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Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times- Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show
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Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times- Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  172 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Geoffrey Nunberg breaks new ground with this fierce and funny narrative of how the political right has ushered in a new world order, aided unwittingly by the liberal media. Democrats are well known for their "lousy bumper stickers," as Joe Klein puts it. As liberals wade through the semantics of "social security lockbox," "single payer," and other wonky locutions, the righ ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 3rd 2006 by PublicAffairs
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This was my "employee pick" while working at a rather elite bookstore on an even more elite street in Boston. Given those conditions, you'd think my recommendation would have garnered some more interest. But 2006 was an "off" year for politics (more like...a year in which we further embraced complacency.) Too bad, because this book is illuminating insofar as it explains how the party of the rich cleverly disgused themselves as the party of the common man by using lingustic tricks. (And, converse ...more
Mary Pellecchia
Nov 04, 2007 Mary Pellecchia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: LIBERALS!
The author does a very incisive job of outlining how conservatives (not sensible conservatives, but nutbar conservatives) have dominated the general messages in this country by dominating the media, staying on message with more rigidity than the Nazi army, and creating a very loud echo chamber. They would like to convince first themselves, then the rest of the country, then the rest of the world, that America was founded as a conservative country and therefore must continue as such to be true to ...more
Over the years, linguist Geoffrey Nunberg has written numerous pieces on the culture of words for Fresh Air and the New York Times. This book is a more extensive essay on the role that certain words, vague in meaning but rich in emotional connotation, have played in the ascendancy of American political conservatism. You know the words already, they are those irksome un-signifiers like "values", "freedom", "bias", "terror", "elite." Nunberg explains how the right has crafted cultural narratives a ...more
I've also been reading this book for over a year. It's a little dry in places, but mostly I get so angry over the direction that our country is going that I have to put it down. Being a communications major and especially interested in linguistics and how culture is reflected in language and how language shapes culture, this book is excellent! It makes you stop and realize how the American English language is changing and how it is so influenced by politics (both right and left).
I always respected Geoffrey Nunberg as a linguist who was amazingly good at academic philosophical work as well. But he also has been advising the Democrats on how to be less hapless and wrote this enjoyable and very accessible book peeling away one at a time the layers of false consciousness encoded in the language of present-day politics.
Oct 14, 2011 Nat added it
Though weirdly dated in some respects (Nunberg refers to the "I-Pod", for example, with that punctuation), the call that this book makes for a liberal narrative that can match the conservative narrative of everyday, honest, pious Americans vs. "elitist" unpatriotic liberals is absolutely up-to-the-minute. And there's some reason to think that the developing language of the "99%" is capable of providing such a narrative, comparable to Clinton's picture of people who "work hard and play by the rul ...more
Daniel Crews
Feb 26, 2008 Daniel Crews rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Democrats of all stripes
Tell me a story, Nunberg says. His ultimate argument, written and supported well, is that conservatives have woven this narrative in which liberals are these elitist snobs who are trying to put a gay marriage in every pot and kill all the babie they can get their hands on, resulting in the downward spiral of Western Civilization. Nunberg shows through careful analysis how this narrative is actually accepted even by liberals and the mainstream media despite its being demonstrably false.

In order t
Written from a liberal political perpsective, the book explores how the right has used language to further its agenda. Nunberg made some great points, and his statistics about word usage were really intresting. But I found that some of his reasoning was flawed. The book was something of a liberal manifesto, so I guess it was okay that he wasn't balanced in his approach. But the book made me want to stand up for conservatism - even though I usually consider myself to be every so slightly left-of- ...more
Olivia Głąb
I have a great respect for Geoffrey Nunberg. Even thou it is not an easy subject, the book was easy to read. Even esear then in my own language ( )
When I purchased this book at the time it was released, it seemed more insghtful and relevent. This is not to say the book is any less valued at this point, but either through exposure, my own political education in the tiem since buying it, or because of the evolution of politics in general, voters and the media are far more savvy to the things written about in this book. Just the same, its always a good refresher to pour through and remain sharp on spin.
Nathan Hetrick
A bit dated, but still helpful for understanding how Republicans have controlled the political dialogue for the past forty years. It seemed to me, however, that he could have spent more pages telling what to do to overcome it and perhaps a bit fewer pages describing the problem.
"Talking Right" is a scholarly narrative that details the nuances of political discourse. I had no idea that Democrats were losing the War of Words. I always feel like a winner. Just kidding. :) It really is an entertaining and thought-provoking book.
Basically a concession that conversatives have done a better job of using language and branding for propaganda and a challenge to liberals to reclaim the langauge of debate rather than engaging conservatives using their own deeply loaded terms.
A really fun, thought-provoking read! I read it at around the same time as George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant, and the two together kind of blew my mind. I recommend!
Thought-provoking. All about the power of buzz words and how often even the most insightful and intelligent people shelve their critical-think for group-think.
Stephanie W
It was extremely applicable, then Obama got elected. Looking at it retrospectively, you can see how much the book is dated. We'll see how things look in 2012
Aug 07, 2007 Linda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, language
Oops. I just cleared out my review, because I realized I was thinking of a different book by Nunberg. Never mind...
Nicolle Bennion
Sep 11, 2007 Nicolle Bennion rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: speech writers for the democratic party
Even though I am a democrat I also admit that they aren't very good at campaigning unfortunately.
Jake Lewin
Really interesting discussion of language in politics and america.
Leaves a lot to be desired. Read God's Politics instead.
annoyingly partisan and not interesting enough.
Marv Dc
Marv Dc marked it as to-read
May 04, 2015
Jesse Baer
Jesse Baer marked it as to-read
Apr 05, 2015
Mahad marked it as to-read
Mar 07, 2015
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Geoff Nunberg is a linguist and professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information in Berkeley, California, USA. He is also a frequent contributor to the National Public Radio program "Fresh Air".
More about Geoffrey Nunberg...
The Way We Talk Now: Commentaries on Language and Culture from NPR's Fresh Air Going Nucular: Language, Politics and Culture in Confrontational Times Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years The Years of Talking Dangerously The Future of the Book

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