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Rep. Ed Markey

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Friends With Words: A Review of Joe Romm's New Book Language Intelligence

Posted: 08/13/2012 7:05 pm

In the war of words, it's the words that win the war. And Joe Romm likes his words short, rhetorical, repeated and repeated again (and again).

Joe's new book, Language Intelligence, is GPS for modern day communicators.

Two decades in development, mining 25 centuries of rhetorical work, Language Intelligence will help readers simplify and sharpen their skills of persuasion. Whether to sway a room the size of the Coliseum, or a boardroom filled with executive gladiators.

Joe masterfully takes us through the main pillars of effective rhetoric. He scripts ways to master the metaphor, and incorporate irony. Solutions the reader can use for speeches, social media, or just winning the debate around the kitchen table.

In fact, Language Intelligence could not come at a better time. Chances are you may come face-to-face with a Romney supporter at the water cooler today, eager to discuss vice presidential selection Paul Ryan and his infamous budget. Joe wants you armed with short, simple words that pack a punch. For example, The Ryan Plan: It robs Grandma's Medicare to pay for millionaires' tax breaks. It cuts 90 percent from clean energy while allowing big oil companies to keep $40 billion in tax breaks.

Joe's language is language for the average Joe. Not typically what one would expect from a writer with a Ph. D in physics from MIT. Joe also happens to be one of the world's foremost experts in climate change, and those who devour his groundbreaking blog Climate Progress have spent years marveling at his ability to give complex science the Don Draper treatment.

While Language Intelligence is not specifically a book about climate change, Joe's frustration with the current debate is clear. The planet is experiencing record heat, droughts, wildfires and floods. Yet an army of the world's top scientist find themselves simply overmatched by partisan PR firms and the climate denier industry schooled and committed to the art of language.

To help fight back, Joe enlists some of the world's most gifted rhetoricians: Clinton, Bush, Shakespeare, Churchill, Bob Dylan and Lady Gaga. They make up an ensemble cast that electrifies the stage in Language Intelligence.

But the true hero in the book may indeed be Joe himself. Crusading to rescue rhetoric from the flogging it has taken in modern times. As he points out: "Many law schools don't even offer electives in rhetoric. It's as if MIT trained its physics students without calculus."

Centuries ago, Saint Jerome translated the Bible from the ancient Hebrew into the modern language of the day, bringing scripture from the source to the society. With Language Intelligence, our modern-day Saint Joe Romm crafts smart language solutions for those long on facts and longer on syllables. Because when it comes to winning the debate, short is sweet, short is tweet, and short is a lesson we should all repeat.

Joe Romm's book, 'Language Intelligence,' was released today. For more information, please visit ClimateProgress.

 

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