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How to Win an Argument: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Persuasion

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All of us are faced countless times with the challenge of persuading others, whether we're trying to win a trivial argument with a friend or convince our coworkers about an important decision. Instead of relying on untrained instinct--and often floundering or failing as a result--we'd win more arguments if we learned the timeless art of verbal persuasion, rhetoric. How to All of us are faced countless times with the challenge of persuading others, whether we're trying to win a trivial argument with a friend or convince our coworkers about an important decision. Instead of relying on untrained instinct--and often floundering or failing as a result--we'd win more arguments if we learned the timeless art of verbal persuasion, rhetoric. How to Win an Argument gathers the rhetorical wisdom of Cicero, ancient Rome's greatest orator, from across his works and combines it with passages from his legal and political speeches to show his powerful techniques in action. The result is an enlightening and entertaining practical introduction to the secrets of persuasive speaking and writing--including strategies that are just as effective in today's offices, schools, courts, and political debates as they were in the Roman forum. How to Win an Argument addresses proof based on rational argumentation, character, and emotion; the parts of a speech; the plain, middle, and grand styles; how to persuade no matter what audience or circumstances you face; and more. Cicero's words are presented in lively translations, with illuminating introductions; the book also features a brief biography of Cicero, a glossary, suggestions for further reading, and an appendix of the original Latin texts. Astonishingly relevant, this unique anthology of Cicero's rhetorical and oratorical wisdom will be enjoyed by anyone who ever needs to win arguments and influence people--in other words, all of us.


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All of us are faced countless times with the challenge of persuading others, whether we're trying to win a trivial argument with a friend or convince our coworkers about an important decision. Instead of relying on untrained instinct--and often floundering or failing as a result--we'd win more arguments if we learned the timeless art of verbal persuasion, rhetoric. How to All of us are faced countless times with the challenge of persuading others, whether we're trying to win a trivial argument with a friend or convince our coworkers about an important decision. Instead of relying on untrained instinct--and often floundering or failing as a result--we'd win more arguments if we learned the timeless art of verbal persuasion, rhetoric. How to Win an Argument gathers the rhetorical wisdom of Cicero, ancient Rome's greatest orator, from across his works and combines it with passages from his legal and political speeches to show his powerful techniques in action. The result is an enlightening and entertaining practical introduction to the secrets of persuasive speaking and writing--including strategies that are just as effective in today's offices, schools, courts, and political debates as they were in the Roman forum. How to Win an Argument addresses proof based on rational argumentation, character, and emotion; the parts of a speech; the plain, middle, and grand styles; how to persuade no matter what audience or circumstances you face; and more. Cicero's words are presented in lively translations, with illuminating introductions; the book also features a brief biography of Cicero, a glossary, suggestions for further reading, and an appendix of the original Latin texts. Astonishingly relevant, this unique anthology of Cicero's rhetorical and oratorical wisdom will be enjoyed by anyone who ever needs to win arguments and influence people--in other words, all of us.

30 review for How to Win an Argument: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Persuasion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Srividya Vijapure

    Excellent primer on Cicero and Classical Rhetoric. While the book does quote passages at length from Cicero's books, it is an interpretation of his principles on oratory and rhetoric. Extremely interesting and Simon Vance does an excellent job as always in making me want to keep listening to him forever. The examples or passages used are mostly from the trials but the basic rules are those that we can apply anywhere and to any kind of discussion or argument, which makes it a book that can be rea Excellent primer on Cicero and Classical Rhetoric. While the book does quote passages at length from Cicero's books, it is an interpretation of his principles on oratory and rhetoric. Extremely interesting and Simon Vance does an excellent job as always in making me want to keep listening to him forever. The examples or passages used are mostly from the trials but the basic rules are those that we can apply anywhere and to any kind of discussion or argument, which makes it a book that can be read and profited from by one and all. In fact, I would recommend it to all as it is extremely readable and fascinating. As for me, I know I will keep coming back to this one whilst also going onto reading Cicero's original works.

