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Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion [Paperback]

Jay Heinrichs
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 27, 2007 0307341445 978-0307341440
Thank You for Arguing is your master class in the art of persuasion, taught by professors ranging from Bart Simpson to Winston Churchill. The time-tested secrets the book discloses include Cicero’s three-step strategy for moving an audience to actionÑas well as Honest Abe’s Shameless Trick of lowering an audience’s expectations by pretending to be unpolished. But it’s also replete with contemporary techniques such as politicians’ use of “code” language to appeal to specific groups and an eye-opening assortment of popular-culture dodges, including:

The Eddie Haskell Ploy
Eminem’s Rules of Decorum
The Belushi Paradigm
Stalin’s Timing Secret
The Yoda Technique

Whether you’re an inveterate lover of language books or just want to win a lot more anger-free arguments on the page, at the podium, or over a beer, Thank You for Arguing is for you. Written by one of today’s most popular online language mavens, it’s warm, witty, erudite, and truly enlightening. It not only teaches you how to recognize a paralipsis and a chiasmus when you hear them, but also how to wield such handy and persuasive weapons the next time you really, really want to get your own way.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Magazine executive Heinrichs is a clever, passionate and erudite advocate for rhetoric, the 3,000-year-old art of persuasion, and his user-friendly primer brims with anecdotes, historical and popular-culture references, sidebars, tips and definitions. Heinrichs describes, in "Control the Tense," Aristotle's favorite type of rhetoric, the deliberative, pragmatic argument that, rather than bogging down on past offenses, promises a future payoff, e.g., a victim of office backstabbing can refocus the issues on future choices: "How is blaming me going to help us get the next contract?" To illustrate "Control the mood," Heinrichs relates Daniel Webster's successful rhetorical flourish in a murder case: he narrated the horrific murder by following Cicero's dictum that when one argue emotionally, one should speak simply and show great self-control. Readers who want to terrify underlings into submission will learn from Heinrichs that speaking softly while letting your eyes betray cold fury does the trick handily. Thomas Jefferson illustrates Heinrichs's dictum "Gain the high ground"; keenly aware of an audience's common beliefs and values, Jefferson used a rhetorical commonplace (all people are created equal) to launch the Declaration of Independence. (Feb. 27)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"[Listeners] who want to terrify underlings into submission will learn from Heinrichs that speaking softly while letting your eyes betray cold fury does the trick handily." ---Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (February 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307341445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307341440
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I spent 26 years as a writer, editor and publishing executive before heading to the North Woods and devoting most of my time to rhetoric. I give frequent workshops to corporations, colleges, schools, and organizations. (See my website,, for details.) My stints include deputy editor of Outside Magazine, editorial director of a magazine group at Rodale, Inc., chair of the Ivy League Magazine Network, founding editor of Attache Magazine, and creative VP for a spectacularly unsuccessful dotcom.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keys to advertising and political campaigns March 7, 2007
The book not only shows how to argue, it also reveals the tricks behind advertising and political campaigns. Heinrichs walks us through the basic rhetorical principles, starting with "ethos, pathos and logos," or character, emotion and logic. Character is the most important, he says, because your audience is much more likely to accept your point if it likes and trusts you. He shows how to construct the image of a leader to suit any audience--useful for anyone who manages people, or wants to.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Word Book March 7, 2007
The chapter on figures of speech is worth the price alone. They help you come up with snappy answers and intelligent things to say when you normally freeze up. And they've helped me write better. Some of the terms can be a mouthful, like paralipsis, anadiplosis and diazeugma, but there's a glossary in the back. Plus you don't actually have to know the words themselves, just the principles behind them.
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218 of 268 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful, some errors November 20, 2009
By rbnn
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a useful, well-written book focusing on using the tools of rhetoric to persuade people of things. It's different from most books on rhetoric by emphasizing contemporary, realistic examples - trying to get a promotion, win a client, make a sale, convince someone to vote a certain way - and by focusing on how people really decide things, not on idealistic versions of that. Thus, the author does a very good job of discussing why "decorum", fitting in, is important, and how it is important to know what motivates the other person. And it's different from books on psychology and people-skills, like How to Win Friends and Influence People, because it focuses mainly on rhetoric.

The writing is anecdotal and personal, full of jokes, some of them funny, and references to pop culture. I felt the second half of the book became a bit disorganized - it was sometimes not precisely clear to me whether the author was discussing logos, pathos, or ethos, or exactly where a chapter fit into the big scheme of things. But it's certainly well-written.

