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

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  196 ratings  ·  13 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)
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Rob
Jul 19, 2007 Rob rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Clivemichael Justice
Excellent, thought provoking and stimulating perspectives. Entertaining
Colin
Jan 20, 2008 Colin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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."
Nick
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.
Leftbanker
Sep 21, 2007 Leftbanker rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yo mama
Shelves: economics
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.
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.
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.
Lenna
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.
Robin
Mar 12, 2008 Robin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who don't like to question authority
This book was pretty much preaching to the choir, but it does reinforce that words have so many meanings and those meanings can be changed if we want to change them.
David Rankin
Fun book I go back to from time to time.
H Wesselius
Fun to read but not worth the money
Anne Marshall
Couldn't really get into it.
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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
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