Rhetoric, one of the oldest academic disciplines, has two faces: first, the art of using language to influence or persuade; second, the body of established patterns of language, spoken or written, that makes words and phrases memorable, emphatic, and effective. There are very few recent books that tackle the subject, and in this new effort, written with the scholar and orator in mind, Farnsworth collects and discusses the great masters of English prose Lincoln and Churchill, Dickens and Melville, Burke and Paine and, using their own words, proceeds to organize, illustrate, and analyze the most frequently used rhetorical devices with clarity and detail.
The way we use our language to convince and cajole is based on timeless principles on repetition and variety, suspense and relief, expectation and satisfaction that have been employed by writers and speakers since the Golden Age of Greece. They can be applied with effect to the construction of simple sentences and paragraphs, or entire compositions. Here, distilled from the best examples in our language, we see those principles in actual use: for the general reader it is an indispensable guide, a highly useful reference, and a rewarding (and even entertaining) source of instruction.