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A Way with Words: Writing, Rhetoric, and the Art of Persuasion
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A Way with Words: Writing, Rhetoric, and the Art of Persuasion

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  419 ratings  ·  47 reviews
From the Publisher: In A Way with Words: Writing, Rhetoric, and the Art of Persuasion, esteemed professor Michael D.C. Drout brings his expertise in literary studies to the subject of rhetoric. From history-altering political speeches to friendly debates at cocktail parties, rhetoric holds the power to change opinions, spark new thoughts, and ultimately change the world. T ...more
Published 2006
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Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, audio
the purpose of learning about rhetoric is to help you communicate clearly and convincingly (through writing and speaking.
you can download the coursebook for free at:
Oct 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love when a professor has so much passion for something that he makes what could be an otherwise dull topic fun and interesting. I really enjoyed this audio-course, and even found myself laughing out loud several times. Drout discusses various aspects of writing and rhetoric, how to use the power of words/grammar to capture your audience, and what tools help to make a great speech. I learned quite a bit. I'm now off to listen to one of his other audio-courses to learn more. :)
Very entertaining course about clarity and persuasion in speech and in writing. I learned some fancy words, including:

paranomasia: punning

thesis: I knew what this word meant, but Drout has a great way of explaining it. He says your thesis is your point--it's the reason you're writing the paper.

enthymeme: This is a complex concept that Drout explains simply. The enthymeme is the part of the argument where you lean forward, lower your voice, and say, "Can't we both agree that. . . ." You can find
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I had fun reading this book. It was interesting information and I have another fun word to enjoy: petitioprincipii. I have always enjoyed dipdiadokokinetics although I seldom have opportunity to use it; I am still glad to have it in my head for my head's sake. I needed to take more notes but the author did say he has free notes available on his website which I will look into. I enjoy words. I enjoy language. I am now reading History of Language by Michael Drout and already found it worthwhile.
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, read_2018
Second time through this and I love it even more. Leave it to Drout to make rhetoric is compelling subject.
I selected this work based on the strength of the lecturer; I have listened to other series that he has done and enjoyed them, so I decided to give this one a try. It was interesting and fairly informative. Though, sadly, about the only thing I can really point to having learned is the proper pronunciation of oxymoron; I'm hoping that I absorbed more than I can easily articulate. Of course, a lot of the information was stuff I already knew, like Aristotelian logic, and so acted more as a useful ...more
Lucas Michael
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Love the book. All Prof. Drout's books are really interesting. Would like to go through a couple of times to reaped the full benefit of what that is in it.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed these lectures! I didn't realize how ignorant I was about rhetoric until I listened. Educate yourself and listen too!
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Up until this book, you will have learnt the elements of rhetoric: structured essays, grammar, logic, etc.; but you would not have learnt their position in the big picture. You would not have related them to rhetoric. You would not have known that, at the end, each piece is vital for a strong and persuasive argument. Fortunately, this book connects these pieces for you and demystifies the art of persuasion.

Approaching rhetoric from a top-down approach, this book provides the macro structure of
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I went into this expecting little, but was banking on Professor Drout's other interesting lectures. I was not disappointed. He managed to balance educational and insightful with entertaining.

To illustrate logical fallacies, he used the witch burning scene from The Holy Grail. Apparently this is also very clever satire from medieval scholar Terry Jones on medieval logic, because that logic chain is not terribly far from historical. So hilarious in both a smart and clever fashion.

I got a lot of a
Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-courses
Philosophy of language, lots of Greek terms for rhetorical devices, painless grammar, and play-by-plays on a handful of very good (and some very bad) speeches. My awareness has definitely been raised. I'm not recommending this as enthusiastically as Drout's poetry course (Vol. 4 in this series), but analytical people who have bad memories of English class are very likely to warm up to the subject by listening to these lectures. Drout was worse at grade school grammar than you were, I promise.

Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommend
Professor Drout provides a foundation on writing and rhetoric in an amazing conversational format, as if he's talking to you directly and explaining things that you didn't understand in English 101. He explains terminologies well and provides plenty of examples to allow you to slowly absorb the concepts. I'm starting on volume 2, which is more technical. I don't remember all the information after the first listen through. I expect I will be listening to these audio books again.
Manifest Stefany
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stefedu
Once again, Professor Drout does not disappoint. His examples give you a full understanding of what is being taught and his passion for what he is teaching is inspiring. It many ways it was a refresher course and a reminder to raise the grammatical bar. This course gave me new direction to take my personal writing and my daily business communication. Anyone working in sales or managing large groups, needs to take this course. I can't wait to start the next one!
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
This was outstanding. I listened three times. Professor Drout not only has a passion for the subject, he has a way of communicating the concepts that make them understandable and memorable. Although it probably cannot be considered a full course in and of itself, it contains enough information to be able to go and start using the concepts immediately. It is a great introduction to a subject that I didn’t realise could be so fascinating.
May 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio, education
I hoped the material would get more advanced after a couple of chapters but I was really disappointed.

This is really basic stuff that most people learnt in high school. If your native language has latin roots, this audiobook will sound even more obvious as the author goes through the 101 of etymology.

I listen to many audiobooks on history, education, literature. This one is in the low tier.
Barbara Newhall
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
What's rhetoric anyway? I listened to Drout's fun, accessible, but astute Modern Scholar lectures on rhetoric and concluded that humans are born rhetoricians -- my little daughter, for example, had the basics mastered by the age of two. Read all about it at
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite Modern Scholar presenters. I actually learned some practical points about arguing, and that I've been mispronouncing oxymoron. Now that I know the correct pronunciation I can assure that 1. people will think I'm pretentious 2. not understand me (joke) Great presenter of something that we should all understand.
James Marsh
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Professor Drout takes what could be considered a very topic (rhetoric) and makes it come alive in a thoughtful way. He uses examples from history, recent politics and even popular culture to make sure that the concepts are understood.
It makes me want to listen to more of the Modern Scholar program.
David Everling
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Short and sweet course on exactly what the title suggests, pretty engaging throughout, not bogged down easily and full of practical advice. I like the professor and his lecturing style; he's very self-aware of his presentation, speaks quickly, chooses interesting topics, and avoids sounding too "professorial".
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
For the first time ever, I am fully engrossed in a lecture about rhetoric! I love listening to Dr. Drout. Thank you, Dr. Drought, for bringing such personality and enthusiasm to this topic. Perhaps previous lecturers on the topic failed to establish an enthymeme with me: that good rhetoric can be an essential life skill.
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a good introductory book about rhetoric and why one should study it. I thought it was interesting, relevant, and entertaining at times. The textbook is also very helpful. Unfortunately, I was unable to take the test because it seems the website is offline. All in all, a great listen.
Ser Nico
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Or a 3..5 the chapters on Grammer could have been used for something else, Imo. Not rarely worth it, but an entertaining enough way to kill some time if you have nothing else going on. It doesn't really get deep and is more of a very light introduction to rheotric.
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Who knew writing and discussion could be so interesting? I doubt I'll apply too much of what I learned, but it is super amazing to understand the art of persuasion especially when we are getting ready for an election. So interesting how you can play with words.
Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The course was both educational and entertaining. I highly recommend this book.

"You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." ~Paul Sweeney
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a book about communicating well.

The author communicates complex concepts in a clear, concise, and convivial manner.

It even covers various fallacies, constructs, tropes and more.

If you never had time to take a rhetoric course but need to speak persuasively, you must read this book.
Edwin B
Aug 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I always wondered what a class on Rhetoric was; now I know. It's not only for politicians.
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great book for folks who loves Rhetoric and logical falacies.
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-again
loved the linguistics and grammar parts in particular.
Vicky Kern
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
This was educational and entertaining. I would highly recommend it. Drout is an outstanding lecturer.
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great insights, but corny jokes. All in all it was ok
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Michael D.C. Drout is a Professor of English at Wheaton College.