And the book is unquestionably useful, both in identifying and in using rhetorical techniques. Frankly, I wish I'd had this book when I was younger: I used to think persuasion was based entirely on logic. There are many day-to-day interactions and even career decisions that would be greatly aided by knowing the material here.

Although the book is entertaining, useful, even important, I nevertheless had a couple complaints.

(1) There were a number of errors in the identification and naming of rhetorical figures. Although these errors were likely just due to sloppy editing, I felt they would substantially confuse most readers.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly excellent, well thought out-start here for argument. September 18, 2010
I have a large collection of persuasion books-some truly excellent-this one is right at the top. I bought it two weeks ago and it's looking much older now-with good reason.

This book offers you a choice: allowing you to control the argument or allowing the argument to control you. Jay has made esoteric seeming rhetoric into everyday practicality. Illustrating clearly how we all use elements of rhetoric in our daily lives, he goes on to demonstrate how to improve and structure it. Arguments, in the true rhetorical sense, become more productive, pleasurable and useful as a result.

I wish I'd had this book when I was a teenager; I would love to get my brothers kids to read it-what an advantage they would have, especially in building a career-never mind dodging the fallacious nonsense argued in the media and in politics.

Flowing easily from offense, defence, advanced defence-finally culminating in advanced agreement; Jay structures his discussion using ethos, pathos and logos succinctly, weaving tips, anecdotes and everyday examples into every page.

The Appendices are well thought out, the first being a total gem.
Entitled The Tools, here they are:

Goals-Set the tense:
* Personal Goal: What do you want from your audience
* Audience Goals: Mood, Mind and Willingness to Act.

Issue Control:
* The past is forensic-guilt and innocence, such as a court case.
* The present values-demonstrative-Praise and Blame.
* The future-the rhetoric of politics and good argument, what is best for the audience.
Ethos-Argument by character
* Decorum-Ability to fit in with the audience's expectations of a trustworthy leader.
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42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an important book March 7, 2007
Don't let the humor and readable tone fool you. Heinrichs makes a great case for restoring some of the forgotten rhetorical principles behind the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. All the nation's founders had at least some training in rhetoric, he says. Our ignorance of it keeps us from restoring civility and sense to our national dialogue. This book should be required reading in high school and college.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book for The Writer or Public Speaker September 16, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Public Speaking or persuasive writing. Heinrichs keeps his readers interested in everything he has to say through the use of real-world and pop culture references. Random bits of information in the margins keep every page interesting and well worth your time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and Intriguing
There is nothing to dislike about this book! I love it! Thank You For Arguing gives great insight and clear explanations on how to argue, not fight. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rose Moynihan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Surprising and Unexpected Diamond in the Rough
Originally, I purchased "Thank You for Arguing" because it was required for one of my classes. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jordin L.
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear and practical approach to persuasion
An incredibly engaging book on rhetoric, ‘Thank You’ is a smash in the right direction for learning the practical and modern approaches to the timeless strategies of persuasive... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Garrett Zecker
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Riveting Reading
I am a junior in high school, and my teacher required us to read this book. I did not like any of it. It was sooooo boring.
Published 7 months ago by KK
3.0 out of 5 stars Ouch Tight Calf
Because this boot is just to darn tight in the calf for comfort.Your
other styles I own never had this problem.
Published 7 months ago by DianaP.
5.0 out of 5 stars What you expect.
Great book with excellent examples. It is pretty much what you would expect from this book. I recommend it to my friends.
Published 7 months ago by Leah Batchelor
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I bought this book for speech class and ended up liking it so much that i read it all in my free time! Great book full of totally applicable ways to get what you want.
Published 8 months ago by Rockey
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
The book was in very good condition. There was minimal damage to it. Overall a good read that had a funny twirst to it
Published 8 months ago by Jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
It taught me a lot. Very helpful and useful. A great book. I recommend it to every one. You will love it.
Published 9 months ago by Sicong Ma
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice one.
Not much to say - the book meets expectations. However, I am still on my way to finish the first chapter :) Fun so far.
Published 9 months ago by Bogdan
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Figaro Speech!
Now see my new site,! It'll show you how to get a guy named Mike to do your bidding.
Mar 3, 2007 by Jay Heinrichs |  See all 2 posts
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