  2. 4 out of 5

    'Izzat Radzi

    You know what they say of classics! It's regretable that I haven't read Aristotle Rhetoric before this. It's a privilege if one is able to read Latin, because the English part is only 140 pages, with the remaining is in the original language. Love the sub-chapter on the notion of memory and writing speech in helping oratory. Though, the best for me, and this is significant throughout the book, is the Chapter : The Value of Imitating Good Models of Speaking; and Background Knowledge of oneself. This t You know what they say of classics! It's regretable that I haven't read Aristotle Rhetoric before this. It's a privilege if one is able to read Latin, because the English part is only 140 pages, with the remaining is in the original language. Love the sub-chapter on the notion of memory and writing speech in helping oratory. Though, the best for me, and this is significant throughout the book, is the Chapter : The Value of Imitating Good Models of Speaking; and Background Knowledge of oneself. This two, personally affect me in the deepest sense, as two of five people who deeply influenced me are well-versed in the skills of oratory. First, is in the build-up of the 2013 General Election. I'm grateful that I -as a media unit (where from there I developed my interest in media studies) -had the chance to accompanied one student leader, amongst many others, in leading the political and the neglected citizens issues; from only dozens of spectators to hundred of thousands, inter-state roadshow to students societies meet-up. Cicero himself trained under two renowned orator in his budding years, while in later help train one as well. Seeing his action first hand and learning, it is as Cicerio suggested, to one who wish to learn must accompany (Arabic :mulazamah) a teacher for some time. The second and most recent is in UK, a senior also I looked up to and deeply respected. In his style meanwhile, one can see his profound reasoning and speech delivery as he accumulates amass background Knowledge and apply Aristotle's Method of Persuasion in argumentation. When he argue -and he rarely does- it is not uncommon to see people were put into absolute silence! Definitely need to learn and practice more.

  3. 4 out of 5

    William Schram

    Everyone in Ancient Rome was expected to be able to argue persuasively and give well-formed arguments. However, even by those standards, Marcus Tullius Cicero was a master of the craft. As such he wrote extensively on the Art of Rhetoric and several other subjects. He lived through troubled times in the Roman Empire and was eventually murdered for his political views. How to Win an Argument chooses a small piece of Cicero’s work that mainly focuses on the Art of Rhetoric and Oratory. So we learn Everyone in Ancient Rome was expected to be able to argue persuasively and give well-formed arguments. However, even by those standards, Marcus Tullius Cicero was a master of the craft. As such he wrote extensively on the Art of Rhetoric and several other subjects. He lived through troubled times in the Roman Empire and was eventually murdered for his political views. How to Win an Argument chooses a small piece of Cicero’s work that mainly focuses on the Art of Rhetoric and Oratory. So we learn about the methods necessary to form arguments and the different aspects of a good argument. The book is selected, edited, and translated by James M May. I have not heard of the man before, and I don’t have any preconceived notions of what sort of voice to give Cicero. Therefore, I find his translations to be adequate. I can’t read Latin and I don’t feel like learning to do so. The book doesn’t really flow all that well. I say this only because of how it is edited; it jumps from subject to subject. First, it starts with different types of arguments: logos, ethos, and pathos. The book is really exhaustive. The translator/editor provides some background to the entry and then goes on to translate Cicero’s take on it. I say it is exhaustive because it also contains the original Latin text and a summation of Cicero’s points. I enjoyed this book. It was and was not in-depth at the same time. The inclusion of the Latin Text makes it somewhat better, so if you can read Latin, maybe you can try to translate it yourself.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Illiterate

    Extracts from Cicero on rhetoric. (This PUP series reprints widely available ancient texts under snazzy but misleading titles.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Petrina Binney

