This well-crafted, lively book offers a plethora of ways to improve the art of arguing.
“An argument…is a rational discussion in which you prove a point with reasons,” writes attorney Navarra (The Elements of Constitutional Law, 2011). Each brief chapter in this book is peppered with advice, and each is summarized in “The Key,” a one-sentence conclusion. Some of the tips seem self-evident; in “Pick Winners,” for example, Navarra advises, “Choosing the stronger argument increases your chances of winning the argument. But more than that, better arguments make things better.” Other chapters, such as “The Other Side of the Coin,” are somewhat more illuminating; arguments are stronger, the author writes, if they include a counterargument: “Thinking about new counterpoints will elevate your arguing skills to an extremely high level. This is one of the skills that separate the best arguers from the rest.” In “What Will Victory Look Like?,” the author offers a lucid explanation, with examples, of the difference between deductive and inductive arguments. Much of this book’s advice, though, is almost entirely revealed in its chapter titles, such as “Be Open-Minded,” “Watch Your Body Language,” and “Attack Arguments, Not People.” The result may be that some readers find it superficial and lightweight. However, if the author’s intent is to present his topic in supremely understandable terms, he pushes such simplicity to new heights. Navarra writes effortlessly and with total clarity, which will make the book breezy and enjoyable for many readers. In addition, his advice broadly applies to everyday interactions as well, and is often really about effectively communicating with others. Overall, this celebration of sound argument’s pithy remarks, lean sentences, and short chapters make it eminently readable.
A decidedly simple guide to argument, written with understated style.