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Publisher's Summary

Esteemed professor Michael D. C. Drout brings his expertise in literary studies to the subject of rhetoric. From history-altering political speeches to friendly debates at cocktail parties, rhetoric holds the power to change opinions, spark new thoughts, and ultimately change the world.

The study of rhetoric not only leads to a greater understanding of how personages such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Winston Churchill elevated the power of speech to majestic heights, but also to a stronger proficiency in using rhetoric in anyone's day-to-day life.

Professor Drout examines the types of rhetoric and their effects, the structure of effective arguments, and how subtleties of language can be employed to engage in more successful rhetoric. Drout also ponders the role of rhetoric in our world and the age-old question of whether it is just a tool for convincing people of things that aren't true, or whether it is indeed a force for good that will ultimately lead to truth.

©2006 Michael D.C. Drout (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC

What members say

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  • Jade
  • 06-10-09

A Very Unique Read...(J/K)

Includes everything you should have learned in grammar school had you been interested and engaged in the topic. A dynamic and unpretentious speaker. Famous speeches were dissected and the tools of their effectiveness revealed. I got it.

30 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I look forward to more from Professor Drout

This lecture was informative and enlightening. He challenged what I know and what I thought I knew. He brought me back to college. It was just like my best and favorite college courses; giving me information but not answering all my questions. He left me with enough curiosity to learn more on my own and continue with my road of life-long learning. I have added more books to my reading list because of this lecture. Additionally, I read books with a new eye, a new mind, because of this lecture. He teaches, he entertains, he delights, he inspires, and he allows; for possibility, opinion, and curiosity. I look forward to more lectures from Professor Drout. I highly recommend this lecture.

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Xueshu
  • Sycamore, IL, USA
  • 07-17-10

One of the best out of hundreds . . .

One of the best out of hundreds that I have listened, this book contains not only the general principles but also many brilliant examples on motivating the audience and becoming compelling communicators.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The enthusiastic professor

I loved this explanation of rhetoric. He took modern and ancient examples and made them completely clear, all while remaining consistently energetic about his subject, even though the material itself can be viewed as dry. He explained very well how communication is only boring when you haven't reached your audience properly, in a way they can understand easily.
Though his enthusiasm was at times a bit much, I enjoyed listening to this book and will likely listen to it again soon. Great job, worth every penny.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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An Enjoyable and Informative Course on Rhetoric

Professor Michael D. C. Drout concludes A Way with Words: Writing, Rhetoric and the Art of Persuasion (2006) by expressing his belief that rhetoric is evolving away from formal, written styles towards more conversational oral styles in which the speaker tries to appear to be a regular person talking to regular people. Indeed, he delivers his fourteen informative and entertaining lectures with a seemingly spoken rhetoric, improvising, he tells us, from his written notes rather than reading from a script, and spicing his language with colloquialisms like "Damn," "stuff," and "doofus," saying "gonna," and changing his voice to mock or channel political or authoritative registers. His voice bubbles with the joys and pleasures of rhetoric (and of its necessary logic and grammar). He comes across as enthusiastic and unpretentious, nothing like a pedantic professor. And he wields an enjoyably inclusive set of allusions, ranging from J. R. R. Tolkien to Homer Simpson, from It's a Wonderful Life to Tarzan, from the Chicago Bulls to the Boston Red Sox, and from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody to Grammar Rock's "Conjunction Junction." And he analyzes classic examples of effective rhetoric from Shakespeare, Lincoln, Churchill, and MLK, Jr., as well as contemporary examples of "rhetorical trainwrecks" (by John Kerry and Al Gore) and "rhetorical triumphs" (by Rudy Guliani). He apologizes for necessary jargon and then explains it clearly and refers to it in future lectures. Overall, he successfully communicates that learning to recognize and understand and resist and employ rhetoric can help us live more effectively in our communities and can even increase the amount of truth in the world.

His fourteen lectures cover topics like the ways in which words can change reality (through performative language), the history of rhetoric as a tool to find and communicate the truth, the nature of discourse conventions and "fictional" target audiences, the basic structures and building blocks and developments of logical arguments, logical fallacies, the three elements of any rhetorical argument (logic, ethics, and feeling), figures of speech, word choice, and grammar.

Professor Drout's two lectures on grammar were less interesting and useful than I'd hoped, focusing as they do on common errors and two of his pet peeves, "very unique" and "literally…" And I sometimes wished that he'd either avoid saying "and so forth" or alternated it with "and so on." And he often refers to the course guide, which is available for free as a pdf file, and it is very helpful, but when I scrolled through it, it tended to crash my Safari and my Preview programs.

But I learned a lot from his course, and will be more observant about the rhetoric that people use in the world around me, and will try to be more thoughtful about my own rhetoric, especially in teaching classes. I enjoyed listening to A Way with Words (as I did Drout's course on Tolkien and Fantasy, Rings, Swords, and Monsters) and will probably listen to another of his courses in future.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wow! English is not boring

This is a great introduction to the Modern Scholar series. I was afraid the audio book would be boring on a long drive but I found this book interesting and the speaker enjoyable all the way to my detination ... and back! High praise for an english book by an engineer. I am going to the other book by this author.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Irena
  • Rishon LeZion, Israel
  • 12-09-08

Rhetorics as an art of convincing people

This is an excellent course of 14 audio lectures about rhetoric as an art of convincing people, and not only due to all the interesting and well explained information it includes but especially because of the pleasure of listening to the professor Michael Drout. He is a brilliant lecturer and it is obvious he himself is having fun when he speaks to you about rhetoric.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Entertaining Introduction to Formal Rhetoric

