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The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Speeches [Paperback]

Brian MacArthur
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)


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Book Description

May 1, 2000 0140285008 978-0140285000
Whether it was Winston Churchill rousing the British to war, Fidel Castro inspiring the Cuban revolution, or Bill Clinton defending himself against Monica Lewinsky, great speakers have always had the power to stir hearts, uphold great ideals, and lead nations to new frontiers. This newly revised edition of The Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Speeches includes a new introduction and twenty-nine new selections, such as the words spoken by Earl Spencer at Princess Diana's funeral, Nelson Mandela's "Let Freedom Sing" speech, and Bill Clinton's 1998 apology to the American people.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian MacArthur is the Executive Editor (features) for the London Times. He is also the editor of The Penguin Book of Historical Speeches.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140285008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140285000
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1.5 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One picture of history, not the only one September 24, 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a compilation of some very important speeches from the twentieth century, and some not so important ones. The author has chosen speeches mainly from the Western world, especially the United States and Great Britain. Most of the orators are men (need that be pointed out?:)) Naturally, this has the consequence that the result is a very incomplete picture. Bearing that in mind, however, there are some really good speeches here, and some very interesting. Reading this book is like reading a book on recent history.
Since these texts are authentic speeches, you actually get the feeling of being THERE. Reading some speeches really gave me an idea of how it made the listeners feel ... and sometimes, that was a rather creepy feeling. There are some really thought-provoking speeches in this book, such as one of my favourites: what will happen when we start use planes to bomb entire cities? The speech is called "The bomber will always get through" and the orator was Stanley Baldwin. Most of us are so young that we do not remember a world where wars were fought differently; when that option did not exist.
Each speech has a short introduction where the orator is placed in his or her context, and often, at the end, a few lines about what happened next. The speeches are chronologically arranged, not thematically. Whereas these introductions are of a high quality, they are not sufficient for a reader who is not rather well acquainted with the history of the Western world of the 20th century. If that is the case, I would recommend to read a general introduction first.
This book focuses clearly on political speeches, although there are exceptions.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the sound bites November 7, 2000
By John M
Format:Paperback
This book is a wonderful opportunity to go beyond the soundbites of famous quotes. "Ask not what your country can do for you," ask what else Kennedy said that day. This collection of speeches provides context to many of the most famous lines of the last century -- such as Churchill's Iron Curtain speech, King's I have a dream speech, and FDR's The only thing we have to fear speech. there are also lesser known speeches from the likes of Ghandi,Lloyd George and Henry Cabot Lodge. Pick this book up and add it to your collection.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but editor's judgment biased? October 31, 2001
By x
Format:Paperback
I found this collection to be quite through and wide-ranging, overall very good. The only criticism I have is that the editor and publisher display a Great Britain bias. Numerous speeches by members of Parliamant, etc. are included, despite their seemingly limited subject matter and relative lack of eloquence. I would have preferred that other speakers from around the world have their presence included or increased or, simply, to have had these speeches omitted.
That said, however, I reiterate that it is a fine edition, worth the reader's time and money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History made interesting April 14, 2003
Format:Paperback
I picked up this book for couple of speeches I was particularly interested in and wanted to have a reference - in printed form. Never imagined I would find it so interesting, not just in terms of the brilliance of each individual speech, but also the way speeches have been chosen and connect with each other. Brief synopsis of the background to the issue, followed by counter-speeches in same context give you a good lesson in history. Even if containing only one side of the story - or facts not stated, it makes a great read - cover to cover.
Yes, I wish some obscure ones (eg clinton apologizing..) etc are deleted and instead great speeches from other parts of the world - China, Russia etc included.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History in a Contemporary Voice May 20, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
We all have learned or heard phrases from many of the speeches contained in this book. It was a pleasure to read them in their entirety and find that the emotion of the time came through - even in print - even after decades had passed. They certainly offer a more interesting, inspirational view of history than a dry academic text. The only downside - my English husband was disappointed that one of Churchill's best, "We will fight them on the beaches", was not included.
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