Friday, September 01, 2006

If It's Not Close, The Can't Cheat

Hugh Hewitt
Nonfiction, Political Science

I tend to avoid the political science section, as 95% of the books therein will not be there in five years. Either they will become irrelevant, or they will work their way over to another section, such as history or economics. However, when this book was mentioned as a good read by someone who disagreed with it ideologically, I figured it was worth a try.

What I found was refreshing. Hewitt's premise is that the next few elections are very important for both political parties, and he lays out his reasons why. The tone is reasoned and the arguments are presented in the classic format, with one point flowing to the next. Hewitt's premises are ones that you might disagree with, and he acknowledges this, but states why he finds them important. And if you do find his reasoning compelling, then his conclusions seem inevitable.

More to the point, however, is the fact that Hewitt presents basic debate strategy in a format that is accessible to most people, and rather than (for example) listing common fallacies such as ad hominem and simply stating they do not work, he explains why it is a bad idea to attack the messenger rather than the message. He tells the reader how to get points of view heard, and how to present those points so that they are clear and effective.

Hugh Hewitt is a radio host, and his book reflects that. Most of the chapters are short, encompassing only a few pages, and they all explain individual points of his argument. The result is a fast read, especially since the copious appendices mean that the overall length of the book is shorter than it first appears. And, quite honestly, it fulfills its function of being a basic primer of political advocacy while being temperate in tone and manner, an accomplishment for a book that is admittedly partisan.


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