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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 members say

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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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Brilliant writing at breakneck speed

An essay full of insight into how public discourse is shaped by the media form it's delivered in. It gives you some insight into the history of how we came to a place where a US presidential campaign can be won via Twitter. Written at a time when television dominated the home, it's given me cause to consider that how we think has changed in the decades following this book. What would Postman think of Twitter and Instagram? I would like to think that he could have seen these visual and intellectually trivial formats and thought up himself, 'yup, that's the way I thought we would go'. My review loses a star as the narration is far too fast, but if you can keep up, it's time will spent.

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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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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...

6 of 6 people found this review 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.

5 of 5 people found this review 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.

15 of 19 people found this review 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.

5 of 6 people found this review 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 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Seth H. Wilson
  • 18-02-15

A warning to the TV generation

It must be remembered that this book is almost 30 years old, so it's inevitable that some of its arguments no longer quite work. But in most ways they do. Moreover, they often apply to our current internet generation as well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • HavingMySay
  • 02-03-13

Flash Forward

What would have made Amusing Ourselves to Death better?

Thought provoking.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Important context in the Forward read too fast. Throughout, the pace varies, but, overall, read too quickly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amber
  • 18-04-18

This guy is a true oracle...

Amazing how spot on this analysis is of TV & culture and how many completely accurate his predictions were in 1984 about what the future culture would look like. Must read if you are at all interested in understanding media bias and decline of the culture particularly in the US.

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  • Anna
  • 14-04-18

Extremely relevant to our time

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. It is a warning of the dangers of too much media.

What other book might you compare Amusing Ourselves to Death to and why?

The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. Both show how media have changed our ability to think

Which character – as performed by Jeff Riggenbach – was your favorite?

This was a work of nonfiction, therefore there were no characters.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I don't remember one moment in particular. I listened to this several months ago.

Any additional comments?

Everyone should read or listen to this book.