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(As of 9/20/06)

Nunberg writes about the political language with partisan gusto, bemoaning the failure of the left to come up with ''words that do the kind of work that values and elite have done for the right."
     -- William Safire, New York Times, June 18, 2006

It’s a sparkling book, and Nunberg is a witty and authoritative guide to several decades of political linguistic history.... Talking Right is a fun and rollicking ride.
      -- Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, July, 2006

His is a long-overdue call for Democrats to start talking like the populists they should be. . . "Talking Right" takes us — with terrific wit and eye-opening research — about as far as language alone can go to counter what Nunberg convincingly calls the conservatives' "linguistic coup"... Liberals should read Nunberg for the best advice yet on how to talk their way in from the cold.
--Leslie Savan, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 17, 2006

Geoffrey Nunberg's book "Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show" - whew! - is delightful. . . . As you'd guess, Nunberg is a liberal Democrat, but he performs an intellectually rigorous analysis of how the Republicans have done a far better job than the Democrats of mastering the use of buzz phrases to mislead and distract. In doing so, his book has garnered praise even from such right-wing wordsmiths as William Safire. . . "Talking Right" is a useful addition to the stack of books that should include George Orwell's Politics and the English Language, and a handy - and funny - guide to navigate through today's campaign verbiage.
-Robert Whitcomb, Providence Journal (Scripps Howard News Service), October 1, 2006

Part cogent analysis, part rallying cry, "Talking Right" could be as influential during this election cycle as Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter With Kansas?" was in 2004.
    --Don Aucoin, Boston Globe, July 5, 2006

Talking Right actually reads as a rallying call for the Democrats and their army of dormant linguistic analysts. While Nunberg is not entitled to impartiality here, his account of the linguistic clash is amply substantiated and compellingly written.
     --Andrea Katz, Financial Times, July 15, 2006

One of the subtlest reasons [Republicans] have been able to achieve such huge power is by controlling one of the least known - yet important - branches of American politics: language. ... A newly-published book on this, written by the respected linguist Geoffrey Nunberg, is making some deserved waves in US politics.
-- Paul Harris, The Observer, August 9, 2006

Nunberg goes beyond the consultants' conventional wisdom, using news databases and other online resources to document just how far, and how fast, some of the core political vocabulary has moved. Within a generation, he says, words like color-blind, hate speech, moderate, freedom, faith, and Christian have all been winched rightward--not just for conservatives, but for everyone sharing the language.... Though he's a partisan, frustrated with the Democrats' ineptitude at selling their political story, Nunberg is no frothing polemicist. My Republican relatives will enjoy "Talking Right," too--heck, considering how generously Nunberg acknowledges the right's rhetorical accomplishments, they may enjoy it more than I did.
     --Jan Freeman, Boston Globe, July 9, 2006

A succession of lively chapters explains how the Republicans turned "government into a term of abuse"; torpedoed affirmative action by introducing and promoting reverse discrimination; made "liberal" into a word of accusation; redefined the middle class so it encompassed everyone from the proprietor of a corner grocery to the president of the United States (all standing in alliance against the effete mob of latte-drinking, Volvo-driving Eastern seaboard snobs); invented a cultural divide that masks the economic divide between the haves and have-nots; narrowed Franklin Roosevelt's four freedoms into the freedom of corporations to do what they like; drove a wedge between "patriotic" and "liberal," so that one cannot be said to be both; and, in general, "radically reconfigured the political landscape" in ways that even liberals themselves accede to because the right's language is now the default language for everyone.
     --Stanley Fish, New York Times, July 16, 2006

Conservatives will enjoy the roll call of wins in "Talking Right." Progressives will appreciate its spot-on dissection of the right's game plan. Those who love the language will be awed, amused, enlightened and alarmed.
John Mangels, Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 16, 2006

An astute observer of the rhetorical wars, Nunberg has written a fascinating book that reveals the strategy (or lack of strategy) on each side. Conservatives won't like his political leanings, but they may appreciate his praise and his insights. Liberals, who have the most to gain from this book, may find it painful to read, as it recounts episode after episode of how they've lost the battle.
     -- Bill Adair, St. Petersburg Times, July 9, 2006

Talking Right, the latest from rock-star linguist Geoffrey Nunberg, delivers not only the most tongue-trippingly truculent subtitle of the year but also a fresh and well-argued take on the Democrats’ so-called "messaging problem"... [Nunberg's]  discoveries, both linguistic and cultural, help decode our current political language while offering the occasional surprise. For instance: Republicans buy more brie.
     -- Aaron Britt,
Washington City Paper, July 28, 2006

 "Talking Right" contains many a lesson on being a smarter consumer of language, political and otherwise. And it is more than diverting in its reading of the caricatures conservatives have retailed to trivialize liberal positions.
     -- David Skinner,
Washington Times, August 1, 2006

Nunberg's book should be a popular read for anyone sick of being known as a "latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving... freak show.
      -- Jennifer Koons, National Journal, May 11, 2006

What Berkeley linguist Geoffrey Nunberg is doing in this book is giving a thorough shaking to what is universally perceived as the Democrats' current crises in language and "narrative" in which the Right has, clearly, had not just the lion's share of success characterizing the opposition but the tiger's and rhinoceros' share too. Nunberg is a rough and ready partisan, not a theorist suffering emotional frostbite. It's just that his prescriptions for the revival of a persuasive political language for the Left come from as much scholarly breadth as hard-headed realpolitik.
      -- Jeff Simon, Buffalo News, June 25, 2006

Nunberg's greatest strength in "Talking Right" is his ability to unpack the political rhetoric of the right, teasing out the implications of terms such as"values voters"...."Talking Right" unspins some of the most clichéd political language of our time.
     -- Russell Cobb, Austin American-Statesman, July 23, 2006

In his new book, Nunberg once again takes the seemingly boring and dry topic of linguistics and injects humor and insight.
-- Theodora Blanchfield, Campaigns and Elections, August, 2006

How can you not love a book with the line: "It's hard to think of any leading right-wing broadcaster whom even his most devoted fans would welcome having as a brother-in-law."...Nunberg's analysis of how the right wing has shifted our entire political discourse is thought provoking throughout. His dissection of how the Republicans have stifled the Democrats from discussing class issues while it is the Republicans who are conducting class warfare is essential reading. Nunberg's analysis of how the right wing has shifted our entire political discourse is thought provoking throughout.
     -- Buzzflash

Articles & Interviews

"The Political Power of Words," by Dean Powers, The Nation online, June 12, 2006.

"In politics, the right words rule, linguist asserts," by Sam McManis, Sacramento Bee, July 13, 2006.

"How 'liberalism' became a bad word," Toronto Star, July 4, 2006.

"A guardian of language interprets the triumph of the right" (Interview), Boston Globe, July 30, 2006.

"A liberal interpretation: The current definition of right- and left-wing politics comes out of a consumer-based idea of what it is to be liberal or conservative," Chicago Sun-Times, July 30, 2006.

Copyright © 2006 Geoffrey Nunberg All rights reserved.