    When I was in my mid-twenties, a friend bought me a metal sign to hang in my house. It read, ‘I don’t need other people around to have an argument.’ She knew me so well. I will say, for those who might think this book is a guide to winning any argument - it is, but under very specific circumstances. There is no winning one-liner to finish the opposition and have them scurrying back to some unknown spot, for a vigorous round of wound-licking, contained within these pages. In fact, what Cicero does i When I was in my mid-twenties, a friend bought me a metal sign to hang in my house. It read, ‘I don’t need other people around to have an argument.’ She knew me so well. I will say, for those who might think this book is a guide to winning any argument - it is, but under very specific circumstances. There is no winning one-liner to finish the opposition and have them scurrying back to some unknown spot, for a vigorous round of wound-licking, contained within these pages. In fact, what Cicero does is break down every aspect of a good speech - whether it is used for a summing up for the jury, or a difference of opinion with a friend. A great speaker must have some natural talent, the ability to sprinkle some glitter on his words, and charm. A great speaker must practise his skills in order to make his performance flawless. He must have a world-beating memory, a working understanding of any number of subjects - not limited to the one he is speaking about, but encompassing pretty much everything that may or may not come up. Each of the skills a great speaker must possess would take a lifetime to learn, and there are many of them to master. I would have thought this book should be recommended reading for every would-be lawyer, politician and business leader in the world. I’m not any of those things but, now that I’ve read the book, I suppose anything is possible.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    We live in a time when I guess the main rule of argument is "If a guy is an idiot, you're doing him a favor to tell him so." This entry into the Princeton U. Press series of selected classics (mostly Cicero and Seneca) is perhaps the least interesting except to students of rhetoric. For them it is a well-designed summary of Cicero's views, excerpted from works he wrote from the age of 17 to shortly before his death. The editor introduces each excerpt with his own explication, sometimes almost as We live in a time when I guess the main rule of argument is "If a guy is an idiot, you're doing him a favor to tell him so." This entry into the Princeton U. Press series of selected classics (mostly Cicero and Seneca) is perhaps the least interesting except to students of rhetoric. For them it is a well-designed summary of Cicero's views, excerpted from works he wrote from the age of 17 to shortly before his death. The editor introduces each excerpt with his own explication, sometimes almost as long as the excerpt itself. The book is possibly the handiest introduction I've seen, breaking the parts of rhetoric into invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery, with subcategories and further explanations. Really more for legal or debate-form argumentation than discussing politics with your crazy uncle over the dinner table. Much of it is common sense, but the analysis and organization is amazing. I'll admit I had a hard time differentiating between the examples of low, medium, and high styles of delivery, possibly because they don't translate well, possibly because all of them were higher and more formal than anything you're likely to hear today.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Matthewson

    I used this in my Honors seminar and it’s a wonderful teaching text!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    This book is a strange and interesting small volume. It appears as if this book is being aimed simultaneously at two very different audiences. One of these audiences is made of people who do not want to read the entirety of Cicero's various writings on rhetoric, both those that discuss him dealing with his approach in a theoretical manner as well as the recorded speeches and other writings of his that demonstrate his rhetorical approach in action, especially in his letters as well as his speeche This book is a strange and interesting small volume. It appears as if this book is being aimed simultaneously at two very different audiences. One of these audiences is made of people who do not want to read the entirety of Cicero's various writings on rhetoric, both those that discuss him dealing with his approach in a theoretical manner as well as the recorded speeches and other writings of his that demonstrate his rhetorical approach in action, especially in his letters as well as his speeches in front of the Senate on behalf of various people and laws and the cause of republican virtue in general and in particular. The other audience is made of people who are willing and able to read, in Latin, Cicero's writings on matters of rhetoric for themselves. Strangely, this book seems to miss an entire (and presumably large) audience of people who would need Cicero in translation because their Latin isn't very strong but at the same time are willing to read more detailed discussion of Cicero's rhetoric explained with some complexity. This book is about 250 pages, but it feels both shorter and longer at the same time. The book begins with a preface and a brief sketch of Cicero's life to set the context for his material on rhetoric. After that the book discusses how to win an argument. This begins with the origins of eloquent and persuasive speech in nature, art, and practice on the one hand, and rhetoric and truth on the other. After this the author talks about the parts of rhetoric, including invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. After this comes a look at the value of imitating good models of speaking, the value of writing in order to prepare for effective speaking, as well as the requirements and education of the ideal speaker, who is supposed to be able to address the common person but also be knowledgeable about a great many subjects in order to effectively bring up useful material to prove one's point or refute one's opponents. This takes up a bit less than 150 pages, and it is clear that a book this short would not be published, at least in the contemporary publishing climate, and so at this point there is a brief cheat sheet for effective speaking from Cicero's writings, and then the rest of the book is mostly made up of Latin texts without translation that go on for about 80 pages. Then, at this point, we have the glossary, suggestions for further reading, and text credits. All in all, this book is a relatively short one and an easy enough one to appreciate, even if its appeal is rather limited and divided. I find it hard to imagine that the same readers who will love the book's focus on Latin are going to be as enamored with the fact that the book's quotations from Cicero are so limited in nature and the depth of discussion about them is so surface-level as well. Likewise, it seems hard to imagine those whose interest in this book is most focused on the superficial discussion of rhetoric are going to be interested in reading the lengthy Latin quotations that make up the second part of the book. It just seems as if this book needs a third section in the middle to bridge the gap between the material that seems made for politicians who can only read short things and Latin classicists who want to tear into the subtlety of Cicero's language. Perhaps other readers can help me to figure out how these two very different reading audiences are being served and whether the whole book can be appreciated easily by the same people. It is puzzling to see a book that switches so abruptly from one sort of book to another without any warning.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Lister

