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Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History (Updated and Expanded Edition) Hardcover – October 17, 2004
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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Bill Safire's collection of galvanizing speeches ancient and modern is wonderfully done, the taste in the selection eclectic, discriminating, piquant, and enchantingly introduced. Makes for wonderful reading.”
- William F. Buckley, Jr.
“This is the most valuable kind of book, the kind that benefits mind and heart.... My fellow Americans, Safire is a gem.”
- Peggy Noonan
“To teach and to please, some Greek once advised, is the function of great rhetoric, and Safire has put together [a] volume that embod[ies] those functions and their power.”
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Every speech is preceded by a short introduction, including an analysis on what makes that speech great.
In my opinion, this book and Copeland's The World's Great Speeches: Fourth Enlarged (1999) Edition are the two best currently-available anthologies in English of the world's great speeches.
Having said that, I wish Lend Me Your Ears had included more speeches from Nobel laureates and from great scientists, writers and artists.
I would also like to have seen more speeches from people from outside the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. In this globalizing world, we should be reading and hearing more speeches from representatives of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The real gems are safire's comments; they are the most pleasurable parts of the work. His writing is so clear, yet sufficiently nuanced that one can't pin him down as playing favorites even when one knows that he would find the speaker or the speech (or both) completely reprehensible.
See, in particular, his comments to Rabbi Stephen Wise's speech at a Lincoln Memorial ceremony. It is the type of material than one can truly savor and enjoy.