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About the book
  • 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.

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

About the Author

Don Watson

Don Watson's books, articles and essays have been widely acclaimed. His bestselling titles include Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating Prime Minister, which won the Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Prizes, the Brisbane Courier Mail Book of the Year, the National Biography Award and the Australian Literary Studies Association's Book of the Year, Death Sentence, which won the Australian Booksellers Association Book of the Year, Watson's Dictionary of Weasel Words, and American Journeys, which won The Age Book of the Year and Non-Fiction Book of the Year, the inaugural Indie Award for Non-Fiction and the Walkley Non-Fiction Award. In 2010 Don was awarded the Phillip Hodgins Memorial Medal for Australian Literature. Since 2003 his website weaselwords.com.au has been documenting the viral spread of management-speak and the decline of public language. His critically acclaimed 2014 book The Bush recently won the Indie Book of the Year and the NSW Premier's Literary Award.

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