on April 21, 2014
Purchased back in 2010, I see there are now two newer editions than the 10th edition. I purchased this for a fundamentals of oral communication class in the speech department of a state university. It is a basic textbook for undergraduates, dealing with elements of communication, interpersonal communications, communication in groups, public communications, and the nature of interviewing.
On human communication it discusses the process of communication, how it is also symbolic, going into types of communication in some detail, it identifies functions and needs for communications.
The book goes on with discussions about the self, perception, as it is related to culture, perceiving others, etc. It discusses language, how it is symbolic and how meanings are found in people, not words. It discusses how language shapes and reflects attitudes. It brings up troublesome languages, gender and language, culture and language, and others.
But communication is also about listening. The book discusses misconceptions about listening, personal listening, listening styles, advice on informational listening, critical listening, and listening as social support.
There is much on nonverbal communication, its types, influences, functions, and characteristics.
It goes over such topics as why we form relationships, on intimacy, in interpersonal relationships, and there dimensions, models, along with guidelines for self-disclosure. There are discussions on communication climates in interpersonal relationships and managing interpersonal conflict.
There is much on communication in groups, definitions, goals, characteristics, rules, roles, patterns, along with cultural influences on group communication. The book goes into much detail on solving problems in groups, when and why, its disadvantages and so forth, but it also points out its damages.
In its public communication section it resembles more of an elementary lecture on how to write an English class essay -- information that should have been mastered by high school. There is a great deal of advice on how to organize, structure, outline, etc., a speech.( Something I always found to be useless in my experience). Book has much advice on how to write a speech, its styles, supporting material, etc. It goes on with presenting your message, dealing with stage fright, and other guidelines.
Much is on types of speaking, information speaking, persuasive speaking, and so forth. Finally it deals with building credibility as a speaker, and concludes with sections on interviewing.
The book's intent is to understand the nature of human communication, but more so to apply such knowledge with the goal of more skillful communications. It is intended as a beginner's book, an introductory textbook for freshmen students. The statement of purpose is to provide an engaging, comprehensive, useful introduction to the study of human communication. It is designed to be reader-friendly, with examples on virtually every page.
It is heavily illustrated, with occasional amusing cartoons, and lots of photos. It has an excessive number of so-called boxes, side-texts, that distract from the flow of the main text. Elementary textbooks tend to have that, possibly to entertain restless students. I would prefer a textbook without "boxes". The book contains end notes instead of footnotes (I prefer foot notes). It has too many tables, which I don't find useful, but it is good that references to more academic material is mentioned. Contains also a glossary and index.
I was most impressed with the sections on the power of language; how language shapes attitudes, on how naming something defines or distorts that thing or person. Also on how living within a culture defines one's perspective and vocabulary.
The sentence structure is in short declarative sentences, with a simple vocabulary; no odd words. Sometimes when the book is advising on writing on research it stays to the obvious and its recommendations tend to be the most basic resources. But as the book is designed for the beginning student this is to be expected. It has much practical advice on reading and analyzing the audience. Some people can do this instinctively, others need to practice.
I would say the book relies a bit too much on assuming the reader watches lots of movies or television. It discusses the media room feature, using examples from popular television and film to illustrate important communication concepts in every chapter. This is not necessarily a good idea. I would prefer more examples from literature. On the other hand, it is good that each chapter contains case studies, presenting real-life communications, with challenges on the job, in school, and in personal relationships. It includes questions to encourage students to understand and solve problems. That is the one basic goal of college--to teach students how to analyze.
A basic textbook for a fundamental class on oral communication, for beginning students.