What People Are Saying
"Language is power, and powerful. It can uplift, or harm. Helio Fred Garcia is an astute student of language and communication. This book offers historic examples, keen insights and valuable advice on recognizing patterns of language that can harm or lead to violence."
David Lapan, Colonel, USMC (ret),
Former Pentagon and DHS spokesman
“Words on Fire serves as a guiding light during this dark moment in our history. I wish every American would read this timely, urgently-needed, well-written, easy to read-and-understand book.
During this time of pervasive rhetoric of hate and division in our blessed country, at a time when such original analyses and solutions are scarce, every citizen should read this book if we are to save our democracy.
This urgently needed book contains original ideas. It details the causes and the current state of the incendiary language used by
some of our national and local leaders. It includes a call to action and practical tools for leaders and citizens. And it offers useful guidance to all those who are the subject of incendiary language in the public square or private life.”
Khizr Khan, Gold Star Parent, Immigrant American
“Drawing on history and his deep expertise in communications, Helio Fred Garcia documents how Trump's barrage of hate, divisiveness, falsehoods, and triggering are even uglier and more dangerous than we thought, right out of the autocrat's playbook. During the Nixon administration, John Dean blew the whistle on the 'cancer growing on the presidency.' Words on Fire provides a clear and alarming CAT-scan of the cancer growing from this presidency, and a highly readable guide to how we can call out and combat Trump's toxic language and malignant agenda, pushing back against the corrosive forces that enable Trumpism and put our country in such peril.”
Evan Wolfson, Founder of Freedom to Marry
“Many of us were taught a lie as youngsters that sticks and stones can break our bones, but words will never hurt us. Fred courageously, graphically and powerfully illustrates that it is words on fire that bloodlessly, without scars or visible traces cause deep internal permanent damage while often triggering accompanying physical damage. And that if we remain silent one victim incinerated by words on fire damages the rest of us.
Words On Fire should be mandatory reading and a guide book for every reporter and editor anywhere. Journalists have significant responsibility for spreading the flames of intentionally
incendiary, punitive, abusive language. There should be ethical and cultural sanctions for mindlessly but intentionally originating or transmitting dangerous language. Every business school needs to develop courses for managers and leaders in detoxifying and extinguishing fiery, intentionally emotional and harmful language, whatever the source, followed by every religious leader and elected official. Important institutions in our society and culture have the affirmative responsibility to stand up and speak out against the users and use of words on fire.”
James E. Lukaszewski, America’s Crisis Guru ®
"Seldom does a reader find a book that helpfully combines autobiography, history, communication, warnings, politics, sociology, patriotism, and guides for correcting destructive wrongs and protecting basic rights. But here is such a book.
Words on Fire will move readers emotionally by way of personal stories about the power of communication, beneficially frighten citizens by describing dangerous attacks on our democracy, convincingly alert conscientious individuals to words and actions that lead to violence and to insights that introduce words and strategies of positive change.
On every page of Words on Fire a proven expert on communication enables his readers to understand both the benefits and threats of words that inevitably alter the directions of an important person or the values of a nation.
As a proven scholar in communication, Helio Fred Garcia identifies rhetorical vocabularies that breed violence, affirm autocracy, and prompt terrorism as well as critical responses to those developments that serve as antidotes to trouble and strategies for building a better, more equitable, world.
If readers of Helio Fred Garcia are not awakened by rhetoric that divides people and foments violence as well as the author’s helpful responses that inspire a vocabulary of civility and movements for cooperation, our nation is playing with fire.
A noted scholar in communication helps us understand both negatively the dangerous rhetoric of division and hate and positively the skills of speaking the langue of unity and democracy.
Reading this distinguished author, noted for his expertise in communication, carefully provides for his readers insights into the motivation, language, and consequences of hate, autocracy, violence, and terrorism as well as evokes a will and multiple words that inspire and strengthen strategies for inclusion, cooperation, true patriotism, and a better world.
Helio Fred Garcia helps readers understand what most people cannot find understandable about perpetrators of hate and unpatriotic threats to democracy extant in our nation. Thankfully, readers of Words on Fire will see with great clarity documented truths that every citizen needs to know and react to responsibly."
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President Emeritus, Interfaith Alliance
"Words can HURT. Words can cause suffering, pain, injury, even death. Conceptually, we all know this. In reality, many people, intentionally or not, unleash words whose consequences are, at the least, unsettling if not fatal. That old saw about "sticks and stones" was a lie.
In WORDS ON FIRE, Helio Fred Garcia calls to task those in power who sling words maliciously or, even worse, heartlessly. As is no surprise, the US political climate and the present occupant of the White House are the focus of this book. Garcia begins this hard-to-put-down book by showing what happens when leaders
"...begin using language in dangerous ways." He reaches back to good and not-so-good examples over the past few decades to demonstrate "...twelve forms of communication that provide the social conditions that lead people to accept, condone, or commit violence." Fred then goes on to show how the current occupant of the White House uses and abuses these twelve forms of communications and, in no uncertain terms, how that abuse leads directly or indirectly to harm and violence. After he has already described horrific examples over the years, the parallels to the current environment are obvious and horrifying.
There are many books about abuse of power, and I expect there will be many more written about the current administration. This book is about abuse of words. To be clear, this book is not directly about atrocities, terrorism, bad politics or violence. Words On Fire is specifically about the power of words, and how that power leads to atrocities, terrorism, bad politics or violence. "Communication has the power to change people, to change societies, and to change the world. Communication has the power to comfort, to inspire, to liberate. Communication also has the power to terrify, to demoralize, and to oppress." as the opening paragraph of this book explains. In this respect, this book puts the current administration on trial for its malicious and mostly uncaring use and abuse of words.
Fred's book inspired me to always choose my words more carefully, regardless of audience. It also stirred up powerful emotions. However, it left me with a sense of cautious optimism that the current political climate is not a foreshadowing of things to come, but rather a passing phase. Read this book."
Philip Jan Rothstein, FBCI, President, Rothstein Associates Inc.