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Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History (Updated and Expanded Edition) Hardcover – October 17, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1168 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Updated and Expanded Edition edition (October 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393059316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393059311
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The third edition of this comprehensive collection of oratory through the ages is appropriately edited by former presidential speechwriter Safire—a 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 Pericles’s 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, history’s 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 Pasteur’s paean to scientific education, the Dalai Lama’s sermon on the "Philosophy of Compassion" and Salman Rushdie’s 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

William Safire began his writing career as a reporter, became a speechwriter in the Nixon White House, and re-crossed the street to write an Op-Ed column in the New York Times for the next three decades. He also wrote the weekly "On Language" column in the New York Times Magazine. He was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for commentary and the Medal of Freedom.

Customer Reviews

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A must have on my book shelf.
Pauline Reynolds
Lend Me Your Ears is very similar to a book of poetry - it is to be treasured, read and referenced over a lifetime; never to be "finished" or forgotten.
R.J. Corby
The only competition is Copeland's book and, while Copeland's is more wide-ranging and diverse, Safire reprints the speeches in their entirety.
MichiganTraveler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Richard La Fianza on September 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Lend Me Your Ears is a collection of speeches, based on topic, from Ancient Greece to Modern America. It is edited by William Safire, an old speech writer for Nixon. Still active in the field, William Safire has some good insight into what makes a great speech and how we can learn from the masters.
In particular, each topic and each speech has an introduction by Mr Safire. In his introduction he explains the background of the speech,why this particular speech is important, and what makes this speech, in his view, so good. For the most part, the book is very well done.
I liked his comments and actually have adopted some of his suggestions for my own speeches. (I am an attorney. I would warn the casual speaker that nothing is worse then read the "best speeches of all time" right before your own presentaton. I made that mistake, once.)
Why not five stars? I thought he could have made some better selections. In particular, he focused heavily on modern America and our politiicans. I am sure, based on his audience, this was/is a smart move. By doing so, however, he deleted some speeches that had more impact, more relevence, and more interest to this reader. Still, this is a minor critic. It is a good book, just not a five star one.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on July 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
William Safire in his LEND ME YOUR EARS does not purport how to tell the novice speaker how to step up to the podium and knock 'em dead with a fluid barrage of words. Instead, his goal is more modest, to figure out why some speeches have reverberated through the acoustic corridors of history while others have fizzled out with nary an echo to record their passing. Surprisingly enough, he acknowledges that a magnificent speaking voice can not turn verbal mush into thrilling oratory. No one knows what Abe Lincoln truly sounded like, but we honor his Gettysburg Address as a sublime example of stirring words. What Safire does is to give the reader a sort of ten commandents that the great speakers of the past must have followed. Ironically, this list is not something that one can examine, nor can compare to what the speaker brings to the podium to exclaim,'Ah ha, this is what I lack!' Among the magical list includes a variation on the old saw, 'Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em; then tell 'em; then tell 'em what you told 'em.' Safire translates this as a smooth flow that invites a rhythm to the delivery. He adds that this smooth flow must not be the smoothness of uninterrupted rhythm; there ought to be a variation that allows the audience to catch a breath at just the right point. Other necessities include occasion (the speaker is at the right point at the right time); forum (the 'where' the speech is given); focus (what's the purpose or point); theme; word choice.Read more ›
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By P. O'Rourke on January 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Although there's a lot of valuable history in its pages, I bought this book because I wanted to become a better speaker. Nothing in here can help you with the delivery of your own speeches, but reading these wonderful extracts of some of the world's greatest speeches can't help but inspire. I especially appreciated Mr. Safire's ability not only to recognize a great speech, but also to define for the reader the qualities that made the sppech great and to place it within a historical perspective. I'm still not a great speaker, and probably never will be, but at least this book has given me plenty of role models.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robbie Lewis on January 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is the speaker's cook book. Every great speech since the Sermon on the Mount seems to get a listing, each a beautiful little inspirational recipe for our own fumbling, stuttering, trembling efforts. To cap it all, Safire's editorial contribution is brilliant. He follows his hypnotic introduction with concise and balanaced analysis for each speech. If you are looking for something stirring for the Scout jamboree, something special for cousin Harriet's wedding, or that little extra for Pastor William's Sunday service this is the book for you. I couldn't put the book down. Highly recommended.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Pauline Reynolds on February 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book cannot help but inspire readers and speech writers alike. I've not seen a better collection of speeches that cover the gamut of human emotion and social and political experience. Mr Safire's commentary is insightful and extremely useful for aspiring speech writers, highlighting as it does just what makes each speech 'great'. A must have on my book shelf.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By jlevine@ix.netcom.com on January 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For many, the power of the spoken word to shape both lives and instituitions has been little appreciated. In a time of manufactured phrases honed for the constraints of television , the use language, forged from the soul of the speaker, can literally startle in its power and persuasion. This book should humble us.. great orators are the proper actors in the theater of history.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Raphael Chalvarian on August 26, 1998
Format: Hardcover
If you are already a serious speaker or intend to make a speech with an impact in the near future, then this book is for you. A valuable book to own. For the serious student of life, this book will give you an appreciation of some of the great people that walked this earth and how theirs speeches have and will forever touch our lives.
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