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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overview of speechmaking in the 20th Century
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...
Published on 26 Nov 2000

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but more.
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...
Published on 26 April 2001


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overview of speechmaking in the 20th Century, 26 Nov 2000
By A Customer
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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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but more., 26 April 2001
By A Customer
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A rush through history not slowed by hindsight, 23 Nov 2009
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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The Penguin Book of Twentieth-century Speeches
The Penguin Book of Twentieth-century Speeches by Brian MacArthur (Hardcover - 29 Oct 1992)
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