The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America Paperback – Sep 1 1992
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Praise for Daniel J. Boorstin's The Image
“A very informative and entertaining and chastising book.”
“A book that everyone in America should read every few years. Stunning in its prescience, it explains virtually every aspect of our mass media's evolution and seductiveness.”
—Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Visit From the Goon Squad
“An engrossing book—sensitive, thoughtful, damning, dead on target and in most respects unanswerable.”
“Excellent. . . It is the book to end all books about ‘The American Image’—what it is, who projects it, what effect it has at home or abroad.”
“A brilliant and original essay about the black arts and corrupting influences of advertising and public relations.”
“Boorstin’s book tells us how to see and listen, and how to think about what we see and hear.”
From the Back Cover
"An Engrossing Book -- Sensitive, Thoughtful, Damning, Dead On Target And In Most Respects Unanswerable."
-- Scientific American"entertaining, Acute, Stimulating, Timely, And Intelligent...A Brilliant Polemic About A Very Real Problem."
-- Saturday Review
"excellent...It Is The Book To End All Books About 'the American Image' -- What It Is, Who Projects It, What Effect It Has At Home Or Abroad." -- The Observer
Top Customer Reviews
His main thematic device is to dichotomize pre-modern and modern/postmodern categories. For instance, in discussing celebrity he notes that the precursor of the celebrity was the hero. He explains the difference by saying that the hero was "folk" based, while the celebrity is "mass" based. George Washington was raised to the level of hero by the people for his deeds, his fame embroidered by them, cherry trees invented for him to chop down. On the other hand, celebrities -- the Gabor sisters to use one of his examples -- were celebrities before they even starred in movies. They were created by astute publicists and through their own knack of getting into the paper.
He actually starts his discussion about how the image has come to be substituted for ideals in his first chapter on the gathering and dissemination of the news. He notes the rise of the pseudo-event, e.g.Read more ›
All in all, this is a very good look at modern America and its self-obsession and, despite advances in technology, is not at all dated. I would recommend reading Propaganda by Edward Bernays and Public Opinion by Walter Lippman to get a fuller understanding of public relations, advertising and the whole empire of illusions.
It provides excellent explanations for many of the phenomena so many complain about in modern society, and it is clear, accurate, and affecting. My gripe is that Boorstin makes some point in the first 3-4 pages of each chapter, then follows it with unnecessary examples. Unless you're obsesed with having everything restated and proved several times before you believe it, I advise you to read the first 4 pages of each chapter and then move on to the next-- literally. This book would be a lot shorter if it trusted itself a little-- the truths it reveals are intelligent and the reader identifies with them immediately, and the amount of proof and restatement provided is unnecessary.
Boorstin's central theme is America's preoccupation with being preoccupied...with itself. He maintains that our society has lost focus on anything beyond itself, beyond the media-made images of itself, and is wholly preoccupied with the appearance of things and, ultimately, the processes of creating appearances-- a kind of national and cultural schizophrenia. He concludes that this national narcissism--like the Greek namesake--can only result in languishment and demise.
At first blush, the work seems readable and straightforward, but this is not light reading. It demands careful attention and reflection. The payoff is a rewarding experience which should stand as a classic of its kind.
Most recent customer reviews
Boorstin's tone is that of crotchety old curmudgeon who sees the evil in any technological developments. Read morePublished on July 8 2004 by Dr. W. G. Covington, Jr.
Boornstin is such a prolific writer that it's easy to see how this book got passed over by most readers in the 60s. Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2000
Boorstin first published this prophetic book in 1962. What amazes me in particular is the accurate depiction of our current media and journalism. Read morePublished on July 30 1999
This book might be great because it discusesses the problems in AMerica, but it offers no solutions.Published on Jan. 4 1999