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How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday Paperback – April 15, 1996


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How to Argue & Win Every Time: At Home, At Work, In Court, Everywhere, Everyday + Win Your Case: How to Present, Persuade, and Prevail--Every Place, Every Time + The Art of Cross-Examination
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (April 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312144776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312144777
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lawyer Spence's guide to winning arguments spent 26 weeks on PW's bestseller list.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

A celebrity defense lawyer who garners quantity face-time during publicity-soaked trials, Spence, as attentive O. J.-ers know, is the aw-shucks Wyomingite who hates neckties, prosecutors, bankers, and pretense in general. He also hates losing an argument, which he has rarely done in a courtroom. Here, Spence distills his bar experience into the secrets of his success and translates that into the plain language of the real world of jobs, romance, and child rearing. Spence exhorts readers to believe that the art of arguing is verily the art of living, and aversion to argumentativeness only hinders people from getting what they want. So throughout this disputation, Spence anticipates objections (which he dubs the "Lock" ) and supplies refutations (dubbed the "Key" ). Spence's overall keys to winning are to contend without being contentious, to persuade instead of overwhelming "the Other," and to always be credible. Though discursive in style, Spence's prose is pointedly sharp in essence and displays unself-consciously his own flamboyant personality. Rises above the herd in the conduct-of-life genre. Gilbert Taylor

More About the Author

Gerry Spence has been a trial attorney for more than five decades and proudly represents "the little people." He has fought and won for the family of Karen Silkwood, defended Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, and represented hundreds of others in some of the most notable trials of our time. He is the founder of Trial Lawyer's College, a nonprofit school where, pro bono, he teaches attorneys for the people how to present their cases and win against powerful corporate and government interests. He is the author of fifteen books, including The New York Times bestseller How to Argue and Win Every Time, From Freedom to Slavery, Give Me Liberty, and The Making of a Country Lawyer, and is a nationally known television commentator on the famous trials of our time. He lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Customer Reviews

I must be recommending this book to everyone.
Chad Bagley
If you are a Jungian or otherwise interested in stories and narratives, this book is a good read.
Tim Warneka
This was an excellent book on argumentation skills.
Harold McFarland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Chad Bagley on June 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Wow! Alot of folks who have reviewed this book need a hug and a valium (a potent combination I might add).
Let me start by saying that the title of this book is a bit misleading, and intentionaly so. This book isn't about arguing as much as it's about communicating. Mr. Spence useds the word 'argument' in the context that everything we articulate- whether it's a desire to teach , punish, express wants or state an oppinion- is essentialy an argument.
The twist to this little tome is that effective arguing is not a act of selfishness but a labor of love. A good argument is one in which the greatest good is served.
I particularly found the chapter on arguing with kids quite useful. I tend to be quite authoritarian and rule oriented when it comes to child rearing and this little chapter taught me that kids will grow into responsible loving adults without being constantly hovered over and corraled into so called 'correct behavior'. This chapter is worth the price of the book alone.
I recommend this book to anyone who has ever asked for anything in his/her life. Well hell! I must be recommending this book to everyone.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
I dont usually review books that have already been reviewed by more than 20 others, but I need to make an exception for 2 reasons. First, this book is MUST reading for anyone on my negotiating team. While I'm not a Gerry Spence fan, his negotiating style is simple, but very powerful. Second, for the benefit of all potential readers, I need to respond to the anonymous MBA from Austin Texas who reviewed this book and said "Bottom line is that I didnt feel any more prepared for negotiating after I read it". I guarantee that anyone with negotiating responsibilities who does not get something out of this book is not a very good negotiator. Even if you don't want to mimic Gerry's style, at some point in your business career, you're bound to run into someone who negotiates the way Gerry Spence does. If you don't at least understand what's going on, and how to respond in kind, you're doomed to lose that negotiation. If, after reading this book, you feel like you didn't get anything out of it, either reread it or choose another profession.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Tim Warneka on May 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Books with grandiose titles like this usually keep me from reading them (Hello publisher's marketing department!). A friend of mine recommended that I read this book, and I was glad that I did.
yes, many of Spence's political views (along with my own) are left of center. But it's the PROCESS that this book is all about.
I re-read this book a number of time. This book has helped me to become a better therapist (in fact, this is a book that I recommend in my workshops on using metaphor in psychotherapy). If you are a Jungian or otherwise interested in stories and narratives, this book is a good read.
We are all, in Spence's words, people of the story. All humans love stories, so it only makes sense to incorporate stories into our arguments and discussions (and therapy sessions and legal debates and....)
As I've said, I have re-read this book many times. I particularly enjoy the section on "the power of story" (chp 8?), the section on intuitive speaking and the importance of preparation, and the section on speaking and using your voice.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Michael on January 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
From the title you might be expecting a book that would teach you how to argue. You won't find it here. You will find some sound advice on how to approach an argument, such as that you will have more success in your argument if you are respectful to the person you are arguing with, and if you try to make the argument from a position where you can find common ground. You will also find some wisdom on arguing in certain situations, for example arguing with at home or with children.

I think the most valuable part of the book is his emphasis of arguing from an emotional perspective. Many people, especially certain groups like men and conservatives, tend to be dismissive of emotional arguments in favor of logical ones. However, Spence shows that emotional arguments are more likely to win than logical ones. The skill of framing a logical argument in an emotional context could be a valuable one.

An important omission in the book is arguing in public. Spence tries to address that, but I have the feeling that Spence has lost the ability to identify with people who have trouble speaking in public and the scanty advice he gives seems ineffective - amounting to "just get over it and do it."

Another drawback of the book is that it contains a fair amount of polemic. So if you're going to find it annoying that Gerry Spence likes to go on tirades about environmentalism and his dislike of bankers you might want to find a different book. I found it distracting from the real purpose of the book.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Paul Oliver on August 1, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was well-written, included some good insight into how Mr. Spence wins cases and persuades people to give him a chance. It really is a study in human psychology, both by the one making the argument, and of the one receiving it.

What frustrated me was Mr. Spence downplays logic, when an emotional argument works better. Basically, use logic if it applies, but don't overdo logic, and avoid it if it destroys your argument. I'm sure he's right, but it saddens me that people are swayed when logic isn't a part of the argument.

It becomes clear early in the book that Mr. Spence dislikes conservatives and businesspeople. He lumps all businessmen as cold, unfeeling bastards who will try to fire anyone who affects their bottom line...usually at Christmastime. One sees clearly that Mr. Spence likes to use appeals to emotion (logical fallacy) and hasty generalizations (logical fallacy) abound. False dichotomies (logical fallacy) are presented time after time, like this famous quote:

"I don't know about you, but I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief." pg. 95.

Of course he implies that his (Gerry's) mind, while closed to religious belief, is as open as a cargo door. It also implies that those who acknowledge God's existence are then closed-minded. This presents only two options when there are many.

If you'd like to read a book on persuading people, using psychological tricks and you can determine the difference between opinion and fact, this is a good choice. Look out for logical fallacies and many pages of rants on child-rearing, religious belief, and the business world however.
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