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Publisher's Summary

From classic poetry to pop lyrics, from Charles Dickens to Dolly Parton, even from Jesus to James Bond, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase - such as "O Captain! My Captain!" or "To be or not to be" - memorable. In his inimitably entertaining and wonderfully witty style, he takes apart famous phrases and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or quip like Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming to achieve literary immortality or just hoping to deliver the perfect one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything important to say - you simply need to say it well. In an age unhealthily obsessed with the power of substance, this is a book that highlights the importance of style.

©2014 Mark Forsyth (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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Story

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Phil O.
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 10-30-14

Who knew rhetoric could be so much fun?

(Yes, that's a rhetorical question.)
This is not for everybody, but this is probably a bookish crowd, right? (We have a second rhetorical question already? Oops, and there's another?.) If you are delighted by English words and phrases, I recommend this. The author almost dances through it, tossing jokes everywhere. The narrator is ideal -- I wonder whether my laughing aloud on my listening-walks is at the wit of the author (and his often smartly goofy portrayals of very ostensibly serious writings) or the narrator's understated puckish style that always seems casual and yet right on the edge of laughter. This is a nice trip through English poetry and literature of the last few hundred years too. There are many little deconstructions of Shakespeare, also Dickens, William Blake, a bit of Jane Austen, some Churchill, on and on.
I see the author has other books here, and I won't hesitate to snap them up.

53 of 57 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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Just enjoy the listen

Any additional comments?

I think some of the negative comments for this book come from those who expect too much from it. It is a light/skim the surface look at the "elements of eloquence" -- You aren't going into the jungle of deep learning here folks. You are just being introduced in a well written (often funny) and light manner.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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A detailed English lesson, but NOT for businessmen

I'm a terrible writer (thankfully, I'm a business person). I bought this book in hopes of becoming more eloquent in my presentations, but the many English lessons were a bit too technical and tedious for me. I still gave this book a 4-star rating because it delivers on what it promises and I can see how it would be very helpful for writers.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 04-27-15

Quick! Answer This:

What do Jesus and John Lennon have in common? Shakespeare and Sting? The greatest fun of "The Elements of Eloquence" is finding out. Sure Shakespeare gets the lion's share of coverage, along with some Austen, Dumas, and other classics. But here you'll find references to Quentin Tarantino, Snoop Dogg, quotes from modern politicians.
This is a hilarious work covering elements I'd never known the names of, and some I'd never heard of. It's enlightening, and like I said, the examples are so much fun. I learned so much (the most important thing being: You actually CAN end a sentence with a preposition! So take THAT Mrs. Bryson!).
I suggest listening to it at x1.25 speed, as even then it flows casually.
This is so enjoyable for both readers and writers. For readers: You can listen in one sitting. For writers: You'll want to come back to this again and again!

55 of 61 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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Well Done!

I would recommend this book to anybody who desires to improve their speech and/or writing, especially to those who want to inspire or become memorable with the spoken and written word.

This book does get a little dry. It's a study book, not something to read quickly.

The narrator was phenomenal! He spoke with an air of...I don't know...Eloquence.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic book ; Excellent narration

This is among the best books available on Audible.com. Mark Forsyth is learned and hilarious. There is no author quite like him. Buy this book and listen to it!

The narrator, Don Hagen, does an excellent job with this material.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Delightful!

If you could sum up The Elements of Eloquence in three words, what would they be?

crack for wordgeeks

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Elements of Eloquence?

there were so many: quotes from famous poems and lyrics from rock songs

Have you listened to any of Don Hagen’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

not sure if I have but he did a great job on this one

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me laugh out loud several times

Any additional comments?

I got lucky with this book - it could have been very dry, based on the title. But it was wonderful - educational and very funny at the same time. I will probably listen to it again, something I rarely do with a book. I may even buy the written version so I can take notes (I listen while driving).

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Good, if sometimes a little too technical

I liked all the examples from the various sources . He used prose, poetry, speeches and plays to demonstrate the use of figures of rhetoric. But sometimes the minute differences were hard to distinguish, even with examples. Nonetheless, it was an entertaining book with a skilled reader.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Somerset, NJ, USA
  • 02-17-15

A book that provides great insights into writing

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes! Exceptional book. It provides a great amount of detail as to why we like certain sayings. I found it to be fantastic.

What did you like best about this story?

The breadth and depth of the analysis; the details offered. Great stuff!

Have you listened to any of Don Hagen’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I hope to again. I found him to be a greater reader.

What did you learn from The Elements of Eloquence that you would use in your daily life?

I will pay more attention to both writings and speaking, to pick up on some of the techniques that the author describes.

Any additional comments?

I found the writing style to be exceptional. The author is quite talented, both in his ability to gather details but also in expressing them. Again, the reading was great, too.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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Fabulous! Fun! Full of useful information!

Great team, this author and narrator. This is a smart book, on a topic I didn't even know was there.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful