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When Life and Choice Collide. (Athenaeum).

David Mall, Ed.

Designed by Carol Tornatore/Composed by Ingrid Mauer

Kairos Books, 1994

When Life and Choice Collide is a collection of 15 essays on rhetoric and abortion. It is the first volume of 9 volumes of the Words in Conflict Series and expands on the efficacy of rhetoric in defining social values.

Words can skillfully shape attitudes that affect every social consciousness. This volume of words dissects how cultural values are formed.

In the Introduction, the editor admits to partisanship in the abortion debate (Mall is pro-life). With a few exceptions, however, the thoroughness and academic approach to communication, as well as the role of language in social conflict could have just as easily been written from a nonpartisan viewpoint.

This book discusses barriers to communication and explores language and the shaping of both public opinion and personal persuasion. For instance, a poignant analysis of Newsweek's treatment of the Supreme Court's interpretation of third trimester abortions over a three year period is a must for every student or scholar of communication.

Mall's skill as a rhetorician of social movements is displayed in his own piece, which critiques Hill and Knowlton's public information project for the U.S. Catholic Conference. Mall uses pictorial examples of the advertisements themselves and compares the visuals that employ cognitive moral developmentalism and the role public relations firms can and do play in guiding social discourse.

When Life and Choice Collide is a useful tool for other non-violent social movements as well. The essayists liberally compare victims of racism, war, and genocide with the unborn in their discussions of historical oppression and strategies for persuasion. For example, Monica Migliorino Miller, Ph.D., explains the role of ignorance and fear in prejudice and how semantics strengthens or weakens civil rights.

The book is enhanced with a thorough index and has a biography of the authors. Each of the parts is introduced with an abstract of the essay. Extensive notes follow many of the articles. I found myself going back through the essays and finding paragraphs that were footnoted with information that frequently was more interesting than the text itself.

At a time when we are overwhelmed with communication technology that affects our every social consciousness, When Life and Choice Collide offers hope in controlling how we shape and how we are shaped by words.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Feminism and Nonviolence Studies Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Crossed, Carol
Publication:Studies in Prolife Feminism
Date:Sep 22, 1995
Words:389
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