    This book is a collection of excerpts from Cicero’s writings which are translated and compiled by James May. He also includes helpful introductions to each section. The organization is superb. This is a quick and easy introduction, great for anyone new to Cicero or Classical Rhetoric. It also serves as an excellent companion to Rhetorica Ad Herennium. Ad Herennium is a text book written in the Roman rhetorical tradition and May’s compilation shows examples of Cicero putting the content into prac This book is a collection of excerpts from Cicero’s writings which are translated and compiled by James May. He also includes helpful introductions to each section. The organization is superb. This is a quick and easy introduction, great for anyone new to Cicero or Classical Rhetoric. It also serves as an excellent companion to Rhetorica Ad Herennium. Ad Herennium is a text book written in the Roman rhetorical tradition and May’s compilation shows examples of Cicero putting the content into practice.

  10. 4 out of 5

    The_J

    In a tome of wisdom, I think that the best was to move a jury or audience reflect their essence so that you are moved by the message. In addition this pearl: If we consider our leisure time, what can be more pleasant or more properly human than to be able to engage in elegant conversation and show oneself a stranger to no subject?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex Pizzoni

    Interesting book and includes quotes from the time of Marcus Tullius Cicero; excerpts from stories are shown to help in winning arguments. I found it a hard read and the last 1/3 of the book has scripts from stories in Latin. Great for someone who is an avid reader of classical civilization books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Richard Mulholland

    You can't beat the classics. In this case that isn't hyperbolic, this was a fantastic listen. So good in fact I have immediately bought the Kindle version to make more notes. You can't beat the classics. In this case that isn't hyperbolic, this was a fantastic listen. So good in fact I have immediately bought the Kindle version to make more notes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ostreaf

    A fun read, but felt that I already knew most of what was in the book as it seems obvious. Also, the book is more about "how to do a speech" than how to win an argument. A fun read, but felt that I already knew most of what was in the book as it seems obvious. Also, the book is more about "how to do a speech" than how to win an argument.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mitch

    I picked this book up on a whim at an art museum gift shop. In my haste, I didn't realize that only around 130 pages were in English, and the rest in Latin. Still, this was a very interesting read and it was well edited and arranged. I'm happy to have it on my shelf for future reference, or if I ever decide to try my hand at Latin in the future. I found it interesting how many of the topics covered felt like "common sense". How to arrange an argument seems like something most of us learned activ I picked this book up on a whim at an art museum gift shop. In my haste, I didn't realize that only around 130 pages were in English, and the rest in Latin. Still, this was a very interesting read and it was well edited and arranged. I'm happy to have it on my shelf for future reference, or if I ever decide to try my hand at Latin in the future. I found it interesting how many of the topics covered felt like "common sense". How to arrange an argument seems like something most of us learned actively or passively at some point in school- but much of those fundamentals date back to the ancients. It just goes to show how much the ancients have influenced our lives and education!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tarek Masri

