Amusing Ourselves to Death

Amusing Ourselves to Death Character List

Neil Postman

The author of the book and sole narrator, Mr. Postman delivers strong opinions that do not disguise his own biases and feelings. Many of his opinions reveal him to be quite a humanist who respects the rational potential in human beings. He is someone who both appreciates television for what it is and realizes the harm it is causing to our civilization.

Marshall McLuhan

The godfather of media ecology, Mr. McLuhan is mentioned often in the book, always with deference but sometimes as a figure whose opinions Mr. Postman wishes to alter or expand upon. See the Additional Content section of this note for more information on Mr. McLuhan's theories.

George Orwell

A British author relevant to this book for having written 1984.

Aldous Huxley

A British author most relevant to this work for having written Brave New World.

Ronald Reagan

The 40th President of the United States, having served from 1980 through 1988. Ronald Reagan was a film actor before beginning his career in politics.

Billy Graham

A famous televangelist, known for a folksy but articulate style of Protestant Christianity.

Red Buttons

A once-popular American comedian.

Dr. Ruth

A celebrity figure who dispenses relationship and sex advice.

Lewis Mumford

An American historian, writer, and sociologist, active in the second half of the 20th century.

Northrop Frye

An influential Canadian literary critic and theorist.


A philosopher from the Golden Age of Athens, known for his dialectical examinations of behavior.

Thomas Paine

A revolutionary thinker and writer of colonial America, most famous for his pamphlet Common Sense, which argued for resistance to British rule.

Abraham Lincoln

American President who served during the Civil War, here mentioned in relation to his part in the the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Stephen Douglas

An American politician from the pre-Civil War era, here mentioned for his inclusion in the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Jonathan Edwards

A famed American preacher associated with the Great Awakening, and renowned for his fiery religious speeches.

Jerry Falwell

A popular televangelist and political figure in American from the late 1970's through his death in 2007.

Louis Daguerre

The French artist who discovered the daguerreotype, the early form of photography that allowed images to be widely reproduced for the first time.

Susan Sontag

An American writer and theorist, most famous for her discussions and considerations of mass culture.

Henry Kissinger

Former United States Secretary of State, best known for his role in waging the Vietnam War under President Nixon.

Robert McNamara

Former United States Secretary of Defense.

Elie Wiesel

A Jewish author most famous for his Holocaust memoir Night.

William Buckley

An American political author and commentator most famous in the 1980's.

Robert MacNeil

A former television news anchor who designed and delivered a news program on American public television.

Jimmy Swaggart

An American televangelist noted for a more fire-and-brimstone approach. His popularity declined after a series of sex scandals surfaced in the 1980s and 1990s.

Pat Robertson

An American televangelist mentioned for his program "The 700 Club" and today best known for representing a conservative Christian political movement.

Walter Ong

An American Jesuit priest, professor of English literature, cultural and religious historian and philosopher primarily concerned with the impact of the shift from orality to literacy on culture and education.