John-Paul Flintoff




Modest, Adequate: First Review on Amazon


The first review on Amazon (screengrab below) seemed so very comprehensive I thought it might be useful to repost the full text here, and add a few links to things it mentions:


Full text of the review, with links added by me:

This is a very unconventional ‘rhetorical handbook’. It couldn’t be more unlike rivals in this market: Sam Leith, Mark Forsyth and Jay Heinrichs.

Flintoff draws his water from many wells. He blends Ciceronian insights with impro techniques, homiletics with after-dinner speaking, TED talks with Churchillian oratory.

We get Flintoff’s personal journey, but he manages to be rigorous in the application of the theory of public speaking. We are moved, entertained and instructed in that order.

Flintoff strains to be warm, friendly and self-deprecating, but his modesty often conceals a highly intuitive and sensitive mind, capable of seeing an opportunity under pressure and turning it to his advantage. One of the most powerful tools of the best public speakers, is to tell us they’re not very good at this stuff.

We get self-lacerating insights into John Paul’s vulnerability, which some readers might find hard to read. He’s very honest about how audiences react very differently to his style of speaking.

In a fascinating passage he shows how he learnt in an impro class that we really can’t control how an audience will react to us, it’s very much how those immediately around us react to us that will determine what the outcome is. The important thing is to genuinely love your audience. That tends to rub off.

I’ve been reading about this subject for 30 years. This book manages to offer many fresh and memorable insights into my trade and makes an ‘elite’ subject relevant and compelling to everyone who wants to be an effective citizen.


More reviews, please

I’m very grateful for the review (update: and the second one). If anybody else looking in here has read the book, please take a sec to post your own review there (or elsewhere).

After all, the better people understand what the book is – and what it isn’t – the more likely they are to avoid disappointment.


Posted: February 19, 2021

Keywords: review of my book, rhetoric, Cicero, impro, mental health, modest adequate