This collection of essays around the theme of "theories of communication" by Eric and Marshall McLuhan inform and further explain the latter's work (from "The Trivium" to "Laws of Media").
The book begins with the notion that communication involves change and if there has been no change or effect on an audience, there has been no communication. Its premise is that by answering two questions about an author or speaker-----What is the subject's intended audience? and what effect does that subject aim to produce on that audience?-----one can describe their "theory of communication."
The first essay by the McLuhans is from mid 1977 and proposes a World Communication Series on famous peoples' "theories of communication." Their purpose was to use the two fundamental questions posed in the previous paragraph to describe the communication theories of a collection of well known people ranging from the Roman statesman and historian Cato to NY Yankees/ Mets Manager Casey Stengel and artist Salvador Dali (or more recently would include someone like Madonna or now Lady Gaga). Such studies of these figures had never been done, and would offer revelation of new patterns and insights.
Well, the proposed book did not materialize, but in this offering, Eric McLuhan has collected his father's and his own writings over their careers in a way that fulfill the original intent. The various chapters and appendices deal with characters including Aristotle, Cicero, Thomas Aquinas, Francis Bacon, G.K. Chesterton, Wyndam Lewis, Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliot. They also include articles, book prefaces and chapters that are relevant to this theme (A number of these pieces have been published before, but the value of compiling them together can not be overstated).
During the course of this ensemble, they not only reveal their subjects, but also the Classical Art of Rhetoric and the McLuhan approach as well.
For the McLuhan enthusiast and those concerned with communication as change (like this reviewer), "Theories of Communication" is for you!