Collateral Language: A User's Guide to America's New War

Overview

Terrorism, jihad, fundamentalism, blowback. These and other highly charged terms have saturated news broadcasts and everyday conversation since September 11th. But to keen ears their meanings change depending upon who's doing the talking. So what do these words really mean? And what are people trying to say when they use them?

Each of the thirteen essays in Collateral Language offers an informed perspective on a particular word or phrase that serves as a building block in the ...

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Collateral Language: A User's Guide to America's New War

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Overview

Terrorism, jihad, fundamentalism, blowback. These and other highly charged terms have saturated news broadcasts and everyday conversation since September 11th. But to keen ears their meanings change depending upon who's doing the talking. So what do these words really mean? And what are people trying to say when they use them?

Each of the thirteen essays in Collateral Language offers an informed perspective on a particular word or phrase that serves as a building block in the edifice of post-World Trade Center rhetoric. In some cases this involves a systematic examination of the term in question (e.g. "anthrax" or "unity")its historical roots, the development of its meaning and usage in the U.S. over time, and its employment in the current context. In other cases authors provide a set of more philosophical or autobiographical reflections on a particular idea (e.g. "vital interests" or "evil"), suggesting a need to consider the ethical and moral implications of using the concept uncritically. In every instance, however, the overriding goal is to give the reader a set of practical tools to analyze the political language that surrounds all of us at this critical point in our nation's history.

Witty, informative and highly readable, Collateral Language is a lexicon of political terminology and an indispensable tool for understanding the current conflict.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A bracing shot of 90-proof intellectual bourbon to counteract the slush and mush of America's post 9/11 War on Language and Reason.”
-Alexander Cockburn,columnist for The Nation and coeditor of CounterPunch

"Journalists are being attacked for telling the truth, for trying to tell it how it is. American journalists especially. I urge them to read a remarkable new book published by the New York University Press and edited by John Collins and Ross Glover. It's called Collateral Language and is, in its own words, intended to expose "the tyranny of political rhetoric". Its chapter titles —"Anthrax", "Cowardice", "Evil", "Freedom", Fundamentalism", "Justice", "Terrorism", "Vital Interests" and—my favourite—"The War on..." (fill in the missing country) tell it all."
-Robert Fisk,The Independent

"Words are weapons in our new war, and all citizens are combatants. As a dictionary of post-911 rhetoric, Collateral Language shows us why we need smart books, not smart bombs. Brilliantly conceived, this book defines the axis of intelligence."
-Amitava Kumar,author of Passport Photos and Bombay-London-New York

"This leftward assault on 'the tyranny of political rhetoric used to justify America's new war [on terrorism]' is unlikely to end up on Bush administration nightstands."
-Washington Post

,

"The resulting book is to be warmly welcomed and slauted as a valuable contribution to a vital political debate on criminality in language in which the criminals are all too often granted impunity."
-Tribune

,

Robert Fisk
Journalists are being attacked for telling the truth, for trying to tell it how it is. American journalists especially. I urge them to read a remarkable new book published by the New York University Press and edited by John Collins and Ross Glover. It's called Collateral Language and is, in its own words, intended to expose "the tyranny of political rhetoric". Its chapter titles--"Anthrax", "Cowardice", "Evil", "Freedom", Fundamentalism", "Justice", "Terrorism", “Vital Interests" and--my favourite--"The War on..." (fill in the missing country) tell it all.
The Independent
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814716274
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2002
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John Collins is assistant professor of global studies at St. Lawrence University. He is coeditor (with Ross Glover) of Collateral Language: A User's Guide to America's New War (NYU Press, 2002).

Ross Glover is Visiting Professor of Sociology at St. Lawrence University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Anthrax 15
2 Blowback 27
3 Civilization versus Barbarism 39
4 Cowardice 53
5 Evil 65
6 Freedom 79
7 Fundamentalism 94
8 Jihad 109
9 Justice 125
10 Targets 138
11 Terrorism 155
12 Unity 175
13 Vital Interests 191
14 The War on öööööö 207
App Alternatives to the Mainstream U.S. Media 223
Contributors 225
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