> Skip to content
  • Published: 19 March 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143790983
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $19.99

Death Sentence

The Decay of Public Language




Part diatribe, part cool reflection on the state of Australia’s public language, Don Watson’s Death Sentence is scathing, funny and brilliant.

Part diatribe, part cool reflection on the state of Australia’s public language, Don Watson’s Death Sentence is scathing, funny and brilliant.

‘ ... in public life the language has never been held in less regard. It withers in the dungeons of the technocratic mind. It is butchered by the media. In politics it lacks all qualifications for the main game.’

Almost sixty years ago, George Orwell described the decay of language and why this threatened democratic society. But compared to what we now endure, the public language of Orwell's day brimmed with life and truth. Today's corporations, government departments, news media, and, perhaps most dangerously, politicians – speak to each other and to us in cliched, impenetrable, lifeless sludge.

Don Watson can bear it no longer. In Death Sentence, part diatribe, part cool reflection on the state of Australia's public language, he takes a blowtorch to the words – and their users – who kill joy, imagination and clarity. Scathing, funny and brilliant, Death Sentence is a small book of profound weight – and timeliness.

  • Published: 19 March 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143790983
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Don Watson

Don Watson is the author of many books, including the bestselling Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM, Death Sentence, Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, Caledonia Australis, American Journeys and The Bush. In addition to books and essays, he writes films and gives occasional talks on writing and language.

Also by Don Watson

See all

Praise for Death Sentence

‘The Book of the Year... witty, erudite and funny. Awfully funny.’ - Simon Hughes, The Australian Financial Review

Related titles