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The Penguin Book of Modern Speeches Paperback – 25 Nov 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 2Rev Ed edition (25 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140285008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140285000
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 3.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 396,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Brian MacArthur is Associate Editor of The Times, and was the founder editor of both Today newspaper and The Times Higher Educational Supplement. For Penguin he has edited the highly successful books of TWENTIETH-CENTURY PROTEST and HISTORIC SPEECHES.

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I wish to preach not the doctrine of ignoble ease but the doctrine of the strenuous life; the life of toil and effort; of labour and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes not to the man who desires mere easy peace but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter oil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
A must have for any public speeker. This book gives accounts of speeches made by the most famous (and infamous) names of the 20th Century. From Adolph Hitler's first attempts at raising funds to Martin Luther King jnr's "I have seen the promised land!"
It serves not only as a record of the change and developments within oratory but also as a potted history of the last century. The speeches contained within this book not only reacted to but defined and created great moments in history. Reading through the struggles within the British Parliament during the first years of World War Two we get a real sense of the actual people behind the public facades and also a sense of the ennormity of the task facing an empire which even then was becoming increasingly less sure of its place in future history.
One major criticism of the book is its western bias there are merely a handful of speeches which have not been made by Americans or Europeans. Where are the great speechmakers of Africa, Australasia, Asia? This is however a mild criticism of what is an excellent book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RI on 23 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
I picked this up in order to find some great uses of language, but read it through for the historical interest.

It is presented as a chronicle of oratorical skill. This partly explains the Western bias in the selection - the editor's excuse being that linguistic flair is not best served in translation. However, as another reviewer pointed out, the entries are heavily abridged, so there is rarely any sense of a speech's structure. As such, if you want to know how the greats worked their audiences, you will often be disappointed.

However, as a young man not especially well informed about 20th century history, this was a great way to tie together different events, and to see the contemporary spin that was applied to major issues. The editor's brief introductions and codas set the contexts well and help link pieces up, making a highly readable collection of historical snippets that is satisfying to follow from cover to cover.

As a reference book on oratorical moments - how it seems to sell itself - it is limited. As a rush through history, it's easy education: in the moment, hindsight absent, events worn out at school get a great narrative drive.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 April 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a good summary of the major speeches of pivotal figures in the Twentieth Century. Nearly all the important speeches are here from Llyod George's 'Nation fit for heroes', to Churchill and Hitler fighting it out, then to Bevan arguing for a socialist democracy, and finally including some of our latter day speakers such as Michael Portillo and Tony Blair.
The fascinating aspect of this book is the opportunity it provides to see how people of that historical period viewed their problems. Moseley's calls for governmant intervention, along with Trotsky consigning enemies to 'the dustbin of history' gives history a much livelier, vital feel. We perhaps forget once a stage of history has passed or a particular problem overcome the agonising and passion that went into that difficulty which we can now easily judge success or failure. These speeches provide a good reminder of that.
What lets the book down, though I don't suppose it could be any other way, is the shortness of the extracts. A one hour speech is reduced to a couple of pages with only the highlights printed. This, diappointingly, gives the effect of soundbites, albeit tantalising sounbites. Nevertheless it provides a good guide to speeches to be sought out and read in their entirety. In that sense it is invaluable.
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By Monte Carlo on 12 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Can't believe it didn't have the man in the arena speech
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
One picture of history, not the only one 24 Sept. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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. Students of political science will undoubtedly find it useful as a general companion book, but it is interesting for anyone who is interested in the recent political development. These speeches are not the only factors that have influenced that development, but orators often pick up current trends and issues, even before television.
I recommend this book with the caution that it does not give a full picture, it does not even aim to give a full picture and reading this book solely would give anyone a very strange idea about the history of the 20th century in the Western world. Read it with other books, and do not take this as THE truth ... it is a good and interesting read, provided you have a good portion of healthy criticism.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Beyond the sound bites 7 Nov. 2000
By John M - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
History made interesting 14 April 2003
By Umesh Jain - Published on Amazon.com
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.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Very good, but editor's judgment biased? 31 Oct. 2001
By x - Published on Amazon.com
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A biased selection of speeches 13 Dec. 2008
By Jane Hope - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Amazing how some journalists like Brian MacArthur can so shamelessly abandon any pretence of objectivity even when compiling some data as straight forward as outstanding speeches. Thus in his 525 pages of speeches from leaders that span the world of the 20th Century, there isn't even one speech from any leaders of the Middle East and North Africa, such as Nasser, or of any of some of the outstanding orators which that region delegated to the UN, like Baroudy. By contrast of course the relatively obscure Zionist leaders Chaim Weizmann and Chaim Herzog are given more space than Winston Churchill and almost five times the space given to Charles de Gaulle. The same prejudice and inaccurate information can also be found in MacArthur's introductory remarks to some of the speeches. He states that Israel was created in 1946 when it is public knowledge that Israel was carved out of Arab Palestine in 1948 by expelling 800,000 Palestinians out of their homes and land.
It is not a credit to Penguin books to have published such a book containing some obvious distortions and fallacies.
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