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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (548 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Neil Postman Narrator: Jeff Riggenbach Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2007 ISBN: 9781455173167
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From the vogue for nubile models to the explosion in the juvenile crime rate, this modern classic of social history and media traces the precipitous decline of childhood in America today—and the corresponding threat to the notion of adulthood.

Deftly marshaling a vast array of historical and demographic research, Neil Postman suggests that childhood is a relatively recent invention, which came into being as the new medium of print imposed divisions between children and adults. But now these divisions are eroding under the barrage of television, which turns the adult secrets of sex and violence into popular entertainment and pitches both news and advertising at the intellectual level of ten-year olds. Informative, alarming, and aphoristic, The Disappearance of Childhood is a triumph of history and prophecy.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “No contemporary essayist writing about America…culture is more fun to read.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Postman persuasively mobilizes the insights of psychology, history, semantics, McLuhanology, and common sense on behalf of his astonishing and original thesis.”

    Victor Navasky, professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

  • “[An] astonishing and original thesis.”

    Victor Navasky, professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jush | 2/16/2014

    " This book gives the fascinating history of childhood. Further, he explores the place that the invention of the printing press, literacy, television and beyond play in childhood. He calls for parents to raise an elite group of children who can read! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Stacey | 2/16/2014

    " Okay, I don't know why this book got so many good reviews. I think the thesis is interesting, but I just think he's plain old WRONG. He bases childhood on the development of the printing press. He says that the inability for children to read has allowed children to be spared "adult" topics such as sex. He says that the disappearance of childhood is due to the proliferation of media - mostly television, and how television must use horrendous contents such as incest to entertain the public because tv is on all the time, and i just think he's wrong. I couldn't finish the last 80 pages or so. He has sources, but his bibliography seems astonishingly short. His assertions are vague and not backed up by scientific research... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maggie | 2/13/2014

    " this was an book with interesting ideas that stimulated my thinking and sharpened my observation on current cultural events and whereas i cannot accept in a blanket way either his thesis or the evidence he presents for it nor can i disregard the ideas that he presents. my awareness of what i am seeing and how to understand what might be going on has been seriously sharpened by reading this book. well worth our time in order to clarify what it is we think we are seeing when we look upon the dramatic changes in childhood that is occurring in the twenty-first century. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Theryn Fleming | 2/12/2014

    " In TDoC, Postman posits that childhood (which he defines as age 7-17; under 7 = infants) is a social artifact, not a biological category (I think this is a stretch). Anyway, his point is that prior to widespread literacy, there were no "children" per se because it was impossible to keep adult activities apart from youth. The introduction of print created a secret world that youth ("children") had to earn a right to be a part of by learning to read. Because electronic media don't have the same learning curve, they reverse this child/adult divide. Hence, "the disappearance of childhood." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mattmiller | 2/7/2014

    " Very, very interesting. Neil Postman was an amazingly insightful guy. I think his cultural analysis is second to none. This book tracks how "childhood" came to be and why we are in danger of losing it. I wish that he would have lived a while longer to include how the internet has furthered this process. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adria Tingey | 2/5/2014

    " Not my favorite Neil Postman, but still so many, many things to think about. I agree with his major premises but I think that a more accurate description of what is going on in the US today would be called "The Disappearance of Adulthood." He does go over this idea too, and I agree with what he says. In my recent research on education, I have searched for the author who would say "home-school is not the true way," so that I could claim I had read both sides. I think I have found my man. He being one of my favorite authors anyway, I am doubly inclined to take what he says seriously, so my research actually will be well-rounded. Anyway, I still believe in home school, but I also believe in the disappearance of childhood. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lumumba Shakur | 1/18/2014

    " Postman's basic premise is that television has so radically altered Western society that it is eroding childhood as a social construction as it had been conceived since Enlightenment. His premise is heavily Eurocentric, but nonetheless has a great deal of merit. However, I believe that in 2013, history has demonstrated that huge parallel proposition of his theory has perhaps become even more manifest with very few people seeing it as concerning. Adulthood has been so thoroughly infantalized through neurological justifications that to completely unchallenged that my mother (may she rest in peace) showed me where her medical textbooks declared that the defining age of childhood is 28. Us now being in the Internet age, his theory is appears prophetic. Speaking back in the early 80s, how much more has widespread Internet access and the successful marketing of Internet reliant technology brought children into the adult world? This was a groundbreaking work in its time, but I believe that Consumed is an updated extension of Postman's original. If there was ever an argument to shield children from technology as much as possible, his book makes it case and does so with a great deal of persuasion. It must stated that I do not agree with all of his ideas, most those ideologically rooted, but I would like to read his more recent works to see how his ideas have progressed with time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacy Wood | 1/17/2014