    This book is a great collection of selections from Cicero's works regarding the art of rhetoric. The editor's choices and the connections he draws between them make up a very connected and fluid continuity; it feels like the book was originally written as a single text. This makes the text very accessible and easy to read. The editor uses actual anecdotes and speeches delivered by notable ancient orators (mainly Cicero) to highlight different aspects of the art of rhetoric. These increase the his This book is a great collection of selections from Cicero's works regarding the art of rhetoric. The editor's choices and the connections he draws between them make up a very connected and fluid continuity; it feels like the book was originally written as a single text. This makes the text very accessible and easy to read. The editor uses actual anecdotes and speeches delivered by notable ancient orators (mainly Cicero) to highlight different aspects of the art of rhetoric. These increase the historical value of this text and make the text an effective window into the courtrooms and courtyards of ancient times. Cicero is famous for being one of history's greatest orators, so these speeches and anecdotes are mostly very interesting to read. The actual content of the book is nothing spectacular though, so do not expect detailed or unusual strategies. In retrospect, most of the information would seem "obvious", since the book mainly covers the general aspects of proper speaking and writing that have found their way into modern language and philosophy education. However, the historical value and the fluidity of the text make it a nice read, nonetheless. The rest of this review is dedicated to a general outline of what Cicero covers in the selections found in this book, for those interested: The book highlights Cicero's views regarding the importance of rhetoric and outlines the different "canons" of rhetoric; i.e. of proper persuasion and oration. It starts with what he calls the "invention" of proofs, which can be either non-artistic or artistic proofs. The latter type falls under one of the 3 Aristotelian modes of persuasion: the logos dealing with facts (involving induction and deduction), pathos dealing with emotional appeal, and ethos dealing with ethical appeal (winning over the audience through character). The next stage is that of arranging our proofs. The famous arrangement used in philosophy is outlined here, with an introduction, presentation of arguments, response to potential counterarguments, and finally a conclusion. The next stage is that of style, which focuses on correct use of language, clarity, distinction (use of figures of speech, etc..), and appropriateness. Appropriateness involves choosing the scale of the "speech", its tone, and its overall approach in a way suitable to the context and audience. Next comes the stage of memory: memorising the speech. Though this is not as important in modern times (as mentioned by the editor), it was a key skill for ancient orators. The editor includes some of Cicero's tips for developing our "artificial" (as opposed to natural) memory. These tips include the use of mnemonics and writing our speech down. Finally comes the stage of delivery. This stage deals with how a speech is delivered in terms of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and overall body language. Cicero regarded this stage as extremely important, since great content needs proper delivery to reach an audience, while dull content can be masked with great delivery. The editor concludes the book with Cicero's views on general traits an exceptional orator must have, most importantly being well-rounded and knowledgeable in all the liberal arts.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brad Balderson

