Rhetoric was once an essential part of western education. Aristotle wrote an important treatise on it and Demosthenes remains famous to this day for his skills as a rhetorician. But skill with rhetoric today is no longer admired. Rhetoric is often seen as a synonym for shallow, deceptive language-empty words, empty rhetoric--and therefore as something quite 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 defense 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, the wartime speeches of Winston Churchill, and modern cinema, Toye considers why we should all have an
appreciation of the art of rhetoric.
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