War of Words : Language, Politics and 9/11 book cover
1st Edition

War of Words
Language, Politics and 9/11

ISBN 9780415336246
Published August 22, 2004 by Routledge
216 Pages

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Book Description

In a media age, wars are waged not only with bombs and planes but also with video and sound bites. War of Words is an incisive report from the linguistic battlefields, probing the tales told about September 11th to show how Americans created consensus in the face of terror. Capturing the campaigns for America's hearts, minds, wallets and votes, Silberstein traces the key cultural conflicts that surfaced after the attacks and beyond:

  • the attacks on critical intellectuals for their perceived 'blame America first' attitude
  • the symbiotic relationship between terrorists and the media
  • (mis)representations of Al Qaeda and the Taliban used to justify military action
  • the commercialisation of September 11th
  • news as 'entertainment' when covering tragic events.

Now featuring a new chapter on the Second Anniversary and Beyond, including: the war in Iraq, the backlash against former 'heroes' and accusations of presidential mendacity.
A perceptive and disturbing account, War of Words reveals the role of the media in manufacturing events and illuminates the shifting sands of American collective identity in the post September 11th world.

Table of Contents

1. Terror or War?  The War on Terror  2. Becoming President  3. From News to Entertainment: Eyewitness Accounts  4. New York becomes America(n)  5. Selling America  6. 'The New McCarthyism'  7. Teaching America

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Sandra Silberstein is a leading name in applied linguistics, and Professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is widely published, and has written articles on a number of politically sensitive topics, including the OJ Simpson trial, the Gulf War, AIDS and the Inauguration of George Bush.


"...a compelling analysis of the way language was used in the political construction of the horrifying historical events of September 11th. Silberstein's analysis gives us a fresh look at the juggernaut of world politics as it is constructed in the linguistic actions of the media, of world leaders, and of the ordinary people who experience world events." - Ron Scollon, Georgetown University

"The brief study, War of Words, by Sandra Silberstein, an 'applied linguist,' offers shrewd analysis of the language used after September 11. She shrewdly analyzes how the comments by Peter Jennings while broadcasting the service on September 14 at the National Cathedral helped define the event as one of the 'great national occasions." - Columbia Journalism Review

"This isn't exactly foreign policy, but close enough. Sandra Silberstein...examines how language has been torqued since the terrorist attacks. The president, formerly the butt of jokes, becomes the commander-in-chief, to give just one example. She concludes that the national tragedy has been manipulated into a consumer opportunity--a charge from which the proliferation of 9/11 books is not exempt." - Vancouver Sun