Amusing Ourselves to Death

Amusing Ourselves to Death Study Guide

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business is a book of media ecology written by educator and media theorist Neil Postman. It has remained both popular and in-print since it was first published in 1986. The book serves as both a work of general media theory and a specific examination of Postman's contemporary age. It seeks to define the way in which any civilization's media will shape its particular discourse, and then to illustrate how television, as the primary media-metaphor for the current age, has turned all of our public discourse into entertainment.

The book's genesis lies in a speech Postman gave on George Orwell's 1984 at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1984. The book reflects this birth through its primary hook, which seeks to explain how Aldous Huxley's vision of the future, as detailed in Brave New World, is more on-point than the tyrannical future Orwell depicts in 1984. In Huxley's work, future citizens are oppressed by entertainment rather than the state, as in Orwell's classic novel.

The book has maintained a strong reputation both in America and overseas since its publication, has sold over a quarter of a million copies, has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and has been touted by many artists and thinkers, perhaps most interestingly by musician Roger Waters on his album Amused to Death.