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BlogCritics.org  -  April 14th, 2010
The Forbidden Political Dictionary: Complete and Unapproved
by John Clifton

Have you ever read The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce? When I was in my late teens I went through a stage where I was reading whatever I could get my hands on about witchcraft. Many girls go through this, probably because when you’re a teenager you feel like a witch—misunderstood, alienated, and persecuted. I added The Devil’s Dictionary to my small collection, bought only on the strength of the front cover which was red and featured tiny demons.

If you’ve read The Devil’s Dictionary you know that it is not a book about demonology or witchcraft. Instead, it’s a small dictionary that offers perverse, ironic definitions of a selection of terms. It translates what people say into what they mean. For example, Bierce defined “lawyer” as “one skilled in the circumvention of the law.” I was not disappointed in this little volume; I found it amusing and accurate. Even as an adolescent, I was cynical (as defined by Bierce, a cynic is “a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.”)

Many years have passed, and another slim volume with a red cover has been published, The Forbidden Political Dictionary - Complete and Unapproved. Again, it is a dictionary of terms, many of which did not exist when Ambrose Bierce wrote, with their true meanings. Written by John Clifton, The Forbidden Political Dictionary defines “lawyer” as “One versed in litigation and skilled in prevarication who represents clients and misrepresents facts in order to beat the law.” Like me, John Clifton is an admirer of Ambrose Bierce. I know this because I read the foreword to his book, something he thinks no one will do.

Clifton is also a cynic, which he defines as “Perceptive person who sees falsity where others see truth and truth where others see falsity. Cynics are often deemed perverse, nasty souls, but are actually honest, nasty souls.” His definitions will strike a chord of familiarity (“interim appointment, n. Sale of a vacated office”) in those who are exposed to politics, even by accident.

I was delighted that one of the terms he includes is “yellow dog Democrat,” one which my father applied to himself until he became a Republican. My southern husband had never heard that term until he met me, which I found odd because my father was from Nebraska, my mother from New York, and I from New Jersey, and we all used it. Clifton defines “yellow dog Democrats” as “traditional Democrats, identified with the old South, originally so-named because they ‘would rather vote for a yellow dog than a Republican.’ Ironically they eventually became Republicans, presumably even worse than yellow dogs.”

From “academia” to “zoo,” Clifton boldly dares to cleverly define words of mass disinformation. Yes, he is taking shots at our political morass, but with a target that big, who could fault him? The Forbidden Political Dictionary is a perfect book to browse through, reading a little bit at a time, but I defy you to do that. Once you start, it’s hard to put down

Bottom Line: Would I buy The Forbidden Political Dictionary? Of course. I’m a sucker for books with red covers (and this one would make a great gift for birthdays, graduates, Father’s Day, etc.).

Miss Bob Etier, BlogCritics.org

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-the-forbidden-political-dictionary/page-1/#ixzz0l5H5tPxt

5.0 out of 5 stars - Amazon.com
A Guide To What Politicians Are Really Saying - Highly Recommended!,
April 12, 2010
By CFH "chillnhill" (Blue Ridge Summit, PA USA)

"The Forbidden Political Dictionary" is a very clever collection of terms used by our elected officials, all clearly defined so we will know they really mean. This is a fairly thin book at 88 pages of actual content, but does contain just about every political term and phrase I thought worthwhile to look up.

The author, John Clifton, did a very good job at masking his political leanings and mostly avoided definitions that would overly offend any specific ideology. While most of the entries are what we all *think* when we hear the terms, there are a few really insightful definitions as well. I particularly liked the very first entry, "Academia", and the one for "Death Penalty".

This is a good "bathroom book" or as a gift for the overly political friend (you know, the ones who forward all of the emails or post endless Facebook links on why the "other" party is evil).

Highly Recommended!

CFH  (TOP 50 Amazon Reviewer)




“Whatever your political stripe (red, blue, purple or any hue between) you will get a hearty chuckle (and maybe emit a loud guffaw) at John Clifton’s wittily barbed definitions. So many of them hit their targets with dagger-like accuracy that you’ll gasp with delight. Be the first to share Clifton’s sharp and funny words via e-mail or at the water cooler. These will travel fast.”Marvin Terban, award-winning, best-selling author of many books on the English language and wordplay.

"As a standup comic, I tend to avoid doing material about politics. However, after reading this book I am certain John Clifton could have a great career as a comedian and would do quite well going up against any other sharp witted political satirists. Nothing is off limits in this awesome little page turner. I wish all dictionaries were this entertaining! And I am not just saying this because I am a ‘celebrity’ (see pages 9 and 10)." – Kim Cea, award-winning comic and Broadway actress

"Politics is so offensive today that we need an antidote, and John Clifton's The Forbidden Political Dictionary offers one of the best -- laughter! Along the way it offers insight into how politicians avoid real debate by using obfuscating verbiage and encourages us to see through their rhetoric and speak truth to power!" – Mark Bruce Rosin, co-author of My Mind Is Not Always My Friend: A Guide For How To Not Get In Your Own Way

“I opened John Clifton's book with some trepidation, since I'm a knee-jerk liberal, and to my surprise I found it totally charming. He doesn't use a bludgeon, but instead is witty and fresh with his definitions and I think it's lovely and fun. It would be a great stocking stuffer for political wonks!”
– Nancy Thomas, Washington D.C.


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