Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199651368

Richard Toye
136 Pages
114 x 174 mm
Pub date
Mar 2013
Very Short Introductions


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  • Includes the key rhetorical concepts and techniques
  • Helps the reader develop a critical appreciation of the rhetoric of others
  • Uses historical examples to illustrate the main issues
  • Considers the use of rhetoric in a number of different contexts

Rhetoric is often seen as a synonym for shallow, deceptive language, and therefore as something negative. But if we view rhetoric in more neutral terms, as the 'art of persuasion', it is clear that we are all forced to engage with it at some level, if only because we are constantly exposed to the rhetoric of others. 

In this Very Short Introduction, Richard Toye explores the purpose of rhetoric. Rather than presenting a defence of it, he considers it as the foundation-stone of civil society, and an essential part of any democratic process. Using wide-ranging examples from Ancient Greece, medieval Islamic preaching, and modern cinema, Toye considers why we should all have an appreciation of the art of rhetoric.
"Rhetoric matters. To explicate this shaggy beast in 35,000 words is no small challenge, and Toye succeeds with a consistently light touch." - The Speechwriter


1: From the Greeks to Gladstone
2: The scaffolding of rhetoric
3: Approaches to rhetoric
4: Rhetoric in the modern world

About the author: 

Richard Toye studied at the University of Birmingham and subsequently the University of Cambridge, where he completed his Ph.D. He is currently Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter. His books include Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness (2007) and Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made (2010).

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