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Eloquence in an Electronic Age: The Transformation of Political Speechmaking [Paperback]

by Kathleen Hall Jamieson
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 19, 1990 0195063171 978-0195063172 Reprint
In a book that blends anecdote with analysis, Kathleen Hall Jamieson--author of the award-winning Packaging the Presidency--offers a perceptive and often disturbing account of the transformation of political speechmaking.

Jamieson addresses such fundamental issues about public speaking as what talents and techniques differentiate eloquent speakers from non-eloquent speakers. She also analyzes the speeches of modern presidents from Truman to Reagan and of political players from Daniel Webster to Mario Cuomo. Ranging from the classical orations of Cicero to Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, this lively, well-documented volume contains a wealth of insight into public speaking, contemporary characteristics of eloquence, and the future of political discourse in America.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An eye-opening, well-written text which clearly describes how radio and television have influenced our political discourse. No one can fully understand politics in the Electronic Era without consulting this fine volume."--David W. Anderson, Indiana University, South Bend

"In her most timely and instructive book, Eloquence in an Electronic Age, Jamieson...casts her learning on the political rhetoric (or 'eloquence') of today, drawing on fascinating comparisons with historical practice....Applying her own criteria, we see that Ms. Jamieson's work not only makes an excellent book, but it would make an excellent speech."--James David Barber, The New York Times Book Review

"Kathleen Hall Jamieson has produced an interesting, well-researched and indeed important book ..." Political Studies

"Stimulating and thoughtful....Jamieson takes us on a tour of rhetoric from the Greeks to Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, with side trips to examine the problems of less successful communicators, such as Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter."--The Christian Science Monitor

"An excellent summary of a subject that in some ways touches us all. Jamieson's in-depth summaries of the speaking styles of Truman, Dewey, Reagan, Carter, Bush, and Ferraro are classic and classy."--Kirkus Reviews

"Jamieson's scholarship, her command of ideas, and her insights are superb."--Los Angeles Times

"A brilliant and engrossing study of how American rhetoric has changed over the years....Rich in anecdote, often extremely funny, scholarly, and somewhat unsettling."--The Washington Post Book World

"A brilliant and engrossing study of how American rhetoric has changed over the years. It is rich in anecdote, often extremely funny, scholarly, and somewhat unsettling....This is [also] an important book, about much more than highfalutin' phrasing. It is about our very soul as a nation, for what our leaders say reflects what we are.""--The Washington Post Book World

"In this important study of the impact of television on presidential rhetoric, Kathleen Hall Jamieson shows how successful (and not so successful) presidents have measured up to the demand for up-close and personal communication....Couldn't be more timely. It conveys an enormous amount of information, some of it academic, some of it anecdotal, with charm and wit and wisdom."--The Houston Post

"I'm extremely pleased by the integration of rhetorical theory with practical concerns of providing explanation and advice about political advice."--John McKiernan, University of South Dakota

About the Author


Kathleen Hall Jamieson is Professor of Communication and Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of several books, including Presidential Debates.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; Reprint edition (April 19, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195063171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195063172
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #946,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Readable History of Speaking October 19, 2001
By WMVF
Format:Paperback
More than a decade after its publication, this book remains a excellent read on how the rise of first radio, then television, as preferred channels of political speech-making went hand-in-hand with changes in speaking style. Unlike many discussions of the impact of television, Dr. Jamieson's approach is far less interested in condemning the rise of the visual than in exploring what kinds of strategies work with television. It's a pity there isn't a later edition that brings the history of political speaking into the internet age.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Over a hundred years ago William Jennings Bryan delivered his famous "Cross of Gold" speech at the Democratic National Convention in a voice that was heard throughout the hall without any electronic amplification. But now we live in an age of microphones and Teleprompters, and as Kathleen Hall Jamieson points out in "Eloquence in an Electronic Age," political speaking in the United States has been radically transformed. Now presidents are remembered not for great speeches but rather for memorable sound bites. In fact, John F. Kennedy's inaugural address has now effectively been transformed into a single line ("Ask not...").
Jamieson looks at successful public rhetoric from the Greeks to Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan (the paradigm for the new eloquence), but also, and equally important, the problems of less successful communicators such as Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. The historical examples and rhetorical analysis is to establish the concept of political eloquence, what it is and well and what it is not, and how our concept of it has changed (and remained the same). After all, when George H. W. Bush lost his reelection bid to Bill Clinton, you had those who distrusted Bush's ability to lead because of his problems with crafting a coherent sentence when speaking off the top of his head and those who feared Clinton's leadership because he was so convincing speaking off the cuff. Jamieson wants to know if television has changed our concept of eloquence so that audiences we are no longer receptive to eloquence in the way they were in the past, or whether it is just a convenient scapegoat for other influences.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars misleading & wrong August 25, 2012
By JT
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this was an older edition that took over 10 days to arrive. I selected "like new" and that came up as "acceptable". Thankfully it was cheap.
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