Skip to main content
Shopping cart: items Cart

Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Art of Verbal Warfare

A funny and fascinating exploration of our reliance upon swear words, insults, and the artfully placed expletive, damn it.
We use salty or artful language to win arguments, slander, cheat, and bully, as well as to express feelings of joy or frustration by swearing or “blowing off steam.” Rik Smits delves into the magic of oaths and profanity, art and advertising, the lure of fake news and propaganda, as well as invective and off-color jokes the world over. This book shows why conversation dies in crowded elevators and what drives us to curse at our laptops. The Art of Verbal Warfare is, when all is said and done, the story of how we can get through life without coming to physical blows.

528 pages | 41 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Language and Linguistics: Anthropological/Sociological Aspects of Language, General Language and Linguistics

Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


“If you want to know why you swear, what counts as a potty mouth in other cultures, and why words can hurt more than sticks and stones, then this rampage of a book is for you: it will amuse, embarrass, provoke, enlighten, and annoy the hell out of you about all forms of dirty language—and dirty politics. It is also a passionate defense of the joys and failures Western democracy, liberalism, and rationality—for which using words well really matters.”

Simon Goldhill, professor of Greek, University of Cambridge, fellow of King's College, Cambridge, and foreign secretary of the British Academy

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press