Review by Choice Review
This book's content is best revealed in its subtitle. The author's intent is to identify the dynamics of face-to-face interactions that fall short of mutual understanding. Mortensen (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison) ranges over the entire spectrum of interpersonal communication, locating and examining the ways humans misconstruct and misconstrue communication. Although he claims successful communication is a collective achievement of the highest order, he examines in minute detail every aspect of failure to achieve this goal. Through ten chapters ranging from misconstruction to disagreement to misunderstanding to repair mechanisms, he points out failures in each of these areas. This makes the book not a guide to achieve more successful communication but rather a semitheoretical examination of communication failure. The writing is prolix, obtuse, and repetitive. Breakdowns in communication are a long-standing concern of academics, and hundreds of books have been dedicated to this problem. Among them are Jurgen Habermas's Communication and the Evolution of Society (CH, Sep'79) and Anthony Wilden's System and Structure: Essays in Communication and Exchange (2nd ed., 1980), both profound and more readable than the present title. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Graduate and research collections. R. Cathcart emeritus, CUNY Queens College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.