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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is my first foray into the series `A Very Short Introductions'. I was intrigued by the premise that these titles were intended to give the reader a jump start in subject in a reasonably short, straight forward and concise fashion. The topic here, being `Rhetoric' the ability for people through speech or the written word to attempt to enlighten, influence, or encourage particular audiences in specific situations to their point of view/theory. For me the book seemed to given over more the take of the subject through history and its importance as a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, and the role that rhetoric has played with in the Western tradition. Like other reviewers have commented I found it initially a hard book to get into, but once there I felt the `journey' was worthwhile. All in all a good productive read and hence my 4 star rating.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction, in common with others of its series, is neither particularly short, nor limited to an introduction. It is a detailed and extensive short paperback which introduces the principles of classical rhetoric, its history, and then considers current questions in discourse analysis. It is supplemented (rather oddly for an introduction) with exercises, and also has a good bibliography.

Rhetoric, the author argues, is treated as something rather suspect, but we all indulge in it, even if we are opposing it. The rhetor (not rhetorician, as sometimes described) may be using plain-speaking as a rhetorical technique just as much as he or she can use the full range of classical techniques finishing with the peroration.

Author Richard Toye lectures in rhetoric, and does a 5 minute pitch for his course to students. Parts of this book echo Toye's desire to persuade students to value a subject which has gone out of fashion. I find that he makes a good case.

Students of history, literature and history will benefit from the knowledge of rhetoric as it used to be taught which this book imparts. Students of politics will find Toye's analytical techniques useful for decoding and deconstructing speeches. Equally, readers like me who have always intended to find about about rhetoric, but have never done so, will enjoy it for the gap it fills in their knowledge.

Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 10 September 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Can't go wrong with the Very Short Introduction To... series. Don't be fooled by the name: these are NOT dummies' guides or some such. They're pocket sized and tend to be written by experts in the field, with no dumbing down whatsoever. Brevity, rather than oversimplification, is their MO. (I recall basing a half-decent uni essay on Peter Singer's coverage of Marx's theory of history in his VSIT!) Anyway this one's by Richard Toye, who has written widely on modern British and international political and economic history and concerns rhetoric i.e. the art of effective speaking/writing. Toye is well placed to comment, having previously published a very fine account of Churchill's wartime speaches. Here, in 100 odd pages, he presents a very comprehensive historical account of origins, development and 'scaffolding' (as he calls it) of rhetoric. Recommended for those with an interst in the subject.
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VINE VOICEon 11 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is my third 'Very Short Introductions' book and I have found it as interesting and informative as the others.
Rhetoric is seen in a negative light now, but was taught as a discrete subject in the past. It was respected and many influential figures were students of rhetoric. Now, when rhetoric is mentioned, it is seen as the device of politicians and spin doctors. It is, however, an important way of developing thought processes and communicating opinions.
This book is a great introductory study of the history of rhetoric, its influence over the ages and its uses in the modern world. Excellent reading material!
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VINE VOICEon 11 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The OUP collection of Very Short Introductions now stretches to more than 300 topics. I must admit that if I had the money, I would try to assemble a complete set of them. Rather like the BBC Radio 4 institution 'In Our Time', they are fascinating initial insight into a whole range of topics. Always intelligently written and cogently argued, they don't speak down to the reader but still manage to remain accessible.

I have long wanted to know more about Rhetoric - as I know it is something that Shakespeare made great use of (and he is one of my main areas of interest) and so I snapped up with little volume with eager anticipation.

It is, as is to be expected with this series, a well-constructed and well-written introduction to rhetoric and how it has been used throughout history. It has proven to be an interesting and engaging read.

I would, perhaps, have liked a little more of an exploration of the technical terms within the world of rhetoric - but I am sure other volumes cover this in more than adequate detail. This is, when all said and done, a very short introduction.

Long may the OUP continue to commission and publish these little gems.
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on 8 September 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The study of rhetoric (what I would normally associate with the idea of discourse analysis) is quite a niche area, and so it shows how enormous this 'Very Short Introductions' series has become that a book is devoted to the topic.

I'm glad it has been, though, because it's a well-written, well-researched, and really quite practical volume. Don't be deceived by its size - it's packed with research and practices that rhetors have used to improve their communication.

My only complaint is that it reads a little too much like a text book at times - there are regular exercises, some of which really require you to be in a room of other people studying the topic of rhetoric. Which, lets face it, is unlikely. I'm led to suspect that the author has rather-too-hastily cut down one of his other books on the subject, and hasn't quite thought about the audience. Hence the four, rather than five, stars.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am becoming rather fond of Oxford's A Very Short Introduction series of books - although they are not really very short and generally contain a lot more than just an introduction! This volume is concerned with rhetoric and will be of interest to anyone with a love of language or involved with public speaking. Rhetoric has had a rather bad press and is often viewed in a negative light. Richard Toye presents his subject knowledgably and explores the purpose and historical context of the art of persuasion. We all have to deal with rhetoric at times in our lives and this little volume will be of interest to many - try Amazon's Click to Look Inside feature to see if you are one of them. You can also see a list of other titles in the series by doing this.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have been totally won over by the 'A very short introduction' series of books.

Since buying Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) for Uni way back in 2008 I have put together a collection of about 20 books.I love the way they cover an area in great detail but without all the fluff. Do not think these are easy reads, they are written by experts and therefore cover a lot of detail. They just cut out all the crap!

They do expect you to have some background so bare that in mind. I really enjoyed their introduction to rhetoric. It took a little longer than usual to get off the ground but was a great read once I got into it!

Enjoy!
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on 21 March 2013
This is a very good overview. While emphasising the need to view rhetoric beyond the populist disdain for the term, it draws out the richness and importance of rhetoric. It fits neatly into the recovery, revival and return to rhetoric that we've witnessed over the last few decades (sorry for the overuse of alliteration!). In a sense it serves its own rhetorical purpose since I'm going to try to persuade a few people to read it!! My only quibble is that more could have been made of the reach which rhetoric has in various academic disciplines, but I accept that this was not really the book's stated remit.
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on 25 August 2014
If rhetoric is the art of persuasion, how can a speaker be sure that the audience is persuaded? And how can the audience work out what, exactly, the speaker means? "This is what seems to fascinate us,” writes Toye in this excellent book, “although pinning it down is infuriatingly difficult.”

Difficult, partly, because we can’t argue without using rhetoric. When Kennedy famously said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, the repetition of words in reverse order actually formulates the idea. “Rhetoric,” says Toye, “is not merely the means by which ideas are expressed, it is also the means by which they are generated.”

This is one of his major themes. Another is that rhetorical meaning is generated socially. Too much discussion of rhetoric stalls at geeky chat about figures of speech. Toye deepens the conversation. Rhetoric isn’t solely about style; its reception depends on the norms of the society in which it’s delivered.

Toye outlines the story of rhetoric in a superb potted history. He's particularly good on the great 20th figures, who redefined the terms of the debate in terms of identification rather than persuastion: Richards, Ong, Austin, Burke.

Rhetoric matters. To explicate this shaggy beast in 35,000 words is no small challenge, and Toye succeeds with a consistently light touch. He wants to empower us; but he also warns us about the limits of such empowerment. Above all, he says, understanding rhetoric “helps people to assess the validity of arguments and to avoid being misled by plausible but flawed appeals. It can also provide tools that will help counter them.”

Spot on.

A longer version of this review appears at:

http://justwriteonline.typepad.com/distributed_intelligence/2013/08/telling-it-like-it-is.html
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