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"Media Warfare" is the concluding volume of Melvin Lasky's monumental "The Language of Journalism", a three-volume series that has been praised as a "brilliant" and "original" study in communications and contemporary language. Firmly rooted in the critical tradition of H. L. Mencken, George Orwell, and Karl Kraus, Lasky's incisive analysis of journalistic use and misuse of language measures the cultural and political health of contemporary society as well the declining standards of contemporary journalism. As in the first two volumes, Lasky's scope is cross-cultural with special emphasis on the sometimes conflicting, sometimes mutually influential styles of American and British journalistic practice. His approach to changes in media content and style is closely keyed to changes in society at large. "Media Warfare" pays particular attention to the gradual easing and near disappearance of censorship rules in the 1960s and after, and the attendant effects on electronic and print media. In lively and irreverent prose, Lasky dissects the dilemmas posed by the entrance of formerly "unmentionable" subjects into daily journalistic discourse, whether for reasons of profit or accurate reporting. He details the pervasive and often indirect influence of the worlds of fashion and advertising on journalism with their imperatives of sensationalism and novelty. In constrast, he shows how the freeing of language and subject matter in literature - the novels of Joyce and Lawrence, the poetry of Philip Larkin - have affected permissible expression for good or ill. Lasky also relates this interaction of high and low style to the spread of American urban slang, often with Yiddish roots and sometimes the occasion of anti-Semitic reaction, into the common parlance of British as well as American journalists. Other chapters are devoted to the inflation of the language of tragedy and atrocity as well as the various political agendas of media spin from the Middle East conflict to the Clinton impeachment. "Media Warfare" concludes with prescriptive thoughts on how journalism might be revitalized in a "post-profane" culture. Witty, timely, and deeply learned, this third volume of Lasky's "The Language of Journalism" is a fitting capstone to a distinguished career.
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About the Author

Melvin J. Lasky was the editor of Encounter from 1958 until its close in 1990; before that he was the editor of Der Monat in Berlin. He is the author of The Hungarian Revolution, Africa for Beginners, Utopia and Revolution, On the Barricades and Off, and Voices in a Revolution, the last three available from Transaction.

Reviews

-With this volume, Lasky completes his singular, extended pursuit of the media's depiction of the unmentionable, frightening, offensive, disruptive, amoral, abnormal, vulgar, obscene, and profane (vols. 1-2, CH, Mar'01, 38-3721; Oct'05, 43-0753)... Lasky is unique among critics of contemporary journalism; his perspective may be most akin to that of H.L. Mencken or Edmund Wilson. This three-volume set is a valuable resource for journalism and literary criticism. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.- --R. A. Logan, Choice "With this volume, Lasky completes his singular, extended pursuit of the media's depiction of the unmentionable, frightening, offensive, disruptive, amoral, abnormal, vulgar, obscene, and profane (vols. 1-2, CH, Mar'01, 38-3721; Oct'05, 43-0753)... Lasky is unique among critics of contemporary journalism; his perspective may be most akin to that of H.L. Mencken or Edmund Wilson. This three-volume set is a valuable resource for journalism and literary criticism. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals." --R. A. Logan, Choice "With this volume, Lasky completes his singular, extended pursuit of the media's depiction of the unmentionable, frightening, offensive, disruptive, amoral, abnormal, vulgar, obscene, and profane (vols. 1-2, CH, Mar'01, 38-3721; Oct'05, 43-0753)... Lasky is unique among critics of contemporary journalism; his perspective may be most akin to that of H.L. Mencken or Edmund Wilson. This three-volume set is a valuable resource for journalism and literary criticism. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals." --R. A. Logan, Choice

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