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Summary

In this eloquent and persuasive book, Neil Postman examines the deep and broad effects of television culture on the manner in which we conduct our public affairs, and how "entertainment values" have corrupted the very way we think.

As politics, news, religion, education, and commerce are given less and less expression in the form of the printed word, they are rapidly being reshaped to suit the requirements of television. And because television is a visual medium, whose images are most pleasurably apprehended when they are fast-moving and dynamic, discourse on television has little tolerance for argument, hypothesis, or explanation. Postman argues that public discourse, the advancing of arguments in logical order for the public good, once a hallmark of American culture, is being converted from exposition and explanation to entertainment.

©1985 Neil Postman (P)1994 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic reviews

"A brilliant, powerful and important book....This is a brutal indictment Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one." (Washington Post Book World)
"[Postman] starts where Marshall McLuhan left off, constructing his arguments with the resources of a scholar and the wit of a raconteur." (Christian Science Monitor)
"A sustained, withering and thought-provoking attack on television and what it is doing to us....Postman goes further than other critics in demonstrating that television represents a hostile attack on literate culture." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Amusing Ourselves to Death

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Brilliant book read far too fast

Great ideas but they need to be digested. The fastest reader I have yet heard. I probably missed 70% of it

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Awful narration

The narrator chosen for this book is really not good and makes it unlistenable within 5 minutes. A shame really as it’s an important book. Avoid this version at all costs and buy the hardcopy instead.

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Utterly compelling in its proposition

A compelling argument with proofs on how entertainment media has generally dumbed us down. I had read 'The Plug In Drug' years ago but this was much more compelling.

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such a bad delivery

I was waiting to listen to this book. unfortunately it is being read at 100mph with no intonation..no full stops...

its an academic book with big concepts

SLOW DOWN

sorry but regret buying audible version
will have to buy physical copy

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Way to fast!

I was so looking forwards to listening to this book however, as many other reviewers have commented, it's narrated with such haste that's it's completely off putting. I managed 5minutes and realised I hadn't taken in any content, just my annoyance at the narrator's speed.

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horrendous narrator

did the narrator have an appointment he was late for? what's the rush? why do you pick these people that speak this way? an awfully, overworked treble tone bordering on fake sounding American accent. i was looking forward to this book but had to stop after 5 minutes . just awful.

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Interesting parallels from the 1980s to 2020

First off. Really fast and bad narration so much that I had to slow it down to listen to it.
Second, I didn't realise this was written in the early 80s (pre mass internet) and in part it's outdated.
However, Postman's points about evolving communication channels impacting how we consume information and it's (i)relevance are the parallels to mass media and the internet today where we've now become consumers of information that we take very little action on. It was also interesting to reflect on his arguments with the back drop to the American election!
Definitely needs updating though.

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Wake up world

TV will kill your brain, make you a puppet and charge you for the privilege. This book explores the changes from aural to printed to TV and how each has modified the world around us. Exposing the motivation behind learning, information and education and developing rational explanations of them puts critical to trying to understand life today.

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Sobering

This book provides an uncomfortable but accurate analysis of how TV has transformed our culture.

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a hugely prescient book

Written for the times of television but a more useful an analysis of today

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  • Lonnie
  • 27-11-07

Incredible

This is the first book I have ever rated or commented on at Audible, and I only do so because I feel the need to commend the author and tell others to read it as well.

He has many other books on this subject that I would also recommend reading, but I HIGHLY recommend this book to any and everyone living in todays culture. If we're to make a difference, we must first understand the land of which we live...

13 people found this helpful

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  • chaoticmuse
  • 17-03-11

Excellent Content Read at Warp Speed

As another reviewer noted the reader on this book goes way too fast for listening comfort. It's like he had someplace he needed to be. The content is the kind the calls for careful listening and I became frustrated with the speed reading approach. Even slowing down the delivery with my ipod didn't help because he was going so fast that the slower version came across as broken and with abnormal pauses. I ended up getting the book and reading it thoughtfully.

The content is dated only in its mention of particular shows/celebrities/current events and I would love to know what Mr. Postman would say about computers and all the new inputs. The argument is still completely relevant today and makes for fascinating study.

19 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen
  • 13-10-10

Great Book - Narration too fast!

This is an excellent book that all serious people should read. It speaks to the profound impact that media has had on our culture. Specifically, it speaks to the "news" media that has more and more shaped and made the news instead of just reporting. But, this is college level reading. The narrator reads much too fast for the depth of the subject covered to allow for serious consideration by the person listening. I found it an exercise in "rewinding" repeatedly to listen again to Postman's complex ideas to ensure I understood them.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 29-09-12

JUST SLOW DOWN THE READING SPEED

What made the experience of listening to Amusing Ourselves to Death the most enjoyable?

