Book review


President Barack Obama has consistently been extolled as a great writer and wordsmith, but is this praise justified?

To be sure, the president’s oratory has at times been highly effective. Many cite his rousing speeches as a major factor in his election in 2008. But the ability to speak motivationally on occasion does not necessarily imply the ability to use good English – or to be a consistently great orator. A dissection of President Obama’s speeches and remarks leads to the counterintuitive conclusion that the First Wordsmith is, in fact, an occasional stem-winder who is grammatically challenged – a failing that may in the end limit his ability to communicate at the highest level and to establish an enduring legacy in the upper tier of great presidents. (See the introduction to OBAMA GRAMMAR.)

In OBAMA GRAMMAR, William Proctor, a widely published author, editor and grammar consultant, has analyzed the grammar, usage and rhetoric in President Obama's speeches and remarks over a one-year period. These presentations, posted on the White House Web site, include approximately 3000 pages of written text.

Proctor – the author, co-author or ghostwriter of more than 80 books, including several bestsellers – has dramatically raised the grammar and writing scores of many high school tutees, often by hundreds of points, through SAT and ACT tutorials. As a grammar expert, Proctor has developed a test-preparation program that features the most-tested grammar and usage categories on standardized college admissions tests. The 10 chapters in OBAMA GRAMMAR are based on his research.

OBAMA GRAMMAR continues the public fascination with English mechanics that made "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss a runaway bestseller. But OBAMA GRAMMAR provides a unique twist as the only book that analyzes a U.S. president’s grammar and compares and contrasts that president’s English skills with those of previous presidents.


William Proctor, a graduate of Harvard College (magna cum laude in history) and Harvard Law School, has authored, coauthored or ghostwritten more than 80 books in a wide variety of fields, including health and fitness, business and investments, religion, personal motivation, politics, media bias and education. He is also the author of three novels.

Proctor’s books, which have sold more than 10 million copies in over 40 languages, include several international bestsellers and feature an 18-week appearance on The New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list. His books have been recognized for many publishing industry awards, including the Templeton Foundation Book of Distinction award.

Publishers of Proctor’s books include Scribner, Avon, Bantam, Doubleday, McGraw-Hill, William Morrow, Thomas Nelson, Simon & Schuster, Times Books, Warner Books, Broadman & Holman, and others. His bylined articles, published as book excerpts or original assignments, have appeared in Reader’s Digest, Parade, Family Circle, Glamour, Redbook, the New York Daily News and other national publications.

A member of the Texas State Bar and a former reporter, legal correspondent and crime writer for the New York Daily News, Proctor has been a faculty member for the Harvard Medical School’s Department of Continuing Education and has served twice as guest lecturer on essay writing at Hanoi University in Vietnam. In 2011, he was guest lecturer on standardized test taking at a conference in Shanghai. He has been featured on hundreds of national and local radio, TV, Internet and print outlets, including Fox News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, the Harvard Law Bulletin and the Columbia Journalism Review.

Proctor conducts English writing, grammar and usage seminars and tutorials for SAT/ACT prep through College Application Consultants, Inc. For further biographical information, see his Web site,

OBAMA GRAMMAR: Using the President's Bloopers to Improve Your English by William Proctor

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William Proctor
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OBAMA GRAMMAR: Using the President's Bloopers to Improve Your English

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