Burrell, Brian The Words We Live By

ISBN 13: 9781451646757

The Words We Live By

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9781451646757: The Words We Live By
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At one time, this nation held a profound and simple faith in the power of words. Today we have become so engulfed in public cynicism that the whole notion of "words to live by" seems to us impossibly naive.

Brian Burrell's splendid collection shows that many of the phrases we once lived by can still have resonance today. A comprehensive, fascinating treasure trove of American common sense and whimsy, The Words We Live By presents a sentimental rediscovery of a lost era in American history. From fraternal loyalty oaths to marriage vows, corporate mottoes to monument inscriptions, Ben Franklin to Henry Ford, Americans for generations have committed their most cherished ideals to print, often in charming and plain-spoken language that perfectly represents our provincial, pragmatic, and romantic national character.

Burrell's work was inspired by his father, an obsessive collector of words and a chronic nostalgia buff who traveled widely with his family, introducing them to the landmarks, monuments, and other symbols of America's past. Throughout his life, he clipped or wrote down memorable phrases, quotes, mottoes, and quips, both the silly and the profound, the playful and the maudlin. Burrell has lovingly compiled his father's collection of scrapbooks, complementing them with extraordinary research into the origins of America's civic ethics, to produce a truly memorable and inspirational work of historical reference. More than just a compendium of classic American wit and wisdom, The Words We Live By brings this material to life with poignantly told stories, forgotten anecdotes, and deeply considered meditations on the meaning of the words that have shaped the American nation.

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Review:

With a historian's tenacity and the insight of a literary critic, Brian Burrell's zeal for his subject is apparent on every page of The Words We Live By. He writes about the origins and significance of some of the most famous sayings in English, from the Hippocratic oath to Murphy's Law, from the golden rule (22 versions) to mottoes on buildings and monuments across America. Burrell's zeal was inherited from his father, who collected these mottoes over years of excursions and business trips. By adding intelligent historical commentary, Burrell has succeeded in reviving the essential wisdom that lies dormant in words that are more than just words.

About the Author:

Brian Burrell is a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is author of Merriam Webster's Pocket Guide to Business and Everyday Math. Raised in Lexington, Massachusetts, he currently lives in Northampton.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780684830018: The WORDS WE LIVE BY

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0684830019 ISBN 13:  9780684830018
Publisher: Free Press, 1997
Hardcover

9780788169793: Words We Live by: The Creeds, Mottoes, and Pledges That Have Shaped America

Diane ..., 1997
Hardcover

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