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Words Like Loaded Pistols

Words Like Loaded Pistols

Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama

An entertaining history of great oratory.” — New Yorker

In Words Like Loaded Pistols, Sam Leith traces the art of persuasion, beginning in ancient Syracuse and taking us on detours as varied and fascinating as Elizabethan England, Milton’s Satanic realm, the Springfield of Abraham Lincoln and the Springfield of Homer Simpson. He explains how language has been used by the great heroes of rhetoric (such as Cicero and Martin Luther King Jr.), as well as some villains (like Adolf Hitler and Richard Nixon.) Words Like Loaded Pistols is a primer to rhetoric’s key techniques; you’ll find out how to build your own memory-palace; you’ll be introduced to the Three Musketeers: Ethos, Pathos and Logos; and you’ll learn how to use chiasmus with confidence and occultation without thinking about it. Most importantly of all, you will discover that rhetoric is useful, relevant – and absolutely nothing to be afraid of.
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Genre: Nonfiction / Political Science / History & Theory

On Sale: April 26th 2016

Price: $12.99 / $16.99 (CAD)

Page Count: 336

ISBN-13: 9780465096688

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


"Leith's great gift is the ability to plunder the everyday to illustrate the rarefied.... He describes the development of rhetoric beautifully, and even after the most cursory dip into this, you begin to hear the world in a completely different, illuminated way."—Telegraph (UK)
"Elegant, concise and frequently very funny."—Spectator (UK)
"It is through a welter of colloquial examples and eccentric line readings that the book really comes alive.... While the formal study of rhetoric might have collapsed under its own weight, Leith offers a slimmed-down version that is sure to enlighten."—Financial Times (UK)
"Leith attempts to reclaim rhetoric with a breezy book that sprays around examples from history, politics and popular culture to outline the building blocks of public speech, flitting happily from Cicero to J-Lo, from Hitler to Homer Simpson.... Leith's often engaging examples lighten any sense of learning."—The Observer (UK)
"Engrossing.... When it comes to Obama, Leith's scrutiny is painstaking and he is especially illuminating on Obama's debts to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King."-—Independent (UK)
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"This isn't your parents' rhetoric primer.... Irreverent and funny, Words Like Loaded Pistols is filled with tongue-in-cheek witticisms, slang and unexpected illustrations.... As political rhetoric builds toward November, Leith's subject will be unavoidable. For the coming months, friends, Buckeyes, countrymen, ready your ears."—Plain Dealer
"[A] rambunctious handbook of rhetoric...funny, friendly pages."—Wilson Quarterly
"[A] fascinating examination of the power of words."—Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review
"Timed for a presidential election year, this sassy, smart book outlines and illustrates nearly every rhetorical trope and flourish related to the art of persuasion.... Leith can be fiendishly entertaining."—Publishers Weekly
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