Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense” as Want to Read:
The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  249 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
A long and distinguished tradition of writers have used the form of a satirical dictionary to undermine the received ideas of their day. Voltaire wrote a sharply humorous "Philosophical Dictionary," while Samuel Johnson's dictionary of the English language was derisive and opinionated. These early dictionaries and encyclopedias were really weapons in a struggle for the sou ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published November 6th 2012 by Free Press (first published October 11th 1994)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Doubter's Companion, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Doubter's Companion

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Rob
Jul 19, 2007 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any one who likes to think
This is a damned interesting and amusing book.

It's a dictionary in the same vein as Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary. It ruminates on the meaning of words and phrases rather than sets the meaning in stone. The author makes it very clear that this is his opinion and not The Truth.

Here's an example:

ERROR Error is the result of a particular human strength: the ability to act in an unprogrammed, that is illogical, that is conscious, manner, by thinking and communicating unconventional thoughts. To er
...more
Nick
Mar 06, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My wife was concerned, when she bought it for me as a birthday present, that this would turn out to be some kind of Daily Mail-esque grumpy old men nonsense about how everyone except the author is some kind of namby pamby idiot.
In fact, this book is more of the opposite. The central theme of this book is balance and the importance of doubt, and the perils of not having any. Covers a wide range of subjects, from capitalism to dessert.
Mark Desrosiers
Imagine Keats's negative capability being put to practical political and economic use. Too bad we Americans don't read Canadian writers, because if this book were as omnipresent as Freakonomics hereabouts, the world would be an entirely different place. Essential.
Maggiemuggins
Feb 12, 2017 Maggiemuggins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Considered "Canada's leading public intellectual", declared a 'prophet' by TIME magazine, Saul was also included in the Utne Reader's 1995 cover story list of "100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life," during the interview for which he is reported as saying: "You will be digital, privatized, and obedient to the modern economy . . . or you will be nothing."

So why, given the publication date of this book, are we still, more than twenty years later, in the same mess against which he railed? And
...more
Colin
Jan 20, 2008 Colin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a fresh point of view
In case the subtitle left any doubt, this book is delivered in a dictionary format. It's not the kind of book I read cover-to-cover, but one I dip into from time-to-time, just to read a few entries. The definitions are simultaneously acts of political and social protest, and acts of radical clarity (in a time when mere clarity is far too radical). Hilarious at times, cutting at other times, and always sharp, this book defines "strong authorial point-of-view."
Mark
May 15, 2015 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad by any means, but Saul definitely had more fun writing this smartass dictionary than I did reading it. A lot of the ideas here are just retreads of what he already went over, to great effect, in Voltaire's Bastards, and as much as that book demands some organized manner of picking through its many ideas and anecdotes, it'd be better served through adding an index to that one than the spinoff we've got here.


The definition for Florida is hilarious.
Vince
Oct 24, 2016 Vince added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Saul's text follows the form of a brief encyclopedia, offering critical commentary and unique takes on familiar terms. Not really meant to be read cover to cover, I picked at a few entries and either appreciated his angle or found the tone condescending. I've dabbled lightly in Saul's philosophy and intend to do so again, at some point.

Did not finish.
Michael
A great compendium of non-normative definitions of key words used often.

Not exactly a book to read from the first page to the last, but an enjoyable index.

Some of the definitions are redundant and vague, but all in all The Doubter's Companion is a great supplement to the most common buzz words.
Leftbanker
Sep 21, 2007 Leftbanker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yo mama
A brilliant dictionary, à la Voltaire, by the most astute thinker on all things political, economic, and cultural that I have read in my lifetime. My favorite definition is how he calls the Big Mac the communion wafer of capitalism. Reading Saul can be very frustrating because he challenges so many truths that I once held...unchallengeable.
Lenna
Aug 29, 2007 Lenna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Liberate yourself from the tyranny of language!