    This is a good book - so why 3 stars? The reason is because it could have been GREAT. I learnt a few important things from this book - the most important being the relationship between writing, reading, and speech. Cicero believed - and practised with great success - that writing is the gateway to better and clearer articulate speech. He also believed that - while being aware of and familiar with pedagogical rules of rhetoric is somewhat helpful - the foremost important thing was to actually hav This is a good book - so why 3 stars? The reason is because it could have been GREAT. I learnt a few important things from this book - the most important being the relationship between writing, reading, and speech. Cicero believed - and practised with great success - that writing is the gateway to better and clearer articulate speech. He also believed that - while being aware of and familiar with pedagogical rules of rhetoric is somewhat helpful - the foremost important thing was to actually have knowledge. Anyone who has written anything or tried to explain something will know that the difficulty lies in what you DON'T know- where you get caught up, where you fumble - THAT'S where you lack understanding - as Richard Feynman taught us. Cicero also figured this out. Therefore, to truly be able to speak and to write you need to understand - but the best way to understand is to and explain. So it follows - like any other skill - the capacity for persuasive writing and speech comes as a natural result of dedicated study, practice, and reading across a wide range of subjects. Cicero also discusses the rarity with which this faculty - the faculty of speech and persuasive written word - develops. He discusses that the reason is few people studying for understanding. He also discusses the necessity for mnemonic techniques in order to remember vast amounts of information, and also the power of speech for both good and for evil (both Hitler and Churchill were great Rhetoricians). The final important thing - which was mentioned quite early in the book - is the iterative creation of persuasive argument. First there is invention, then arrangement, then style, memorisation and delivery. There is also discussion of the different techniques of rhetoric - the Ethos, relying on the ethical character and trust in the orator as a means of persuasion; the Logos, persuasion through the logical cohesiveness of the argument, and the Pathos, persuasion through the appeal to the emotions and passions of the audience. The reader of this review can see perhaps how profound and powerful the above ideas are, and how they clearly only just scratch the surface of what is clearly an extremely important discipline of study - rhetoric. This is why I think the book is only worth 3 stars - it barely scratches the surface; just as I was really getting into it, and was really excited for more - it ended. Turns out that half the book is the original latin text, so the book is actually not a book - but a pamphlet of 172 pages. Anyhow, you don't need to read this book - there is probably much better books on rhetoric which won't end having barely begun.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tammam Aloudat

    This is a translation of some of the work of Cicero, the greatest of all Roman orators, about the art of speech. Cicero was a man of humble origins who became with his words and his oration the Consul of Rome. The book is a selection that aims to illustrate some of the technicalities of rhetoric in a way that can be easily digested and absorbed by the lay person. It tries to bring together some basic rules in almost a bullet point format and goes only in little depth in explaining them but then i This is a translation of some of the work of Cicero, the greatest of all Roman orators, about the art of speech. Cicero was a man of humble origins who became with his words and his oration the Consul of Rome. The book is a selection that aims to illustrate some of the technicalities of rhetoric in a way that can be easily digested and absorbed by the lay person. It tries to bring together some basic rules in almost a bullet point format and goes only in little depth in explaining them but then illustrates the points with passages from Cicero's own oration and speeches. So in a way this is the short summary by the translator/editor of how they understand Cicero's rhetorical principles. The translator did a great job putting it together... however, this would be a little too simplistic for anyone with any familiarity with rhetoric and the works of the Greeks and Romans on the topic and I find the structure of the book owes more to Aristotle than it does anyone else. All in all, I think it is well done and a great introduction to rhetoric and winning an argument, an art that has survived for twenty-five centuries.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cyn Ro

    Well done, this book is excerpts with commentary and interpretation from the original text by Cicero Rhetoric. Cicero (3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was and is still considered one of the greatest orators in Ancient Rome. How to win an argument probably would have saved my ass numerous times if I would have read it in my proposing and presenting class in grad school instead of whatever I did to survive that living nightmare. Not only does this little handbook have helpful information abou Well done, this book is excerpts with commentary and interpretation from the original text by Cicero Rhetoric. Cicero (3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was and is still considered one of the greatest orators in Ancient Rome. How to win an argument probably would have saved my ass numerous times if I would have read it in my proposing and presenting class in grad school instead of whatever I did to survive that living nightmare. Not only does this little handbook have helpful information about how to give a speech and avoid looking like an ant set under a magnifying glass in the hot sun, it’s another intriguing look into how the ancient people and civilizations thought and conducted their daily lives. For the record, I’m still mad at Mark Anthony for Cicero and his family; fuck that trader, thank you Octavian.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abraham M

