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At war with words and War of words: Language, politics and 9/11

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2005

P. Kerim Friedman
37-30 81st Street, Apt. C-7, Jackson Heights, NY 11372,


Dedaić, Mirjana N. & Daniel N. Nelson (eds.), At war with words. New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 2003. Pp. 479, Hb. $94.00.

Silberstein, Sandra, War of words: Language, politics and 9/11. New York: Routledge, 2002. Pp. 224, Hb. $69.95, pb. $16.95.

Daniel Nelson writes that “we talk our way into war and talk our way out of it” (Dedaić & Nelson [henceforth DN], p. 449). Drawing on a diverse array of methodological and theoretical perspectives and an equally wide range of subject matters, Mirjana Dedaić and Daniel Nelson's edited volume on the role of language in war, and the effects of war on language, is a sprawling, perhaps unwieldy collection that opens up a number of important avenues of investigation in this gravely important but as yet undefined field of study. Sandra Silberstein focuses her book much more narrowly on the language of politics and news media in the wake of the September 11 tragedy. Despite their differences, both books address similar themes: (i) declaring war, or the language used by political leaders to justify military action; (ii) propaganda, or the construction of a war narrative by the media, and the use of political discourse to divide populations; (iii) language politics, or how wars shape language policy; and (iv) controlling speech, or the language used to grant or deny legitimacy in political debates. With the exception of language politics, not touched on by Silberstein, these themes are addressed equally by both books.

© 2005 Cambridge University Press

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