THE ARGUMENT CULTURE                                                      Stopping America's War of Words

Unique among Tannen's books, The Argument Culture focuses on public discourse - in the press, politics, the law, and education.

Our society has become overwhelmingly adversarial, with consequences not only in our ability to solve problems but also in our personal relationships.  The war on drugs, the battle of the sexes, politicians' turf battles—war metaphors pervade our talk and shape our thinking, urging us to approach anything we need to accomplish as a fight between two opposing sides.

Tannen traces this tendency to the history of our educational system, and shows its roots among boys at play.  Exploring how other cultures approach opposition, and discussing the influence of electronic communication in ratcheting up the level of aggression, Tannen shows how we can move toward more constructive dialogue in our public as well our private lives.  This book will change forever how you see forces that powerfully shape our lives, and suggests new ways of reaching our goals.

in the media

Read Deborah Tannen's article in The Washington Post Outlook Section


“[Tannen] makes such a convincing case that after reading her book I could not stop seeing this argument culture everywhere.”San Francisco Chronicle

 “Tannen's book is a wake-up call to Americans that words can and do hurt us and that we need to understand this and do something about it.” 
Common Boundary

“With the empathy of a therapist and the authority of a linguistics professor, Tannen stretches her scholarship further onward.... In her trademark clear, well-organized style, and generously using examples from her own life, Tannen moves from arena to arena, backing her thesis with plenty of research.” 
Entertainment Weekly

“Her chapter tracing styles of argument across cultural lines is a well-reasoned examination not only of differences between societies but of ethnic differences within our own society.”
The Washington Post Book World

“[An] insightful and unique book.” Audiophile


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