This is a witty, elegant enquiry into the art of persuasion. Rhetoric is nothing to be afraid of. It isn't the exclusive preserve of politicians: it's everywhere, from your argument with the insurance company to your plea to the waitress for a table near the window. It convicts criminals (and then frees them on appeal). It causes governments to rise and fall, best men to be shunned by their friends' brides, and perfectly sensible adults to march with steady purpose towards machine guns. In this highly entertaining (and persuasive) book, Sam Leith examines how people have taught, practised and thought about rhetoric from its Attic origins to its twenty-first century apotheosis. Along the way, he tells the stories of its heroes and villains, from Cicero and Erasmus, to Hitler, Obama - and Gyles Brandreth. Knowledge, it has been said, is power. And rhetoric is what gives words power.
Sam Leith is a former Literary Editor of the Daily Telegraph, and contributes regularly to the Evening Standard, Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Spectator and Prospect. He's the author of two nonfiction books: Dead Pets and Sod's Law and a novel, The Coincidence Engine.