    " A really interesting insight into what happened to childhood and how it is redefined now. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Babak | 1/11/2014

    " need to read this again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elio Nakouzi | 1/11/2014

    " This guy is WAY ahead of his time! More relevant today than ever, Neil describes the new form of adult-child which results from electronic communication media... Excellent! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marci | 12/5/2013

    " This isn't a summer beach read, but it is great from a sociological and historical perspective about childhood as a social artifact. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 10/26/2013

    " I am a huge Postman fan, but I still claim "Technopoly" as his masterpiece. Although "Disappearance" is informative and certainly argued and evidenced well, it lacked the punch I was expecting as to the various reasons behind today's disappearing childhoods. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terri | 10/14/2013

    " Interesting, informative... loved this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve | 5/25/2013

    " I'm a fan of Postman's work. His criticisms of society do not bother me. This book and a couple of his others (Technoply and Amusing Ourselves to Death) specifically, reflect the truth. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather Johnson | 12/17/2012

    " Love the history of the Middle Ages - interesting facts. Clearly outlined, but disagree with many of the conclusions drawn in the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 5/8/2012

    " Wonderful discussion on the trends of childhood. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marcus | 4/25/2012

    " Fantastic. For me this was a life changing book (we threw away our TV shortly after) with thoughtful investigative approach which encompasses wider social structures, particularly literacy levels. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kristi | 1/12/2012

    " This isn't what I thought it would be. The first chapter bored me and I don't know that I buy into the authors claims. Oh well. Win some, lose some. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 William | 10/3/2011

    " Got to be one of the most important books on child development...by a writer who puts together those, "How the heck did he do that" sentences. Worth reading, then re-reading to get it all. What book about childhood development starts with a history of the printing press. Money! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Georges | 9/25/2011

    " The best book on this topic. I would recommend for everyone who wants a better understanding of our time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb Amend | 9/18/2011

    " Interesting read. He makes some big assumptions about the definition of childhood within our culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 8/27/2011

    " Interesting, if somewhat outdated. It was a lot briefer than I expected so there wasn't as much detail as I would have hoped, or sociological data. All the stuff about the printing press was interesting, but perhaps took up too much space in a book that was less than 200 pages total. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb | 1/28/2011

    " Interesting read. He makes some big assumptions about the definition of childhood within our culture. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel | 7/5/2010

    " Rating based on the first four chapters, the only ones I was required to read for the class I'm in. This is a book I hope, someday, to come back to and read in full though. This reminds me that I also need to reread Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" at some point. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terri | 5/25/2010

    " Interesting, informative... loved this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jush | 11/10/2009

    " This book gives the fascinating history of childhood. Further, he explores the place that the invention of the printing press, literacy, television and beyond play in childhood. He calls for parents to raise an elite group of children who can read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 William | 6/11/2009

    " Got to be one of the most important books on child development...by a writer who puts together those, "How the heck did he do that" sentences. Worth reading, then re-reading to get it all. What book about childhood development starts with a history of the printing press. Money! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joshua | 5/13/2009

    " This book compelled my assent at virtually every point. At least 99% of parents and educators should read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 4/4/2009

    " Wonderful discussion on the trends of childhood. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 CC | 3/12/2009

    " Fantastic! My first Neil Postman and did I like it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aoife | 2/26/2009

    " Interesting, if somewhat outdated. It was a lot briefer than I expected so there wasn't as much detail as I would have hoped, or sociological data. All the stuff about the printing press was interesting, but perhaps took up too much space in a book that was less than 200 pages total. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kristi | 1/6/2009

    " This isn't what I thought it would be. The first chapter bored me and I don't know that I buy into the authors claims. Oh well. Win some, lose some. "

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About the Author
Author Neil Postman

Neil Postman (1931–2003) was chairman of the Department of Communication Arts at New York University and founder of its Media Ecology program. He wrote more than twenty books. His son Andrew Postman is the author of five books, and his work appears in numerous publications.

About the Narrator

Jeff Riggenbach has narrated numerous titles for Blackstone Audio and won an AudioFile Earphones Award. An author, contributing editor, and producer, he has worked in radio in San Francisco for the last thirty years, earning a Golden Mike Award for journalistic excellence.