Synopses & Reviews
A presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton explores the hidden power of analogy to fuel thought, connect ideas, spark innovation, and shape outcomes
From the meatpacking plants that inspired Henry Fords first moving assembly line to the "domino theory" that led America into Vietnam to the "bicycle for the mind" that Steve Jobs envisioned as the Macintosh computer, analogies have played a dynamic role in shaping the world around usand still do today.
Analogies are far more complex than their SAT stereotype and lie at the very core of human cognition and creativity. Once we become aware of this, we start seeing them everywherein ads, apps, political debates, legal arguments, logos, and euphemisms, to name just a few. At their very best, analogies inspire new ways of thinking, enable invention, and motivate people to action. Unfortunately, not every analogy that rings true is true. Thats why, at their worst, analogies can deceive, manipulate, or mislead us into disaster. The challenge? Spotting the difference before its too late.
Rich with engaging stories, surprising examples, and a practical method to evaluate the truth or effectiveness of any analogy, Shortcut will improve critical thinking, enhance creativity, and offer readers a fresh approach to resolving some of todays most intractable challenges.
-Ben Schott, author of Schott's Original Miscellany
"Anyone with an interest in language is going to find this book fascinating."
-David Crystal, author of How Language Works
"With his compelling narrative style, Pollack unearths hard evidence that the noble pun is much more than a literary step-child or linguistic anomaly. And as a practitioner of the art and artifice of wordplay himself, John naturally dedicates a bit of spice to peppering and assaulting us with a few subtle zingers of his zone."
-Gary Hallock, producer of the O.Henry Pun-Off World Championships
"In The Pun Also Rises, John Pollack stirs the brain and tickles the funny bone with rewording insights into why the pun is dramatically rising in our culture, and illuminates with dazzling whiz and witdom how the pun has made us who we are today."
-Richard Lederer, International Punster of the Year and author of Get Thee to a Punnery
"A compelling exegesis on what puns are and why they matter."
"A fun, cogent argument in favor of a dubious, often-damned art."
"He tells us, with a clarity unusual for the subject, how the mind works..." -P.J. O'Rourke, The New York Times Book Review
"The best books on language are the ones that encourage us to reexamine what we think we know, and "The Pun Also Rises" does exactly that." -Boston Globe
"Whether you are practicing punster, interested in language or just hungry to learn something on the beach this summer as you lie on the sand-which-is there (see what happens when you talk to this guy?), Pollack's book is fun and informative." -Detroit Free Press
"John Pollack is the William Safire of his generation. In Shortcut
, he blends his encyclopedic knowledge, hard earned experience in politics, and deep love of words to craft a book that consistently rewards the reader with keen insights into the wonders of how language shapes our thinking."
—Jake Siewert, Global Head of Communications for Goldman Sachs
"As a historian, I have been professionally trained not to use analogies. But as John Pollack demonstrates in this eye-opening, mind-blowing, puzzle-solving book, comparisons and analogies infuse our thinking, infect our decisions, and inflect our efforts at persuasion. Once you lower your guard to Pollack's clever forays, you will never undervalue the power of analogical reasoning again--or ignore the risks of using comparisons too sloppily."
—Jack Rakove, Professor of History and Political Science at Stanford University, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"In the battle for public opinion, the best analogy usually wins. Shortcut shows us how—and why. It makes you think before you speak, literally. This is a great book, particularly for people who care about communicating effectively."
—Loretta Ucelli, White House Communications Director for President Bill Clinton
"Like a hot knife through warm butter, Pollack's clean prose cuts to the heart of the matter: we communicate, think, learn, and discover through analogies. Filled with captivating and entertaining examples, from falling apples to toppling dominos, the book teaches us how to best use analogies to win hearts, convince minds, and just have fun. Sure to float your boat."
—Scott Page, Director of the Center for Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan
"Pollack takes us on a fascinating journey through the shortcuts of the mind, revealing the immense power of analogy as a psychological device affecting our lives in intricate ways."
—Daniela Schiller, Ph.D., Neuroscientist at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
"Our minds work like supercomputers, processing impossibly vast amounts of information, creating patterns and parallels to make sense of all the data. Shortcut reveals how, through analogies (like the one in the previous sentence!), we understand our world, and, ultimately, ourselves. A fascinating read."
—David Zweig, author of Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion
"Pollack offers up an unparalleled feast of analogies, digging deep into his extensive experience as a writer to show why analogy is important, how it's constructed, and what makes it effective. Shortcut is to analogies what The Joy of Cooking is to brisket."
—Benjamin Bergen, Director of the Language and Cognition Lab at the University of California at San Diego and author of Louder than Words
"Anyone who has ever tried to find the right analogy to win an argument, to settle a dispute, to persuade squabblers to compromise — or who wants to avoid making things worse by using the wrong analogy — should read this insightful book!"
—Suzanne R. Butler, Ph.D., J.D., member of National Academy of Arbitrators
Praise for John Pollacks books:
"He tells us, with a clarity unusual for the subject, how the mind works."
—The New York Times
"The best books on language are the ones that encourage us to reexamine what we think we know, and The Pun Also Rises . . . does exactly that."
—The Boston Globe
"Pollacks . . . quest seems not merely charming but heroic."
—The New Yorker
"Written in a style of singular grace and impact."
A former speechwriter for Bill Clinton provides a light-hearted exploration of puns, including the brain science and history behind them, as well as how they play out in pop culture.
Provides a light-hearted exploration of puns, including the brain science and history behind them, as well as how they play out in pop culture.
A funny, erudite, and provocative exploration of puns, the people who make them, and this derided wordplay's remarkable impact on human history.
In The Pun Also Rises, John Pollack-a former World Pun Champion and presidential speechwriter for Bill Clinton-explains why puns matter: They revolutionized language and played a pivotal role in making the modern world possible. Skillfully weaving together stories and evidence from history, brain science, pop culture, literature, anthropology, and humor, The Pun Also Rises is an authoritative yet playful exploration of puns.
With an engaging narrative, this book answers fundamental questions: Just what are puns? Why do people make them? How did punning impact the development of human language, and how did that drive creativity and progress? And why, after centuries of decline, does the pun still matter?
At once entertaining and educational, this engaging book builds a compelling case for the powerful and enduring role of puns in human discourse and innovation, and why they'll always be more than just some antics.
About the Author
Former presidential speechwriter John Pollack won the 1995 O. Henry World Championship Pun-Off. Earlier in his career, he wrote for The Hartford Courant and spent three years in Spain as a freelance foreign correspondent writing for the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Miami Herald, and Advertising Age, among others. His previous books include Cork Boat and The World on a String: How to Become a Freelance Foreign Correspondent. He currently works as a speechwriter and consultant for ROI Communication, a consulting firm. He lives in New York City.