    Received this book as a gift. If you don't have much experience with certain modes of persuasion, the advice in this book--collated from one of the giants of "the canon" could be useful. However, if you've been exposed to any amount of debate-type training, or courses on persuasive writing, the insights distilled from Cicero may feel a bit basic. This does not reflect on the advice in this book by itself, just that the advice is so fundamental to western rhetoric that you've probably heard it in Received this book as a gift. If you don't have much experience with certain modes of persuasion, the advice in this book--collated from one of the giants of "the canon" could be useful. However, if you've been exposed to any amount of debate-type training, or courses on persuasive writing, the insights distilled from Cicero may feel a bit basic. This does not reflect on the advice in this book by itself, just that the advice is so fundamental to western rhetoric that you've probably heard it in some other form before. It's like watching an episode of a TV show from decades ago that was stylistically groundbreaking at the time and finding it derivative. It probably was groundbreaking! But its elements got integrated so deeply into the years of pop culture afterward that watching the source text feels repetitive.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This is a gentle introduction to the life, works, and strategies of Cicero, one of the greatest orators and rhetoricians of antiquity. You don't learn a huge amount about any of those things; just enough to whet the appetite. But I imagine the author was strictly instructed not to make the book too difficult to digest. The only real failing of the book is that you don't learn how to win an argument. Instead, you learn a little about how Cicero went at it. But don't be surprised if times have cha This is a gentle introduction to the life, works, and strategies of Cicero, one of the greatest orators and rhetoricians of antiquity. You don't learn a huge amount about any of those things; just enough to whet the appetite. But I imagine the author was strictly instructed not to make the book too difficult to digest. The only real failing of the book is that you don't learn how to win an argument. Instead, you learn a little about how Cicero went at it. But don't be surprised if times have changed, and so if you try Cicero's approach (of saying dark things about the personal lives of the people you're arguing with) it doesn't actually help much to win any arguments in the modern era. You might get a libel suit out of using Cicero's approach today, but not much else.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather-Lin

    Oh excellent! I quite enjoyed the brief overview of Cicero's life, as it gave context to the culture and government he was operating within. I also enjoyed the exploration of the different levels of making a convincing argument: logically, ethically, emotionally. I didn't expect the examples of him arguing as an attorney to be as engaging as they were. There was one case in particular, a murder plot that spells and the intended victim was accused of murder himself, that had me completely riveted! T Oh excellent! I quite enjoyed the brief overview of Cicero's life, as it gave context to the culture and government he was operating within. I also enjoyed the exploration of the different levels of making a convincing argument: logically, ethically, emotionally. I didn't expect the examples of him arguing as an attorney to be as engaging as they were. There was one case in particular, a murder plot that spells and the intended victim was accused of murder himself, that had me completely riveted! There was also a brief reference to seeking out mentors, and cultivating a robust memory using the mind palace technique. Overall, interesting as well as still relevant. And the audio narration by Simon Vance is as always superb.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    A somewhat misleading title – the book is more about the art of rhetoric – and too many short, choppy excerpts of Cicero’s writing interspersed with explanatory paragraphs derail this book. Honestly, I finished reading it, got to the closing summary, and realized I could have saved myself the trouble of reading the whole book and gained everything I needed to know from the ending summary. I’ve overall enjoyed this series and am disappointed I found this one so lackluster (especially because I wa A somewhat misleading title – the book is more about the art of rhetoric – and too many short, choppy excerpts of Cicero’s writing interspersed with explanatory paragraphs derail this book. Honestly, I finished reading it, got to the closing summary, and realized I could have saved myself the trouble of reading the whole book and gained everything I needed to know from the ending summary. I’ve overall enjoyed this series and am disappointed I found this one so lackluster (especially because I was really looking forward to reading it). Quasi-recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lumpen_Proletariat

