The Rules of Persuasion: How the World’s Greatest Communicators Convince, Inspire, Lead―and, Sometimes, Deceive


Have you ever wondered what makes someone convincing or why some messages persuade when others do not? Have you ever struggled with how to create a persuasive message, story, or presentation? Do you want to understand how persuasion can be used to corrupt or to achieve dangerous ends?

The Rules of Persuasion not only explains exactly how persuasion works in all forms of human communication, but it also presents a clear and effective model you can use to put the elements and chemistry of persuasion to work for you in your personal and professional lives.

Using insights and examples from art to history to literature to hip-hop, author Carlos Alvarenga updates and expands ideas first presented in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, adding original observations regarding the role of the audience in persuasion, persuasion in social media, as well as what happens when the rules of persuasion are used to deceive and corrupt audiences—even entire nations.

“From Aristotle to Instagram, Carlos Alvarenga weaves together examples from ancient Greek and Roman texts to modern-day art, film, hip-hop, and social media to provide a useful overview of the tools and levers of persuasion in a variety of contexts. Informative and thought-provoking, this book illuminates the exact ways in which words and ideas, persuasively communicated, have shaped people’s actions and beliefs from antiquity to the present.”

—Jason Steinhauer, bestselling author, History, Disrupted: How Social Media & the Worldwide Web Have Changed the Past

“Many of us in the arts struggle to communicate to different audiences in ways that inspire. The insights of Carlos Alvarenga draw on decades of experience helping leaders craft and convey their message. By laying out a clear approach with examples ranging from real-life coaching experiences to ad campaigns to artworks, he transforms the ‘art’ of persuasion into a practical framework that enables readers to sharpen their abilities to influence and motivate others.”

—Amy Landau, Ph.D., Director of Education and Interpretation, Fowler Museum at UCLA