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Mr. Spence, Your Case Has No Merit!
am 10. März 1998
A breezy text that makes heavy handed use of rhetorical technique to persuade, to convince, to drive home points to the reader. Yet, after a few meager, small, little pages of Spence's rhetoric, I found myself unconvinced, unswayed, and unaltered in my opinions. Apart from the few general techniques that Gary Spence offers towards winning the argument, primarily use of argumentum ad misericordiam, or appeal to pity, there is no coherent, winning strategy to be found in this book. I was disappointed with the lack of content, and with his extensive digressions into anecdote.
Irritating inconsistencies between Spence's court cases and the moral philosphies that he espouses pepper "How to Argue and Win Everytime." Spence, for instance, argues that he feels strongly against the death penalty. He goes so far as to defend a man who shot his wife in front of their young children and the police, by asking the jurors to understand the man's personal history drove him to this most heinous act. Yet when prosecuting a defendant involved in a number of bombing fatalities, he deliberately asks for, and receives, the death penalty. There is no consideration of the defendant's personal history in this example, although one wonders why Spence has not taken this into account. Although Spence eschews hypocrity, do not these two acts seem to be the ultimate in inconsistency? A man who opposes the death penalty should not seek to assign it.
In conclusion, although entertaining and readable for the casual browser, a horrible book for budding sophists. A good text on rhetoric will stand the reader in better stead.