From Publishers Weekly
The third edition of this comprehensive collection of oratory through the ages is appropriately edited by former presidential speechwriter Safirea man who knows firsthand the importance of putting together the right words for the right moment. But many readers will no doubt skip his prefatory lesson in rhetoric and go right to the speeches themselves. The selections range widely through Western history, from Pericless funeral oration to fallen Greek soldiers in the Peloponnesian War, to Tony Blair "exhorting his party to fight terrorism." History has yet to pass judgment on the greatness of the most recent speeches included here, but Safire shows a broad-minded, bipartisan inclusiveness in collecting the words of Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, historys losers (Sen. Robert Taft opposing war crimes trials after WWII) as well as its victors. And several of the speeches he includes deal with politics only indirectly: such as Louis Pasteurs paean to scientific education, the Dalai Lamas sermon on the "Philosophy of Compassion" and Salman Rushdies description of a life "Trapped inside a Metaphor." This is an invaluable reference for writers and speakers, students of history and those who simply appreciate great oratory.
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From Library Journal
This new edition of Safire's book, originally published in 1992, retains all the speeches in the first edition and adds 20 new ones, such as Pope Urban II launching the crusades, Bob Dole remembering Richard Nixon, and Colin Powell on racial hatred. Safire's criteria are subjective?a speech is included if he thinks "it's great"?and the tone of his unhelpful introduction is one of strained cuteness. Most collections of speeches focus narrowly on particular subjects such as American or classical speeches, with few attempting, like Safire's, to cover all times and places. In fact, The Guide to Reference Books lists only one: Brewer's ten-volume World's Best Orations, published in 1901. Not surprisingly, there is virtually no overlap between Brewer's 350 and Safire's 220 selections. Safire's book is not really necessary for libraries owning the first edition, but it is a good addition for those lacking Brewer's or in need of modern speeches. With an excellent index.?Peter A. Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., Mich.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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