Seriously negative reviewers, this book is so important for ANYONE and EVERYONE to be exposed to. Use the feature of Audible to slow down the reading speed of the book.

This book, along with books like The Influencing Machine and Republic Lost, are what are going to make difference in how hard or soft the USA falls from it's place as the super power in the world.

Reviewing based on the speed of the reading...you've GOT to be KIDDING ME.

11 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Nelson Alexander
  • 20-03-10

A Lesson in Speed Reading

I am writing this review after about five minutes of the book. I hope the reader and publishers will take note. The book appears to be excellent. The reader's voice is very good. But it is being read so fast I thought it was an error. Whether by choice or direction, Mr. Riggenbach seems to be simply reading as fast as he humanly can, gulping for air. The idea, possibly from radio commercials, is to transmit the maximum words per second. If you are under 18 and do not care to think very much as you listen, this may not bother you. Perhaps it is a way of saving money on production costs. I believe I remember the same reader doing this with another book I bought. I may request my money back, and I urge everyone to carefully preview books by this reader and/or producer. It is a shame, and really inexplicable. Mr. Postman would probably find this 10-second commercial mode "amusing." Or not.

21 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Daniel
  • 04-11-07

When TV was king...

This book is a landmark for postmodernists everywhere!
I am currently studying this book for college level english composition and I have to say that this is a tough audio "read."
Neil Postman asserts that the television is causing our culture to evolve into that of a trivial nation. His book is far too small to cover every aspect of this argument, but the areas that he covers he leaves little doubt that the TV is causing us to care more about amusement than real topics and issues.
This is by no means Postman's only book on the topic. I would consider this a very good book, but in some ways it's merely a companion to his others.
This book has the tendency to persued a reader that the television is causing damage to our intellect, but I doubt that this reaction will remain constant as the internet, digital recorders, video on demand and the like become more prevelant. In many ways, listening to this book on tape rather than reading the paperback is sacrelige.
I highly recommend this book, and I highly recommend taking it with a grain of salt; myself I let my toddler watch Seasame Street still.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Nicole
  • 27-03-21

ideas that stand the test of time

CS Lewis suggested that for every "new" book one reads, they should read three books of a different era. This book should be on every list of those interested in discerning ideas that stand the test of time!

1 person found this helpful

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  • The Bookie
  • 05-02-21

A frightfully prescient view of our trajectory

Hard to believe Neil Postman wrote this almost 4 decades ago. It is every bit as relevant today. The only thing missing is a deep dive into the risks of our culture's current obsession with social media. Even without it, one can easily imagine what Postman might conjecture -- we are in a whole lot of trouble as a society, as a nation, and as individuals if the trend of losing ourselves in the mindless entertainment of the media continues. And thats the optimistic prognosis: the reality is that a lot of damage has already been done to our society. If you doubt that, just look at the madness and pageantry of the last American election cycle... I think its at least clear, no matter your political leanings, that a great deal of society's current woes are due in large part to media maleficence.

Unfortunately, it seems that Postman saw this trainwreck coming a very long time ago, and had the werewithal to write it all down as a warning to consider exactly how the way in which we consume information effects the way we think, and even IF we think.

Its a relatively short book, and the narrator does a fantastic job of reading it, with just enough humor and emphasis in the right places to make it an easy listen, despite its bleak subject matter. Postman's thesis that modern media's influence over society more closely resemble Aldous Huxley's vision in 'A Brave New World' than that of Orwell's '1984' has merit. Just look at any of the last decade's popular reality shows, if you doubt it.

I admit that our household finally cut off our cable television access a few years ago, and that while we have access to a few streaming networks we only turn on the television for an hour a week, if that. So, I am probably biased in regards to this book. Long ago, I decided that most tv programming is little more than a shallow merry-go-round of leftist propaganda and sensationalism that had a habit of stealing hours of my life by virtue of being cathartic, but nothing more. I don't miss it at all. However, I worry about the grip it has over many households and families. If only more people just turned it (and social media) off, and picked up a book -- maybe this book would be a good place to start.



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  • robert
  • 05-10-18

Timeless wisdom

I heard about this book from Hamilton Morris who mentioned it on the Joe Rogan podcast. This book is timeless. With withering accuracy, this book describes the downside of media, tv and computer culture. Unfortunately those who most need to hear this message , most likely wouldn't have the attention span or desire to hear it. I was impressed by the unapologetic approach. The author isn't political. He also isn't politically correct. So refreshing! I strongly disagree with an other review. The one in which it's alleged that this material is dated. It's more applicable today than when it was written. One only need substitute smart phone along with TV. I especially appreciated the chapter on News. I stopped watching 6 years ago and haven't looked back. I'm on my 3rd listen. Get this book!!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Pen Name
  • 11-09-18

Unbelievable!

This was so far ahead of it’s time. How this applies to our modern world and the internet is amazing. A must read!

1 person found this helpful