As Scott Crider points out at the beginning of this little book ("long essay," as he describes it), the word rhetoric these days is usually employed to describe something that lacks credibility or logical integrity. This is a misconception he sets out to dismantle in The Office of Assertion, a brief but illuminating guide to the fundamentals of writing a good academic paper.
Intended for first-year college students, this is one of those useful volumes that will benefit anyone of high school age or older who wants to write a good essay. Crider doesn't waste a bunch of time discussing format, citing sources, etc., instead focusing on the three essentials of rhetorical writing—invention, organization and style.
So what is rhetorical writing, anyway? Far from being the logic-free twaddle most people associate with the word, it's really the aesthetically pleasing and logically coherent presentation of ideas by means of arguments and literary flair. A good essay, then, is one which can be read with a minimum of effort, and a maximum of understanding and enjoyment.
That's not to say a good essay should include no challenging ideas; many of the best ones do. But those ideas should be well-ordered and plain, designed to promote comprehension rather than undermine it. Crider evidences his own mastery of such clear writing in this book, thus helping readers develop their own style that is similarly effective.
A professor of literature at the Classically-based University of Dallas, Crider uses examples from the best of the world's writing to make his points. The Office of Assertion is a fantastic resource not only for those who want to write argument-based essays, but also for anyone who wants to better construct and present an argument in any context.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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