Thank You for Arguing

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Thank You for Arguing Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jay Heinrichs's Thank You for Arguing. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Jay Heinrichs

Jay Heinrichs grew up in Connecticut and began his career as a journalist. In the 1980s he worked in publishing, and later became the head of Spirit, the inflight magazine for Southwest Airlines. In the late nineties, Heinrichs retired from publishing and began writing full-time. He’s published three books, all of which revolve around the art of rhetoric, his lifelong passion: Thank You for Arguing (2007), Winning Arguments (2010), and Word Hero (2011). Heinrichs lives in New Hampshire with his wife, and he has two adult children, both of whom feature prominently in his books.
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Historical Context of Thank You for Arguing

Heinrichs mentions many important historical events to illustrate rhetorical concepts. He’s particularly interested in two historical periods: first, the late Roman Republic, during which rhetoric was considered one of the fundamental arts of leadership, and orators like Marcus Tullius Cicero perfected the art of public speaking; second, the early years of the United States, during which the Founding Fathers tried to build a democracy governed by a group of educated, rhetorically-trained citizens. More than once, Heinrichs cites President Barack Obama, who was elected in 2008 and reelected in 2012, as an example of a great orator.

Other Books Related to Thank You for Arguing

Thank You for Arguing is written in an irregular fashion, and in many ways, it could be considered a self-help book—like most self-help books, it’s designed to help readers improve their minds and live happier lives, and it’s written in the first person, with frequent references to the author’s life, as well as the lives of great figures of the past. Perhaps the most influential self-help book ever written is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1937); Carnegie pioneered the self-help genre, dividing up his argument into clear, distinct steps and citing his own experiences to strengthen his argument—techniques that Heinrichs uses to great effect in his own books. For an interesting account of the history and psychology of the self-help genre, readers might want to check out Louis Menand’s New Yorker article “The Life Biz,” available online.
Key Facts about Thank You for Arguing
  • Full Title: Thank You For Arguing; What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion
  • When Written: 2002-2006
  • Where Written: New Hampshire and Connecticut
  • When Published: February 27, 2007 (revised edition August 6, 2013)
  • Genre: Nonfiction, rhetoric, self-help
  • Point of View: First person

Extra Credit for Thank You for Arguing

Famous clients. In addition to his work as a writer and a journalist, Jay Heinrichs has built a career out of “persuasion consulting” for high-paying clients, including Southwest Airlines, the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA, Harvard University, and Walmart. Which would explain how he lives on a 150-acre property in New Hampshire…

College-ready. Thank You For Arguing has been very popular in high school and college classrooms—in fact, as of 2015, it had been taught in more than 3,000 different college courses.