Warriors' Words: A Consideration of Language and Leadership

Warriors' Words: A Consideration of Language and Leadership

Warriors' Words: A Consideration of Language and Leadership

Warriors' Words: A Consideration of Language and Leadership

Synopsis

Warrior's Words examines leadership in the present century by scrutinizing the oral and written communications of 15 remarkable individuals at critical periods of their lives. Drawing on the words of Mohandas Gandhi, Clarence Darrow, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Joseph McCarthy, Adlai Stevenson, and Martin Luther King, among others, the author shows how language can dramatically transform listeners into agents of change. Moreover, the author analyzes how exemplary rhetoric can promote the development of motivation, the refinement of thought, and the binding together of people into positive forces for action. This study of the use and impact of words by significant social figures will be of interest to all students of rhetoric, politics, and history.

Excerpt

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi started his professional life with all the canny tools of a flashy little man: a lawyer's glib tongue, cravatted Western garb beneath the coffee-bean face, the usual knowledge of torts and misprisions which was ready to be dispensed at fees appropriate to the power of a bailout man. He ended life clothed in dhoti simplicity, sustained by goat's curds, selfabnegation, and a projected serenity which grew like a lily from his belief in man.

The attraction to the simple ways came later; after jail and beatings, astonishment at the treatment of some human beings carved and nudged at him until, a man of the people, he emerged a prophet. For that flowering belief evinced a strength of commitment to transcendence which is greatness, and which is the kind of spirituality and polity from which others' greatness can come. Gandhi, the celibate prophet, sowed the seeds of ahimsa -- noninjury to animal life, or nonviolence -- that carried down through the travails of the twentieth century with enough momentum to motivate another subject of this book to incorporate Gandhian principles in the racial struggles of modern Alabama.

Between his May 1893 South African train trip from Durban to Pretoria, during which the newly enfranchised lawyer with the brown skin was forced out of his first-class seat, and the gathering for morning prayers on January 30, 1948, when an amateur radical named Godse fired revolver bullets point-blank into his chest, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the little Hindu from Porbandar, whittled away at his earthly possessions, his mental concerns, and his words, until there came from him an expressiveness as sublime as the truth force, satyagraha, and as immediate as the beat of a heart. For these reasons, Gandhi must be viewed, and studied, as a foremost "orator": preaching compassion . . .

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