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Sounding the Trumpet: The Making of John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address Hardcover – September 2, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A particularly interesting discussion of Kennedy's inaugural address. (P.E. Kane CHOICE)

Tofel is a fine writer, a clear and perceptive thinker and a meticulous, dauntless researcher, and he has produced a short book that is long on both substance and insight. (Ray Price)

Tofel’s book ably lets the meaning go forth from Kennedy’s memorable address… (Robert Weisbrot)

There has never been a better study about shaping the words and the message of an American President...than Tofel’s excellent work. (Don Baer, White House Communications Director and Chief Speechwriter for President Bill Clinton 1994-1997)

Sounding the Trumpet should be required reading in schools. Highly recommended! Historian Richard J. Tofel reminds us of a time when JFK thrilled the world with sterling rhetoric. (Douglas Brinkley, Tulane University)

Painstakingly details the evolution of nearly every word in the address… (Edward Wyatt The New York Times)

Excellent...new documents and fresh testimony of the origin and impact of one of the glorious speeches of American history. (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.)

Richard J. Tofel doesn't miss much in discussing the context, the writers, and the labor over the wording of this speech. His research is outstanding. (Dennie Hall Oklahoman)

Sounding the Trumpet allows us to understand that the JFK inaugural address was both Kennedy's and Mr. Sorensen's. Forty years later, it does not diminish either man to acknowledge that. (Clark Judge The Wall Street Journal)

Tofel's probe is resplendent with minutiae...offering a worthy examination of how the Kennedy mystique captured the nation's attention. (Kirkus Reviews)

One of those rare books.... Manages to crisply detail the tale of JFK's inaugural speech. (Jim Ryan Academia)

Tofel tells the full story.... Drawing on a wide range of sources. (Ellen Fried Prologue)

Provides many hitherto–unavailable insights into the making of...the most endearing documents in American history. (Diane C. Donovan Midwest Book Review)

A beautifully crafted gem of popular history. (Seth Lipsky New York Sun)

Sounding the Trumpet dissects the famous speech in minute detail... [and] conveys the tension in the days leading up to inauguration, as its authors go over it again and again. (Joshua Payne Riverdale Press)

About the Author

Richard J. Tofel is president and chief operating officer of the new International Freedom Center, a museum of freedom and a cultural center to be built at the site of the World Trade Center. Formerly assistant publisher of the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Tofel is a graduate of Harvard College, the Harvard Law School, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. His earlier books, A Legend in the Making, about the 1939 New York Yankees, and Vanishing Point, about the disappearance of Judge Crater, have been widely praised. He lives in Riverdale, New York.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher; Har/DVD edition (September 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566636108
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566636100
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,939,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By B. D. Weimer on September 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Tofel provides an enjoyable and sympathetic account of how President-elect Kennedy managed the production of this rhetorical bombshell.

Like most presidential speeches, Kennedy's inaugural was a group effort, drawing upon the words and ideas of many gifted people. Tofel does an excellent job of pulling the speech apart, and showing the influence on particular passages of Kennedy's contributors and advisors, and of historical works such as Shakespeare and the Bible.

Lawyers and other communicators will be inspired by Kennedy's ability to fuse all these sources into one of the most invigorating of all Presidential inaugurals.
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Format: Hardcover
One more interesting book on JFK's inaugural address. Author Richard Tofel provides his version of the crafting of this famous speech. I say `his version' because Thurston Clarke in his opus Ask Not comes to a totally different conclusion as to who scripted the speech. Tofel believes it was a true collaborative affair between Kennedy and White House counselor Theodore Sorensen, while Clarke suggested that the speech was almost totally a Kennedy composition.

History and the facts side with Tofel. It is indisputable that Kennedy relied very much on Sorensen for his writing while the thinking was a joint affair. Sorensen wrote well for Kennedy because he knew his style, a knowledge developed which he worked with the young Senator during the 50's. Sorensen writes about this in his excellent book Counselor.

In this book, Tofel breaks the inaugural speech into When, Why and How.
The speech itself was a collaborative effort involving ideas and thoughts from many Kennedy associates. Sorensen originally sent a request for content to ten men, most of whom would eventually join the Kennedy administration. While writing about collaboration, Tofel refers to how Lincoln's inaugural relied on input from William Seward.

Plying my craft as a keynote speaker and business humorist, I am fully aware I cannot create great material on my own. I need sources, resources and research. Sounding the Trumpet is a great example of the importance of the collaborative process in developing memorable, compelling speech craft. A worthwhile read for the student of oratory.
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