

"Anyone with an interest in language is going to find this book fascinating."
-David Crystal, author of How Language Works

"With his compelling narrative style, Pollack unearths hard evidence that the noble pun is much more than a literary step-child or linguistic anomaly. And as a practitioner of the art and artifice of wordplay himself, John naturally dedicates a bit of spice to peppering and assaulting us with a few subtle zingers of his zone."
-Gary Hallock, producer of the O.Henry Pun-Off World Championships

"In The Pun Also Rises, John Pollack stirs the brain and tickles the funny bone with rewording insights into why the pun is dramatically rising in our culture, and illuminates with dazzling whiz and witdom how the pun has made us who we are today."
-Richard Lederer, International Punster of the Year and author of Get Thee to a Punnery

About the Author

John Pollack is a former presidential speechwriter, the winner of the 1995 O. Henry World Championship Pun-Off, and the author of books including Cork Boat and The World on a String.

Pete Larkin is an AudioFile Earphones Award winner and a 2014 Audie Award finalist. He has worked in virtually all media. He was the public address announcer for the New York Mets from 1988 to 1993, served as host of WNEW-FM's highly rated "Saturday Morning Sixties" program, and has done hundreds of commercials, promos, and narrations. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

More About the Author

John Pollack, who won the 1995 O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships, was a Presidential Speechwriter for Bill Clinton. Earlier, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Spain, as a field assistant in Antarctica, and as a strolling violinist on Mackinac Island. His books include "The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History and Made Wordplay More than Some Antics," "Cork Boat: A True Story of the Unlikeliest Boat Ever Built," and "The World on a String: How to Become a Freelance Foreign Correspondent." He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

The book is a truly entertaining and educational piece.
bronx book nerd
I flew through this book that at times made me think deeply and at others, once again, made me laugh out loud.
Al R. Lemerande
I'm funnier - and smarter - for having read The Pun Also Rises by John Pollack.
Ann Marsh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By lisa on April 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not merely another fly-by-night volume listing a series of groaners, but the story of how puns came to be immersed in every plane of our lives - from classic literature to gourmet ice cream flavors. John Pollack pilots through a fast-paced lesson in the evolution of verbal communication, shooting down those nay-sayers who would claim that puns are the lowest form of humor. Lovers of language will cruise through this book with pleasure.

The author maneuvers skillfully through history, displaying his maverick skills with wordplay. A jester to the end, he leaves us with stingers at the turn of every page. Simultaneously a skilled professional in repartee and a scholar of the intricacies of language, John proves why he has earned the title of Top Pun.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Picky on April 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read "The Pun Also Rises" and truly enjoyed it. Pollack has certainly done his research and he presents his ideas cogently and entertainingly...his intelligent book treats its often maligned subject with the respect and wit it deserves. If you have any interest in puns, words, and humor, this is the book to read. And, as one who also read the author's excellent "Cork Boat," I can say that he has certainly "groan" as a writer.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Language Lover in NYC on April 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book isn't simply about puns. It's about language, history, and culture, and it's filled with fascinating material about everything from the way our brain processes the sound of words to the origins of the alphabet. The tone might be funny and conversational, but Pollack has a lot of interesting things to say (and he says it all economically; the book is a brief, approachable read, not some ten-pound volume you're going to get bogged down in for months). The bottom line: If you're looking for a fun book to give anyone who lingers over the meanings of words, loves Scrabble, or can't resist a good pun, this is it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stan on April 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read John Pollack's book about his part in the design and assembly of a cork boat in America, and the unexpected transport of the boat to Portugal where he, his family, and friends sailed it down a partially tamed river. That captivating story was largely about the people involved and their relationships, travails, and courage. I didn't know what to expect from him in a book about puns. Pages and pages of funny stuff? No, this is not a book of puns, it is about puns. The introduction to the book was about his personal experience in managing to gain entry into a punning contest and unexpectedly winning it. I like puns, but before I read the book I classified puns into two categories:true works of art and boring nonsense. In the introduction I learned a little about what would be allowed in a punning contest and now I feel a little more tolerant towards all types of puns. The book delves into the history, psychology,and science of punning. There are puns throughout, but they're part of the writing and not blatant attempts at punnery. You have to pay attention to find them all. The book could have fallen into the genre of "the paper clip and how it saved the world" but it is an enjoyable speculation of how the pun may be part of what makes us human, how it may have helped to shape our language, and what the latest science of the brain has to say about this. I preordered the book and when it shipped, I got an email that said that in keeping with Amazon's price protection policy, I was getting a 14 cent reduction in the price. So not only did I get a very enjopyable book about puns, but it made cents too!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ann Marsh on April 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'm funnier - and smarter - for having read The Pun Also Rises by John Pollack. From this exegesis by a true pun-master, I now possess a new repertoire of jokes and witticisms with which I've been entertaining family and friends unaccustomed to side-splitting humor coming from my side of the dinner table. So, thank you, John. But I've also learned about some of the earliest known roots of humor - from an ancient Athenian comedy club called the Group of Sixty to the prevalence of double meanings in Polynesian chants. Most revealing is Pollack's description of the role that puns have played in the development of abstract thought. If you find your sister's incessant punning groan-worthy, think again. She's displaying one of the highest orders of human intelligence. Proof of this is the difficulty researchers in Artificial Intelligence are having getting robots or computers to simulate anything like humor or satire. Take that, Watson. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it highly. It's a perfect combination of vacation reading for the summer: smart and edifying while distractingly silly and laugh-out-loud funny.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nilendu Misra on July 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a quotable compendium of great puns you will probably be disappointed. 'The Pun..' has some clever word plays, but it positions itself more on following the origin, history, semantics and social influence of puns. John Pollack, ex speech writer of Bill Clinton and 'Pun-off World Championship' winner, does intersperse some clever examples throughout, however.

Some of the most elegant puns ever made are not really bi-directional word plays ('The Dermatologist made a rash decision'; 'Archaeologist's career ends in ruin's) but often complex interplay of multiple languages or multiple domains, or even portraying completely diametric pair of meanings, perhaps in fear of a stiff authority. Sir Francis Drake messaged a single Spanish word to Queen Elizabeth after defeating Spanish Armada - 'Cantharides'. It means 'the Spanish fly'.

Samuel Johnson did not like puns much. In fact, he actively advocated against the word play type. Still, hearing a Mr. Vowell was to be hanged he could not help uttering 'It is very clear it is neither U or I' to his companion.

Puns make the language semantic flexible. It puts a mild challenge to the rigid rules of language conformity. That, per author, is the crux (or, crooks ;-)) of pun. To paraphrase, a pun is a rope connecting deep disjoint canyons in our mind. From ancient culture, politics, language development for kids, build mnemonic, articulate dissent in a totalitarian regime, to advertising and product placement (Sunmaid Resin) -- puns are an integral part of language.

Perhaps, puns are one of the few abstract components that still differentiates humans from an advancing deluge of Artificial Intelligence. The day a computer could understand the tone of 'Stephen Hawking's latest book on anti-gravity is difficult to put down' or 'Immanuel doesn't pun. He Kant' -- singularity would surely be breached.
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