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At first there were no words to describe the horror of September 11, only a national hush that expressed the sudden absence of so many innocent lives.
Then the floodgates opened: eyewitness accounts, expert analyses, bitter denunciations, tributes to fallen heroes, patriotic exortations, eulogies, and spin. Almost immediately, the Bush Administration and the media launched an unprecendented rhetorical campaign aimed at manufacturing support for the "War on Terror."
A fascinating glimpse into the full impact of 9/11 on America's psyche, War of Words takes a critical look at the strategic use of language to create a series of national transformations. A terrorist attack became an "act of war," requiring commensurate response. The President, until then the butt of national jokes, ascended to Commander in Chief, while the leader of the city we love to hate became "America's mayor." TV ads for cars and clothing featured flags and firemen, showing that consumerism is patriotism.
With a keen ear for the hidden messages in our national stories, Sandra Silberstein unearths the dark side of this patriotic rhetoric, including the attacks on those who question U.S. policy and the denunciation of liberal intellectuals by the conservative American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
Timely and penetrating, War of Words shows how the stories we told after the attacks fashioned a post-9/11 American identity and reinscribed our national beliefs.
Published: 22nd July 2004