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The Years of Talking Dangerously Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 4, 2009
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“Full of fun little moments that should delight language mavens…. It’s the kind of book that you read, absorb, and then think about for a while afterward.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“[B]y paying attention to the changing nature of our common language, Nunberg has made it possible for us to feel less imprisoned by the idioms of the day, and perhaps more capable of creating (or at least laughing at) the idioms of tomorrow.”
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Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
In just over 50 vignettes on language and 265 pages, Nunberg offers witty and insightful reflections on the idiosyncrasies of the English language. More than anything else, he offers an "inside" (linguists') look at the closing years of the Bush administration which, with respect to word usage, offered a plethora of examples to examine. It was--just as his presidency was--perhaps, the worst case of any president in history; thus, Nunberg had a great deal of information with which to work. Nunberg's commentaries on language and politics appeared regularly on NPRs "Fresh Air," in the Sunday New York Times, and in a variety of other newspapers across the country.
In each of the vignettes throughout the book, the original location of the short essay is mentioned, whether it be a "Fresh Air Commentary" or a newspaper. Nunberg's insights offer an interesting--and sometimes provocative--insight into the culture of the Bush administration.
For me, his commentaries bring back a time that is easily and happily forgotten and along with it, the failed policies and ideas that not just reflect on a failed administration, but an administration, too, whose policies and corrupt practices (to the extent of deleting or altering scientific reports that opposed administration philosophies) that brought our society (and the world) to near total collapse. These are not pleasant memories. Just two examples were how Bush and Karl Rove used the phrase "people of faith," or how the word "values" became the property of the right.