Not that reading this book will do that but it is great fun. A dictionary of modern political and social terms without the usual bullshit.... It's a different set of bullshit.
Nelson
Nov 06, 2014 Nelson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este libro es el Diccionario del Diablo y su autor el Ambrocio Bierce de este siglo. Imposible no reírte y preocuparte al mismo tiempo.
David Rankin
Jun 26, 2013 David Rankin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun book I go back to from time to time.
Mercy Ananeh-Frempong
Humorous, Insightful, refreshing, excellent!
Anne Marshall
Mar 15, 2008 Anne Marshall rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Couldn't really get into it.
Guy
Nov 11, 2009 Guy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: multiple-reads
A delight!
Clivemichael
Excellent, thought provoking and stimulating perspectives. Entertaining
Jose Alguacil
Jan 25, 2014 Jose Alguacil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una de las mejores lecturas de toda mi vida. Una guía para cuestionarlo todo y por tanto replantear cuestiones esenciales. Siempre con un humor cínico y sabio.
Un 10.
Yves
Nov 19, 2015 Yves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written quite differently I found it both amusing and at times thought provoking.
H Wesselius
Jul 26, 2011 H Wesselius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun to read but not worth the money
James
James rated it really liked it
Jun 04, 2012
Shannon
Shannon rated it really liked it
Dec 12, 2012
John
John rated it it was amazing
Aug 22, 2012
Luke
Luke rated it liked it
Jan 23, 2013
Christopher
Christopher rated it liked it
Mar 12, 2012
Phil
Phil rated it it was amazing
Jan 26, 2014
Collin
Collin rated it it was amazing
Sep 10, 2015
Terry
Terry rated it liked it
Oct 03, 2014
Test
Test rated it liked it
Sep 12, 2015
Elivn
Elivn rated it really liked it
Feb 11, 2014
Ray
Ray rated it really liked it
Dec 28, 2011
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and the Stifling of Democracy
  • The Permanent Revolution, Results and Prospects
  • Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict
  • Juno Beach: Canada's D-Day Victory, June 6, 1944
  • The Liberal Defence of Murder
  • Climate Wars
  • The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea
  • The Utterly, Completely, And Totally Useless Fact-o-pedia
  • A Voice from the Attic: Essays on the Art of Reading
  • The Social Contract & Other Later Political Writings (Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • The Winds of Change: Climate, Weather, and the Destruction of Civilizations
  • The Reenchantment of the World
  • Great Lakes Shipwrecks & Survivals
  • The Accumulation of Freedom: Writings on Anarchist Economics
  • On Old Age, On Friendship & On Divination
  • Socialism
  • Party of One
  • Death Sentences: How Cliches, Weasel Words and Management-Speak Are Strangling Public Language
4392
John Ralston Saul is a Canadian author, essayist, and President of International PEN. As an essayist, Saul is particularly known for his commentaries on the nature of individualism, citizenship and the public good; the failures of manager-, or more precisely technocrat-, led societies; the confusion between leadership and managerialism; military strategy, in particular irregular warfare; the role ...more
More about John Ralston Saul...

Share This Book



“Like other ideologies, that of free trade contains unspoken contempt for the individual citizen. It is a despairing response to the complexities of the real world and the politics of despair always replace choice with inevitability. Indeed despair is the natural tone of economists when they are selling their theories of salvation.” 1 likes
“While these organized interest groups argue, most people ask themselves why they must always be presented with religious options? Why must they identify the single pure truth in order to avoid an apocalypse? Is there any difference between Vladimir Lenin the communist, Mikhail Makunin the anarchist and Milton Friedman the marketist? No. All three are ideologues.

Like other ideologies, that of free trade contains unspoken contempt for the individual citizen. It is a despairing response to the complexities of the real world and the politics of despair always replace choice with inevitability. Indeed despair is the natural tone of economists when they are selling their theories of salvation.”
0 likes
More quotes…