The Rhetoric of Combat Leadership
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of South Carolina Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote
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Table of Contents
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Series Editor’s Preface
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In Battle Exhortation: The Rhetoric of Combat Leadership,Keith Yellin consid-ers the history and the generic features of speech addressed by commandersto troops about to go into battle. Yellin, a former United States Marine Corpscaptain with a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Iowa, bringstogether an unusual range of learning and experience, which he puts to excel-...
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In some endeavors fidelity is the expectation. To stand faithfully beside anothermay be difficult, but it is one’s obligation, one’s duty. This project by contrasthas taught me more about generosity. To give generously of one’s resourceswhen there is neither obligation nor personal advantage is beyond expecta-tion. Only as the beneficiary of such generosity have I been able to produce...
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A familiar practice is so pervasive, in civilian and military life alike, that we take it for granted. Troops about to go into harm’s way expect to hear from their commander. Athletes about to begin or resume play expect to beaddressed by their coach. Employees anxious about their own or theiremployer’s future expect to be told what the future holds. Political enthusiasts...
1. Bracing for Combat
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Speeches alone do not compel men to fight or fight well.Xenophon rightlyobserved, “There is no exhortation so noble that it will in a single day makegood those who are not good when they hear it. It could not make good bowmen, unless they had previously practiced with care, nor spearmen, norknights.” There are innumerable sources of combat motivation: previous...
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In order to observe the prominence of battle exhortation in our cultureand to start noting its conventions, let us examine four exemplars. The firstthree are classics, which cultivate the appeals of battlefield fraternity and theexceptional commander: exhortations by Plutarch’s Spartan mother, Shake-speare’s Henry V, and George C. Scott’s Patton. The fourth, a parody by Bill...
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Certain tensions are necessary for battlefield enterprise. They are tonicswithin a difficult environment that otherwise can leave military units to dis-integrate, revolt, rampage, or sit idly by. These tensions are not synonymouswith the many indoctrinating topics we observed in the previous chapter,although topics contribute to them. Neither do these tensions characterize the...
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The tensions discussedin the previous chapter are inherent to the battlefieldand influenced quite personally by the exhorting commander. Broadeningour focus, let us now consider how environmental and audience concernsaffect the discourse. To enable greater depth of treatment, I choose an era andplace most familiar: U.S. battle exhortation from the past two generations....
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At the start I alluded to the pervasive use of battle exhortation, in civilian aswell as military life, and chose to focus on theory and practice within martialsettings. Even in its primary context, the battlefield, however, the genre hasnot been a popular object of study. Morally, it can be regarded as suspect, thisadvocacy of fighting, this talk. Practically, it is sometimes deemed affected ...
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Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Studies in Rhetoric/Communication