Book Review: Thank You For Arguing
Author: Jay Heinrichs
Updated Edition. Three Rivers Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780385347754. 432 pages.
After group class the other day, one of the participants and I got into a conversation about oratory and rhetoric. And I can’t talk about rhetoric without recommending my favourite book about speaking.
If you don’t have Jay Heinrichs Thank You For Arguing on your bookshelf, you need to buy it. Now. If you only ever get one book on public speaking, make it this one.
This book is outstanding. It’s an engaging, hilarious, and incredibly useful primer on rhetoric and speaking skills. In it, Jay Heinrich`s details key concepts and techniques from the rhetorical and oratorical traditions of ancient Greece and Rome, framed in modern, every-day contexts.
He uses high stakes negotiations with his kids (such as his young son’s insistence on wearing shorts in the dead of winter) to demonstrate basic rhetorical appeals in action. He uses examples from oratorical geniuses such as Barak Obama and Homer Simpson to teach strategic use of important rhetorical devices. He breaks down what could be an overwhelming morass of terms, definitions, and instruction into a fast, entertaining read.
This book is one of my most frequently used references. It`s my go-to resource for questions about rhetoric. I`ve had to purchase multiple copies, having lost them in airports and hotels. My current copy is dog-eared, filled with post-it flags and marginalia. It`s one of my favourite books to pick up and read when I want something fun and funny that doesn`t have to be read cover-to-cover. It`s one of those books that could claim a legitimate place in both the bathroom and the CEO`s desk.
Heinrichs exercises his journalistic and writerly powers to dust off the lost art of rhetoric and turn it into something meaningful and accessible. And in a communication landscape rife with hyperbole, incendiary commentary, obfuscation, and click-bait, it`s critical that we become savvy about rhetoric. Happily, Heinrichs` brisk, light, witty style makes developing that savviness a joy rather than a grind.
Get this book. Read it to become more persuasive. Read it to become a better speaker. Read it for fun. It might end up being one of your favourites, too!