Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln
and the Structure of Reason
by David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften
“I do not seek applause, nor to amuse the people, I want to convince them.” —Abraham Lincoln
Almost nobody noticed. In January 2011, President Obama completely changed the structure of his speeches. A few people, like Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal and Gustav Niebuhr in The Huffington Post, figured out something was up. But neither could pin it down.
Now the complete story is told and the technique is revealed. This is the one Obama book everyone should read. It is the one book on how to craft a persuasive speech that everyone needs.
Authors David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften show precisely how President Obama’s 2011 speeches have the same structure used by Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address (and in virtually all of Lincoln's great speeches). The authors summarize and analyze President Obama’s speeches and demonstrate how structure conveys meaning. Hirsch and Van Haften broke “Lincoln’s code” regarding how Lincoln wrote his speeches, identifying and explaining this unique structure in Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason (November, 2010). Now, they reveal President Obama’s use of this same structure. President Obama’s use of this persuasive structure is easier to understand, and more straightforward than Lincoln’s.
This book not only tells the story and explains the technique. It links to video of the Obama speeches discussed. Read it, see it, and understand it. A short analysis before each speech points out unusual or special structural characteristics. After each speech is a summary of its contents derived from the structure.
The book presents an easy to understand, new perspective, on the modern presidency. The book provides tools everybody can use in their daily life. Anyone who needs to persuade can use these tools to save time, be sharper, and be persuasive.
The more recent speeches in this section of the website supplement the speeches in the book. The book generally has more analysis per speech.