    This was a decent little book. The provocative title is in reference to it being a treatise on rhetoric, and more specifically, Cicero's masterful oratory skills. For anyone who might have read Aristotle's 'Rhetoric' you will recognise its influence here in the ideas Cicero espouses. Cicero was a cunning chap with an evidently Machiavellian bent - arguably a prerequisite for any lawyer. He was, therefore, predisposed to a bit of verbal chicanery and perhaps not as strictly deferential to the pri This was a decent little book. The provocative title is in reference to it being a treatise on rhetoric, and more specifically, Cicero's masterful oratory skills. For anyone who might have read Aristotle's 'Rhetoric' you will recognise its influence here in the ideas Cicero espouses. Cicero was a cunning chap with an evidently Machiavellian bent - arguably a prerequisite for any lawyer. He was, therefore, predisposed to a bit of verbal chicanery and perhaps not as strictly deferential to the principals of virtue unlike his philosophic ancestors. By this I mean, Cicero appears to have learned his craft from all the great minds of Ancient Greece - including the sophists; to whom prevarication was considered an art form, notwithstanding the questionable ethics of their trade. This influence is evident in the way Cicero outlines his methods of persuasion, which comprise of three key modalities: Logos - the rational method of argumentation involving inductive and deductive syllogistic reasoning. Ethos - persuasion through presentation of oneself; manipulation or embellishment of one’s character - feigning virtue, emphasising one’s reputation and prestige to elevate one’s credibility is considered as being efficacious to elicit the sympathy of the jury. Pathos - the arousal/stirring of emotions in the audience. Using heartfelt, relatable narratives which resonate to garner sympathy for the defendant/plaintiff. I would have given more than three stars - as I was half way through (so I thought) and was really starting to enjoy the book - only to discover that the remaining 150 pages were written entirely in Latin! I felt let down like a cheap pair of braces from Camden Market!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carlosfelipe Pardo

    The book has a great title, and its description promises a lot. It may well do what it says, but it is pretty boring for my taste. It does deliver on providing direct quotes from Cicero's teachings on oratory, but it's not entirely interesting to read the whole thing. The 6-page cheat-sheet at the end is useful. The book has a great title, and its description promises a lot. It may well do what it says, but it is pretty boring for my taste. It does deliver on providing direct quotes from Cicero's teachings on oratory, but it's not entirely interesting to read the whole thing. The 6-page cheat-sheet at the end is useful.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andy Dollahite

    James May adroitly guides us through the highlights of Cicero’s instruction on rhetoric. It also affirms the absolute necessity of a vibrant education in the liberal arts. Wonderfully edited and without fluff. This would be a great text for discussion in high school or early university speech & composition courses. It’s also revenant for pastoral homiletics.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ari Stillman

    While the points made were good, the entire book could have been condensed into a 1-pager of the "Ciceronian cheat sheet for effective speaking" at the very end. The excerpts were suitable though might have been better served as a weblink to someone uttering the speeches given the emphasis on delivery. While the points made were good, the entire book could have been condensed into a 1-pager of the "Ciceronian cheat sheet for effective speaking" at the very end. The excerpts were suitable though might have been better served as a weblink to someone uttering the speeches given the emphasis on delivery.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    A lot of the book is commentary by James May, with several excerpts of Cicero's works. The commentary organizes the discussion of various rhetorical techniques and then provides examples from Cicero. I'm always amazed at how relevant the classics are to modern life. A lot of the book is commentary by James May, with several excerpts of Cicero's works. The commentary organizes the discussion of various rhetorical techniques and then provides examples from Cicero. I'm always amazed at how relevant the classics are to modern life.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nazrul Kamsol

    This book tells you on the art of persuasion. How one would be able to convince their argument, from proof based on characteristics of a person, emotional appeal, not only on rational argumentation. This book tells you there's more than simply arguing logically. This book tells you on the art of persuasion. How one would be able to convince their argument, from proof based on characteristics of a person, emotional appeal, not only on rational argumentation. This book tells you there's more than simply arguing logically.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Excellent overview of Cicero, and useful as a reference book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Arden Meissner

    He, Cicero, as a politician understood substance wasn't important. "The Ciceronian Cheat Sheet For Effective Speaking" is about the only thing one really needs to read in this self-help book. He, Cicero, as a politician understood substance wasn't important. "The Ciceronian Cheat Sheet For Effective Speaking" is about the only thing one really needs to read in this self-help book.

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