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
Any anthology that includes speeches by both Jesus of Nazareth and Art Buchwald cannot be without interest. New York Times columnist and former speechwriter Safire has compiled a collection of diverse and stimulating historical and contemporary speeches that will prove a godsend to the student and a windfall to the librarian. Safire prefaces each entry with a brief, insightful elucidation describing its context, significance, and merit. His "Introductory Address," itself a fascinating and concisely illuminating explanation of the speechwriting process, should be read by anyone about to face an audience. Speeches are organized chronologically within 13 broad categories, such as Inspirational, Sermons, Debates, and Lectures. Not every inclusion is of historical significance--there are humorous ramblings from Mark Twain and Lou Gehrig's folksy farewell--but all are entertaining, carefully selected, and, best of all, in one book. Any librarian who has searched for Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech will find the book well worth its price, and the scope, from Job to Boris Yeltsin, is nothing less than comprehensive. Along with a subscription to Vital Speeches of the Day (ISSN 0042-742X), this book should satisfy all but the most esoteric requests for public pronouncements.- James Moffet, Baldwin P.L., Birmingham, Mich.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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