Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students

Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students gets the job done, I suppose. It was much more difficult to follow than the, in my opinion, superior Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student by Edward Corbett. That book, from which I have taught a Rhetoric course before, is better arranged with lots of bullet points and lists to break up the prose. This book, though thinner, feels heavier and harder for a student to plod through. The Corbett book also includes complete essays by famous writers at the end of each chapter as examples, whereas this book merely includes paragraph excerpts throughout the chapters.

This book has one advantage over Corbett, however, and that is in the number of exercises provided for the student to hone his (or "her" as Crowley and Hawhee would have me remember!) rhetorical skills.

Overall this is a decent introduction to Rhetoric, but too concerned with extraneous issues, with an extreme (seriously) political bias, a weird habit of frequently switching between male and female personal pronouns even when historically inaccurate (How many female rhetors were there in 5th century Athens again?), and presenting information in way that would make it difficult for a beginning student to grasp.

3/5 stars


Wayne B. said…
haha. Seriously, a political bias about as strong as the ancient South American version of hot chocolate. It was annoying at times, but seeing as there are plenty of books the same way from the "other" side, not really surprising. I'm glad VP uses it, personally, because it shows that they're willing to use the best book they can find regardless of the authors' stances on things. At least, I think that's what it shows. =D
Rick said…
It is a good book. I wouldn't say it's great, but then again, the Corbett book that I prefer does have very little in the way of exercises. I think maybe VP wanted the huge number of practice sessions which is the one area in which Ancient Rhetorics excels.