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Drawing on his position as a professor of humanities (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; A Tear Is an Intellectual Thing), Neu gives us a wide-ranging, thought-provoking, and incredibly readable-if demanding-study of a subject that will be of interest to anyone who has ever been insulted-and who among us hasn't been? Neu emphasizes "philosophical, anthropological, psychoanalytic and legal approaches" to try to understand as fully as possible the nature of insults and insulting behavior. He considers obscenity, free speech, hate speech, libel and slander, insult humor, and other pertinent issues and gives myriad examples of hurtful behavior involving well-known persons as well as insults from classical to contemporary times. Included is a fascinating and detailed "Shakespeare Insult Kit" that shows the playwright's deep and intuitive understanding of this aspect of human nature. A delightful, important study for readers of all levels; highly recommended.
—Leon H. Brody