Words Like Loaded Pistols Book Summary - Words Like Loaded Pistols Book explained in key points
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Words Like Loaded Pistols summary

Sam Leith

Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama

4.2 (136 ratings)
14 mins

Brief summary

"Words Like Loaded Pistols" by Sam Leith dissects the power of language and rhetoric in shaping our beliefs, attitudes, and actions. It explores the historical and contemporary impact of persuasive language in politics, media, and everyday life.

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    Words Like Loaded Pistols
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    Rhetoric is unavoidable, and everybody uses it.

    The word “rhetoric” might remind you of your pretentious college roommate’s major or the nonsensical jargon hurled around by politicians, but, in fact, we all use rhetoric every single day.

    Rhetoric is all about the art of influencing people through words, whether they’re written or spoken. So, as much as we might try to dismiss it as outdated, stuck up or even deceptive, rhetoric determines the tone of this very sentence, and it’s for rhetorical reasons that you speak one way to your best friend and another to a job interviewer.

    After all, how often do you use language without the intention of influencing someone?

    It’s hard to avoid because words are a tool for communication, which is the mutual exchange of information. And every piece of information, whether it’s emotional, scientific or factual, will affect your feelings, opinions or actions.

    However, in this day and age, the term “political rhetoric” is often used disparagingly even though it’s impossible to avoid rhetorical strategies in politics. For instance, Obama’s critics have ridiculed him for being too wordy and full of air. They don’t think he’s got much substance beyond speaking well. Compare that view with that of Republican Phyllis Schlafly, who praised Sarah Palin for being a “woman who worked with her hands.”

    But naturally, in every speech she gives, Palin works to influence her audience. Regardless of what people might think, she uses rhetoric. In fact, even people who are critical of rhetoric use it all the time. That’s because accusing someone of being a smooth-talking swindler requires some smooth talking – get it?

    That “get it?” is itself a common rhetorical strategy known as a rhetorical question.

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    What is Words Like Loaded Pistols about?

    Words Like Loaded Pistols (2012) is a guide to identifying rhetoric and using it to your advantage. These blinks use historical, contemporary and everyday examples to show how rhetoric is a part of everything we do, which is why it’s such an essential topic to examine.

    Words Like Loaded Pistols Review

    Words Like Loaded Pistols (2013) by Sam Leith is a captivating exploration of the power of rhetoric and persuasive language throughout history. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With insightful analysis and examples from various eras, it reveals how words can shape opinions, incite actions, and influence public discourse.
    • Examining influential speeches and debates, the book offers a deeper understanding of the art of persuasion and its impact on politics, society, and culture.
    • By illuminating the dark side of rhetoric and highlighting the potential for manipulation, the book encourages critical thinking and a more discerning approach to language.

    Best quote from Words Like Loaded Pistols

    All I have is a voice/To undo the folded lie.- W.H. Auden, poet

    —Sam Leith
    example alt text

    Who should read Words Like Loaded Pistols?

    • Anyone who wants to better understand the science behind political jargon
    • Students and professionals striving to become better public speakers and writers

    About the Author

    Sam Leith is the literary editor of the Spectator and has contributed to The Wall Street Journal, Evening Standard and Guardian, among other publications.

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    Words Like Loaded Pistols FAQs 

    What is the main message of Words Like Loaded Pistols?

    The main message of Words Like Loaded Pistols is the power of language in shaping our thoughts and actions.

    How long does it take to read Words Like Loaded Pistols?

    The reading time for Words Like Loaded Pistols varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Words Like Loaded Pistols a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Words Like Loaded Pistols is a thought-provoking book that explores the impact of language. It's definitely worth reading for anyone interested in communication and rhetoric.

    Who is the author of Words Like Loaded Pistols?

    Sam Leith is the author of Words Like Loaded Pistols.

    What to read after Words Like Loaded Pistols?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Words Like Loaded Pistols, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Verbal Judo by George J. Thompson and Jerry B. Jenkins
    • Thank You for Arguing by Jay Heinrichs
    • Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
    • The Art of Rhetoric by Aristotle
    • Language Intelligence by Joseph J Romm
    • How to Walk into a Room by Emily P. Freeman
    • Just Listen by Mark Goulston
    • Persuasion by Jane Austen
    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    • The Fine Art Of Small Talk by Debra Fine