Title: The Gettysburg Approach To Writing & Speaking Like A Professional        
Author: Philip Yaffe
Publisher: Indi Publishing Group
Genre: Self-Help
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN 978-0-9789247-5-1
Length: 288 Pages
Format: eBook      

Reviewer: Clayton Bye
The Gettysburg Approach To Writing & Speaking Like A Professional: what is it, why should we care, and who will it help most?

What is The Gettysburg Approach? According to the author, Philip Yaffe, it's a collection of fundamentals, tips and techniques he hopes will correct the fact that “most books and courses on writing and speaking focus on the superficialities without ever getting down to the bedrock of what these essential disciplines are truly all about.”

I’ll say up front that Yaffe does offer some fantastic advice. But there are also some real problems with the book. First, I read the eBook version: there was no cover plate, just a blank opening page. Second, I don’t agree with the above quoted statement or belief. There are many fine writing and speaking How-To-Books out there. Also, the title leads you to believe this book is about something it isn't and will (I believe) tend to cause the reader to miss the actual answer to the question “What is The Gettysburg Approach?” Instead, the reader will get caught (as I did) when author Philip Yaffe says The Gettysburg Address “incorporates all the fundamental principles, and many of the tips and techniques I hope to teach in this book.” He also claims the address as his inspiration for the book. While I was interested in the unusual comparison, I was disappointed that I had to go to the appendices to find that comparison, then angered when the line by line examination focused only on a few of the fundamental principles Yaffe teaches. Perhaps the comparison just wasn’t clear. Anyway, I quickly lost patience.

To be blunt, I believe the author broke his own law, called Yaffe’s Law, which states: “If you give people what they want first, they are likely to accept anything else you want them to have. If you give them what you want first, chances are they won’t accept anything else.” This was an unfortunate beginning, as Philip Yaffe has written a clear and concise plan for becoming a better writer or speaker.

So, we come to the question: why should you care about The Gettysburg Approach? If you write fiction, non-fiction, speak in public or just want to be a better communicator, I don’t believe you will find a better book for attaining practical and powerful tools for improving communication. The body of Yaffe’s book is full of clear and concise examples of good writing and why they rate as such. The indices (which take up nearly 2/3 of the book) are a set of powerful demonstrations, exercises and tips that utilize and/or emphasize the principles and techniques he hopes you have learned. The only criticism I have—and this could be nothing more than a personal dislike—is the equations Yaffe builds and uses to describe things like clarity. I found them irritating.

Who will The Gettysburg Approach To Writing & Speaking help most? I gave this question some real thought. There are two main groups I believe should search this book out: high school students and aspiring writers, storytellers and businessmen (aspiring communicators). When a youth hits university, that institution spends at least the first two years teaching him or her how to think. Yaffe’s book can improve their writing and thinking so quickly, one could say it would make an indispensable reference or resource. The same can be said for any adult communicator who wants to improve their skills. For example, I’m a fan of The Dale Carnegie method of speaking (although I’ve gone through Toastmasters as well). I might have been further ahead by first studying The Gettysburg Approach To Writing & Speaking Like A Professional.

Excellent book Mr. Yaffe, but the confusing introduction is unfortunate. Perhaps, others will be less critical than I.

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