You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Sam Leith

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You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Sam Leith

Category: Popular Science
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A witty and erudite look at rhetoric from it's Attic origins through to the 21st century. A book to read and refer to.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: October 2011
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN: 978-1846683152

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Over the years I've trained myself (fairly successfully) not to judge a book by its cover. I've added 'not judging a book by its title' to the training, but what do you do when your first impressions of a book - the title and the cover - scream 'trivia'? Well, I put this one to one side on the basis that it really wasn't likely to be a book which would interest me. Picking it up and looking at the contents was almost accidental - and then I discovered that this book is a gold mine.

It's about rhetoric - the art of verbal persuasion - and Sam Leith examines its development from its Attic origins through to the twenty-first century. Sounds dry? Well, it does but the telling is witty and erudite, interesting and informative. You'll look at the heroes and villains of the art, from Hitler and George W Bush to Homer Simpson. Yes - Homer Simpson. This isn't just a look at the formal speech, but at popular culture and even advertising. It's a persuasive book looking at how we are persuaded - or not.

If you're looking for a few quick hints for the Best Man's speech, or the retirement party for Fred from accounts then this isn't the book for you. If, on the other hand, you're looking to understand how a persuasive speech is built - the bricks and mortar of it - then it's essential reading. I found it a slow read, for all the right reasons. There's a lot to take in, to learn and to consider. I found myself constantly referring to the glossary at the back. Occultatio is now second nature, my isocolon is second to none and I am renowned for my kairos. I'm au fait with the three appeals, the three branches of oratory, the five parts of rhetoric and the six parts of a speech.

This might sound very technical - indeed it is - but you'll find that you've been using much of it unconsciously. Like the man who was surprised to realise that he'd been using prose all these years - a great deal of this book is about putting a name to what you do already and learning to use it more effectively. It's a book to read and enjoy (did I mention that it's very witty?) and to keep so that you can refer to it later.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. If this book appeals then we think that you might also enjoy The Story Of English In 100 Words by David Crystal.

Buy You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Sam Leith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Sam Leith at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Sam Leith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama by Sam Leith at Amazon.com.


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