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You Talkin' To Me?: Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama [Format Kindle]

Sam Leith
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Présentation de l'éditeur

Rhetoric is what gives words power. It's nothing to be afraid of. It isn't the exclusive preserve of politicians: it's everywhere, from your argument with the insurance company to your plea to the waitress for a table near the window. It convicts criminals (and then frees them on appeal). It causes governments to rise and fall, best men to be shunned by brides, and people to march with steady purpose towards machine guns.

In this highly entertaining (and persuasive) book, Sam Leith examines how people have taught, practised and thought about rhetoric from its Attic origins to its twenty-first century apotheosis. Along the way, he tells the stories of its heroes and villains, from Cicero and Erasmus, to Hitler, Obama - and Gyles Brandreth.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Rhetoric matters! 2 août 2014
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
A brilliant book that examines how words are used to persuade.
A gem.
Read this before you write (or say) another word.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.3 étoiles sur 5  9 commentaires
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Valuable guide to a fascinating field 13 novembre 2011
Par Bill Fleming - Publié sur
This book brings into focus an area of human endeavour you might otherwise not notice, surrounded as you are from birth to death by examples good and bad.

The vague notions we have about rhetoric are marshalled and brought into focus, never to be forgotten.

The glossary is particularly valuable, the examples amusing and apt.

Just two smallish blemishes I noticed:

"Logos" has a place of honour in the opening of John's Gospel, not the first words of Genesis.

It was Glendower, not Hotspur, who said he could summon spirits from the vasty deep. Hotspur pooh-poohed the claim.
11 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 GREEKS, ROMANS AND BLOKES 14 novembre 2011
Par DAVID BRYSON - Publié sur
This is a very engaging and readable book, really quite scholarly too, on a subject that does not deserve to be considered dry and academic, or not dry anyway. Rhetoric is all about verbal communication, and although not all such communication amounts to rhetoric Sam Leith is right in saying that we all talk more rhetoric than maybe we think we do. I just regret that he helped himself to a familiar but specious analogy with prose right at the start. With all respect to Moliere, we do not go around speaking prose, unless we happen to be Henry James or de Gaulle. Germaine Greer made the point admirably when she said that lecturers speak prose, but only when lecturing. Otherwise they talk ordinary talk like the rest of us. And while I am in niggling mode I suggest that what Sam has to say about poetry on pp125/6 is not about poetry at all, even if he gets the thought from Auden. It is about verse. Poetry is on another page altogether, beautifully and simply described by Housman (in prose of course, this being a lecture on Swinburne) as `a tone of voice, a way of saying things'. Indeed, although the great Attic orators were obsessive about avoiding runs of three short syllables they did not seem to mind, perhaps even not to notice, that they were sometimes turning out half or even whole hexameter lines in the course of socking it to the great unwashed in the agora. Rhetoric can be found in prose or in verse, verse can be found in prose, and poetry is a different sort of entity altogether, cropping up wherever the inspiration alights.

The point about the metrical lines in prose comes from History and the Homeric Iliad by the late Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge, Denys Page. It comes surrounded with terrifying erudition, but the discovery has a schoolboy enthusiasm about it, and that is something that this book shares with it in a minor way. The structure of the book derives from Cicero, Quintilian and a volume once thought to be by Cicero and known as Ad Herennium. These works are handbooks, but Sam is not (or I think not) concerned to write another of those. He is convinced of the importance of his subject, for what it amounts to so am I, and he is turning out his own book of rhetoric to persuade us of this. His Latin authors form one axis that his book is built around, but Aristotle is another, and one of Sam's prejudices shines through strongly when he touches on this great philosopher. Sam can't help contrasting him with Plato, and if he had said that Plato could shove his everlasting verities I would not have been surprised. Sam is not with Bertrand Russell in thinking Aristotle pedestrian; he loves him for being down-to-earth.

