SAFIRE'S POLITICAL DICTIONARY: An Enlarged, Up-to-Date Edition of the New Language of Politics by William Satire

SAFIRE'S POLITICAL DICTIONARY: An Enlarged, Up-to-Date Edition of the New Language of Politics

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KIRKUS REVIEW

When this lexicon first appeared in 1968, there were no entries for ""game plan,"" ""linkage,"" ""silent majority,"" or ""New Federalism,"" all of which were added in the 1972 edition. This latest up-dating now adds ""cover-up,"" ""deep-six,"" ""dirty tricks,"" ""stonewalling,"" and a slew of other ""Watergate words""; this, indeed, is the Watergate Edition of Satire's often amusing and informative compendium. Otherwise, the volume abounds in familiar Americanisms like ""jawboning""--which dates from only 1962--and ""log-rolling"" (1820), as well as those bywords of earlier political intolerance, ""Jim Crow"" and ""McCarthyism."" Satire traces the history and usage of each phrase or word and relates them to connected terms. One miserable little phrase was easy to trace, since Safire himself is to blame; it is ""nattering nabobs of negativism"" uttered by the esteemed Spire Agnew. Occasionally, Safire's vantage point from the right wing of the New York Times' Op-Ed page clouds up, as when he eschews a definition of ""participatory democracy,"" senselessly directing the reader to ""tell it like it is""--Howard Cosell doesn't even get honorable mention--and ""committed."" Nevertheless, there are many gems among the likes of the familiar ""gerrymander"" or ""boondoggle"" sure to inspire word freaks. Discovering that ""Founding Fathers"" is of recent origin--1918--is the kind of surprise that highlights the living quality of language (a pure-silver dime you don't know who coined it) and the social and political context of usages we now take for granted. There's some ""gobbledygook,"" a little ""bomfog,"" and a lot of fun, too.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1978
Publisher: Random House