He's a fine lecturer, making otherwise boring topics palatable. The accompanying guide or notes are extremely thorough and helpful. You will learn to analyze speech and writing, but not to speak or to write. But hey, what can you expect from just listening or reading? I most enjoyed his presentation about rhetoric, since I had never categorized figures of speech or fallacies. On the other hand, while it is useful to put a label on general concepts, I wish scholars used labels that were easier to remember. All these Latin names of fallacies reminded me of botany; similarly, with all those names of schemes and tropes. I'm sure that, if I ever see or hear them again, I would have to look up "litotes", "hypophora," "pleonasm," or "paronomasia." (This last word is spelled "paranomasia" in the guide, which, although incorrect, actually makes more sense etymologically. Now that is something about which only English professors get excited.) He only offered mnemonic devices for "illocution" and "perlocution." Finally, even though he seemed so excited to get to discussing grammar, I found the two chapters on it the least insightful in an otherwise illuminating presentation. Although he attempts to make the subject matter relevant, his presentation is more formal than practical. I enjoyed his concluding speculations about the evolution and future of spoken rhetoric.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • Freeport, ME, United States
  • 03-02-09

Provided the tune up and insight I needed

I have already listened to many of the chapters over and over again in this audio book. I love the way Professor Drout speaks with such enthusiasm and passion on a subject that he is obviously highly and skillfully versed in. He breaks it down splendidly so that even those of us with limited skills can grow and expand from the wisdom he imparts.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam
  • Bondi Junction, Australia
  • 11-29-10

Really good however...

Michael is a great speaker and does an exceptional job in keeping his energy up through subject matter that is very complex but clearly an area of passion for him. I found the content excellent however I found myself constantly listening for practical examples of how I could implement this in my career. He is so passionate and knowledgeable about the subject matter that the practical application is hard to decipher amid all the history and fast facts. If you want to learn about rhetoric and the way language is used for power etc it's great - but if you want to learn how to implement it in your own life it's probably not an A+ audio book - although Michael is clearly an expert.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Christian
  • 09-10-11

Best book I ever listened to

I am currently a Law student & this book is proving to be priceless to me. I am actively recommending it to all my friends. It has helped explain a lot of the stuffs I found confusing in Law School & broken it down to very basic terms.

It isn't just for Lawyers I must add. It is for everyone & anyone. Your words are your must valuable asset in the modern world & this book helps you improve on it immensely.

It is a must listen. & no I am not been paid to write this. I have only gotten to Chapter 8 & I am sooooo happy I bought it with my credit.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Anne
  • 03-08-11

Way with words

Fascinating listening.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 04-01-12

Great introduction to rhetoric

Because I'm usually more interested in the subject of history, I was at first hesitant about buying this book. When I saw this was by professor Drout, however, I decided to give it a try. I'd listened to his course on the anglo-saxons before, so I figured this might be good. I wasn't disappointed!

Professor Drout has an excellent way of teaching. He tells amusing stories, references geek culture, and his way of speaking clearly shows his enthausiasm for the subject. Teachers often try to be too funny and forget to actually teach you anything, or try to be too serious and fail to convey any enthausiasm. Drout manages to walk that fine line where the humour actually helps the learning process. Because you have to admit, it's easier to remember how a syllogism works (or rather, how it doesn't work) if you have a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail as an example.

As for the subject matter, it turned out to be very interesting indeed. Drout clearly sets out all the important parts of rhetoric, discussing each part in turn. He gives everything the attention it deserves, without losing sight of the big picture. And while I wish there'd been more time for the professor to explain some more logical fallacies and figures of speech, it is only an 8-hour course, and there's only so much you can cram into that amount of time. That said, if Drout were to make a course on either of those subjects, I'll definitely be buying it.

Now excuse me while I go listen to the whole thing again for the third time in a row.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Anthony
  • 07-14-11

Very helpful

Great reader, has a really nice voice to listen to. This book is very helpful, I find myself listening to this time and time again

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Heather
  • 05-03-11

Nice intro to rhetoric from an enthusiast

The speed of the intro rattles along, but the lecturer's enthusiasm keeps your attention and it's good fun.

Highly recommended, but the speed means that you'll need to follow up with a little reading online or hard copy to fix the ideas.

Drout has a strong US accent, but his love for the English language and Anglo Saxon makes his lectures delightful listening. Feed your brain!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jim
  • 01-07-12


There are any number of books out there which purport to transform the reader into into a master of persuasion. The joy of Prof Drout's book is his personal charm as a lecturer and the rigour of his approach which mixes medieval rhetorical theory, modern research into logic and communication alongside great examples from modern masters of the art like Martin Luther King. In addition to this his qualififcations in journalism offer additional insights into the various ways in which the written as well as the spoken word can be used to persuade. Invaluable to anyone who needs to communicate for a living but also a thoroughly pleasurable listen. Buy this book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • martin
  • 07-12-12

Not great

While some aspects were useful, the fact that the author appeared more concerned with telling us how really wonderful he is, spoiled what might have been a much better book.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Shehzad
  • 09-29-17

Loved this book

Really insightful and learnt plenty of new techniques.

I would recommend this to all audiences

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  • Nic
  • 07-08-17

Has value.

This course defiantly has value. But don't get me wrong. It might have value as far as buying the audio book. But not value summing too the cost of tuition for this.
Listen or read it. Don't do a course in it.
Do a course in something you can get a job in, if you are going to pay that kind of coin for education.

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  • Odwa
  • 01-25-16

Great lecturer; great orator.

Retoric demystified. I am persuaded. Prof Drout is the reason that I enjoy audio books.