Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Audiobook | Neil Postman | Audible.com
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Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business | [Neil Postman]

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

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.
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Publisher's 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.

What the Critics Say

"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

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (118 )
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  •  
    Lonnie Cherry Hill, NJ, USA 11-27-07
    Lonnie Cherry Hill, NJ, USA 11-27-07
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    "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...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon United States 03-17-11
    Sharon United States 03-17-11 Member Since 2007
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    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Tyler, AL, United States 10-13-10
    Karen Tyler, AL, United States 10-13-10
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    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nelson Alexander New York, NY, United States 03-20-10
    Nelson Alexander New York, NY, United States 03-20-10 Member Since 2006
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    "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.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Santa Cruz, CA, USA 11-04-07
    Daniel Santa Cruz, CA, USA 11-04-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
  •  
    Rebecca Corona, CA, United States 03-02-13
    Rebecca Corona, CA, United States 03-02-13 Member Since 2010
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    "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
  •  
    Andrew SEATTLE, WA, United States 09-29-12
    Andrew SEATTLE, WA, United States 09-29-12
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    "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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan C. Rhode Island, USA 06-11-12
    Alan C. Rhode Island, USA 06-11-12
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    "Jeff is in a rush..."
    How could the performance have been better?

    Jeff is in a rush. He narrates at a blinding speed, speaking in a monotone with no more feeling than computer generated speech. At least with computer generated speech you can control the speed. This book has interesting concepts and ideas but they fly by so fast there is no opportunity to process and absorb them. Ironic, in that this relates to the theme of the book. Jeff would do well to read it (silently) to himself. It might help him in his future work.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carrie Cleveland Heights, OH, United States 05-28-13
    Carrie Cleveland Heights, OH, United States 05-28-13 Member Since 2008
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    "A significant book, worth repeated listenings"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Amusing Ourselves to Death to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print version of this book, but was surprised to find that I was well able to follow and absorb it in audio despite its intellectual focus.


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

    This is one of a the key books on media and society that is truly accessible to non-academics, comparable to Edward Jay Epstein's "News from Nowhere," Joshua Meyrowitz's "No Sense of Place" and James Carey's "Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society."


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

    I was convinced that Jeff Riggenback was the author, so well did he read, with emphasis in all the right places.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It took me awhile to absorb this book, which I listened to in the car in bursts, as I drove to work. I think I started it on vaction. It bears putting down at time to think about the ideas, which are significant and sometimes complex. But it is truly accessible, so I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the increasingly important interactions between media and society. Indeed, every responsible citizen should be aware of these things, which are still valid and relevant although they were written decades ago.


    Any additional comments?

    Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Napa, CA, United States 11-30-11
    Jason Napa, CA, United States 11-30-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent for a quick listen"

    Postman's novel is a fantastic read though in today's world of the internet it has become somewhat dated. His discussion of the "typographical mind" was especially interesting. The reader was fast but he put 10 hours of reading into 5. Get's two thumbs up from me!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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