THE NEW LANGUAGE OF POLITICS by William Safire

THE NEW LANGUAGE OF POLITICS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Cliches, slogans, euphemisms, familiar terms like ""deal,"" slang like ""bagman,"" controversial innovations like ""black, political use of,"" esoterica like ""eunuch rule."". . . This compilation is skin to Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary and its recent successor, Professor Edward Herman's Great Society Dictionary. All three seek to liberate us from the unreflective use of language--and the unreflective acceptance of others' manipulative usage. Safire (a journalist and co-author of the handbook Plunging Into Politics, (1964) is far less cynical than Bierce and less wittily didactic than Herman. But the dictionary is iconoclastic, if only because knowing the history of an expression tends to diminish its absolutistic, emotive force. Safire's annotations are rich but short and to the point (he occasionally gets carried away, though: the ""dove"" entry alludes to Aphrodite, Burke, William James and Picasso as well as Al Smith and Bundy); and the cross-references are strictly functional. Not much bureaucratic jargon, since Safire is concerned with ""politics,"" not ""government""; but connotations are explained, so we learn which terms are corny, contingently derogatory, used by reporters but not politicians, etc. in order to penetrate official smokescreens. Also, for better or worse, Safire almost entirely refrains from editorializing though he sometimes outlines arguments (about the Domino Theory) he more often doesn't (about the Alliance for Progress). . . . The price will discourage browsers but hopefully not libraries.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1968
Publisher: Random House