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Unspeak: How Words Become Weapons, How Weapons Become a Message, and How That Message Becomes Reality Paperback – May 10, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the rarest kind of book that reflects a monumental concentration of thought and creative energy - a striking contrast to most books today, which are written fighting the distractions of the author's other work, or as a "night job". I don't know how Poole pulled off this feat - or if Unspeak actually had the benefit of his undivided attention - but that's the way his book reads.
Reviewers who have only skimmed the text are making two serious mistakes in their descriptions of Unspeak. Contrary to what Nick Beard (customer review, below) says, the book is not remotely a magazine article on stilts. True, its big idea, though subtle, can be swiftly summarised as "a style of language that attempts to smuggle in an unspoken argument by insinuation." But the Socratic method can also be shrunk to a nugget, yet learning how Socratic dialogue works requires exposition, examples - and practice.
The worse mistake is casting the author as a prisoner of left-wing thinking. In fact, what Poole demonstrates - often with lacerating wit - is that the Left is just as adept at Unspeak's creepy manipulations, as in . . .
** . . . US and UK politicians' use of the word "community" in ways that, on close examination, add up to a "mental anaesthetic, novocaine for the soul.Read more ›
Poole brilliantly contrasts reality and deceptions across many different areas. The phrase `faith communities' defines the people referred to as united monolithically and for ever by their beliefs. `Human nature' is code for misanthropic pessimism about human affairs, so war is said to symbolise `the depravity of human nature'.
On climate change, Greenpeace's chief scientist preferred the frightener `climate meltdown'. Corporations, religious and commercial, use advertising slogans like `Intelligent Design' (more accurately, Implicit Deism), `sound science', `natural' gas and `organic' produce.
Operations Merciful Angel (Kosovo), Just Cause (Panama) and Iraqi Freedom - such cute names! - `serviced' targets and `delivered' force packages: hardly killing people at all. NATO's weapons are always `smart' and `surgical'. NATO forces drop sweet little `bomblets' and playful `daisy cutters'. So the inevitable killings of civilians, women and children can only be `tragic mistakes', or not even the slaughter of civilians, women or children: as the US Army spokesman said, "If it's dead and Vietnamese, it's VC." By contrast, the enemy's weapons are nothing less than Weapons of Mass Destruction, with big capital letters, so they are much more frightening than our puny bombers and aircraft carriers and tanks.Read more ›
Poole jumps right in by examining the familiar phrases "pro-choice", "tax relief", and "Friends of the Earth". He points out that choice, relief, and friendship are all considered good things under almost all circumstances, so these phrases are calculated to receive almost automatic approval before any process of analytical thought even begins. Often, indeed, they may completely foreclose the possibility of rational analysis, triggering knee-jerk emotional reactions (favourable ones in these three cases). You might feel, on consideration, that abortion is not always justifiable; or that taxes should not be cut; or that the Friends of the Earth may have done things that you would not approve of. But the names "pro-choice", "tax relief", and "Friends of the Earth" are calculated to stop you short before you do any considering. This is what Poole means by "Unspeak" - language that smuggles in a particular point of view and prevents alternative thoughts from even getting a foothold.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A little windy and self important, but the research and connect-the-dots get you to think. Is author breaking new ground or causing you to think differently? Nope. Read morePublished 14 months ago by A. Borakove
I was excited about the description of this book, as I have been trying to grasp the sterile, pseudo-intellectual, vapor-speak of contemporary culture; the tendency to offer an... Read morePublished 18 months ago by REP
How spinmeisters bamboozle the public with words. This comprehensive analysis gives you the lowdown on those clever word twisters who twist the truth into lies and lies into the... Read morePublished on November 28, 2012 by david milne
This book is everything that is wrong with political nonfiction. It COULD have been a good book had it stood up without bias and examined the way bureaucrats and politicians of... Read morePublished on August 28, 2009 by Brian Lee Mulholland
Mr Poole is an angry man, he has serious issues with a lot of the abuse of language that is being perpetuated by politicians at the moment. Read morePublished on December 4, 2007 by Wyvernfriend