This attitude of mind will likely decide how well you like this book. It is the reverse of the coin, the author's lively and infectious enthusiasm being the obverse. Simply, you may or may not like the blokishness of the style, whatever its foundation in ancient rhetorical theory. Myself, I shall give it a pass without going so far as to come down in its favour. I'll put up with it for the sake of the freshness and enthusiasm that it betokens. There is also a point to be made about memory somewhere in a review, because Sam Leith places not a little stress on it. He takes the ancients' concept of memory uncritically, but to me this does not even make sense. The ancients viewed memory as some kind of separate entity from what is remembered, rather like `the mind' in Ryle's Concept of Mind - a sort of ghost in the machine. As I say, I can make no sense of this. The best definition of memory that I know is Richard Robinson's `remembering is knowing and not forgetting'. The `memory' can be `trained' in much the way we can train ourselves to notice things, but in either case this is just a matter of forming a habit. On this view `memory' is hardly more than a convenient abstraction and manner of speaking, like `the mind' or `the soul'. Memory as a genuine entity belongs in the world of ROM and RAM.

Any inaccuracies that I noticed are too minor to mention in a short review, even the strange word `sublunary', which I suppose might be a compositor's divine afflatus anyway, if they still have compositors these days. The list of contents is admirably and unusually clear, there are footnotes (I should hope so too), and there is a glossary with as much clarification as is required in any given instance of the Greek and Latin terms. I am not attempting to assess this book as if I were reviewing in some academic publication. I would not be competent to do so, but more to the point the book is clearly - indeed aggressively - non-academic in its approach. Sam Leith is practising what he preaches and trying to interest a wider public in something they damn well ought to be better informed about. Speaking as a member of the said public I found the book instructive, entertaining, independent-minded and valuable. Does that amount to a recommendation? Not half; all the way; you said it, et cetera, as they say in the Classics.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Deep and enjoyable 8 octobre 2012
Par Xavier - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I'm enjoying the depth of the analysis as well as the historic review and the acute sense of humor.
It is one of those books I am sure I will re-read once in a while.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The pen, and the mouth, are mightier than the sword! 16 avril 2013
Par still searching - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
It is likely that many people, at least those for whom English is their first language, will have come across at some time in their lives speeches featuring phrases such as `for the people, by the people, of the people'; `I have come to bury Caesar not to praise him' and `We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender', and so on, and been impressed and possibly moved to action by hearing them. Indeed, even if one considers the power of the word in more mundane circumstances than those providing the context for the examples mentioned above it is reasonable to suggest that the ebb and flow of our moods are dictated, at least to some extent, even if unconsciously, by the words we here all the time. Consider, for instance, those which form the book's title: on hearing these emanating from the mouth of Travis Bickle it doesn't take much imagination to surmise the effect produced in the mind of their recipient! In terms of persuasion, then, if the sword (or knife, or gun) is more immediately so, then words can do almost as good a job and, in all likelihood, their effect resonates for much longer down the years.

The book, therefore, is about words and their use as the basic building blocks of rhetoric. Leith does a marvellous job of conveying the aforementioned power, providing snippets of many of the most memorable speeches of ancient and more modern times whilst, in the process, explaining just how their authors best employed those rules first outlined several millennia before the present day by such acknowledged masters of rhetoric as Cicero, Shakespeare, Churchill and Obama: even the Devil and Hitler get a look in!

It is, as might be expected, well written, informative, witty and entertaining and a must read for all who love language and believe in its power to persuade; for better or for worse.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Hugely readable on a topic more important than you might think 15 août 2012
Par Dr. Richard M. Price - Publié sur
Who reads books on ancient rhetoric? This books attempts to interest the modern reader in the tricks of the trade in public speaking. It uses the ancient Greek (or Latin) terms, but gives many examples from the great speeches of recent times -- by Abraham Lincoln, Obama and others -- and even from popular culture and music. The commentary is consistently lively and witty, yet without falling into vulgarity (except, perhaps, in the examples given in the glossary of rhetorical terms at the end of the volume). Anyone interested in how speakers manipulate their audiences, or having to speak in public himself/herself, will find this fascinating -- and surely all of us are at least in the first of these categories. Most works of 'haute vulgarisation' are either too vulgar, or not quite vulgar enough. But this is a masterpiece, by a natural communicator.
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