Great Speeches in History (Classic non-fiction) Audio CD – Audiobook, 30 Jun 1996
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Top Customer Reviews
This is not a book for the casual listener. It requires a certain amount of concentration and thought, and, for that reason, the short introduction to each new speech proved invaluable for me. Without a little background information, I feel I would have been left adrift on a sea of ye olde language and intellectualism, wondering what on earth the speakers said that merited all the fuss.
However, a brief knowledge of the times and particulary the belief-systems these famous people had to endure, made me realise just what risks Emmeline Pankhurst, Socrates, etc. took in making their views on passionate subjects public.
I got the book hoping to gain a better understanding of the intense emotions that must have driven these celebrated figures to stand against their cultures and religions, even to the point of death in some cases. What gave Martin Luther the strength to say, 'Here I stand; I can do no other'? I'm not sure I found the answer, or that it was a realistic expectation to think I could from one speech, but I did come away with a renewed awareness of the courage they all undoubtedly had.
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I realize that just being an American doesn't entitle me to some kind of monopoly on great speeches from my compatriots, I would be the first to admit that England has a long and storied tradition of fine and noble oratory. But it seems like the producers of this CD spent a great deal of time representing people and periods of English history that one might be hard pressed to find analogous to anything contemporary, or discover "universal" themes recognizable to us in the rest of the world. In the 1700's and 1800's for example, there are 15 minutes devoted to three American speakers and 55 minutes to many, many speakers from the British Isles (and only 8 minutes for everywhere else). Oddly, there are no speeches by the likes of Churchill, Disraeli, or Gandhi (or even Wilberforce).
If you're American and looking for the likes of Washington, Frederick Douglas, JFK, TR, FDR, Lou Gehrig, MacArthur, Martin Luther King Jr., (even Lincoln gets only 2 minutes for the Gettysburg address), I suggest you look for another label.
Some lovely speeches by people I did not know about who were also given death sentences.