In Our Own Words: Extraordinary Speeches of the American Century

Senator Robert G. Torricelli, Andrew Caroll

Published by Kodansha USA, 1999
ISBN 10: 1568362919 / ISBN 13: 9781568362915
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Synopsis: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF EXTRAORDINARY SPEECHES, ONE TIMELESS COLLECTION.
In Our Own Words is a record of the most impassioned, inspirational, and infuriating orations ever given by Americans in this century. Featured here are the words of poets and politicians, artists and astronauts, scoundrels and sports heroes, Native Americans and Nobel laureates, soldiers and civil rights activists, humorists and hellraisers. The most comprehensive collection of American oratory ever assembled, In Our Own Words includes over 150 speeches, sermons, eulogies, radio broadcasts, courtroom pleas, fireside chats, public tributes, and commencement addresses.
Beginning on the eve of the twentieth century, this collection spans the Progressive Era, the Depression, two World Wars, the civil rights movement, McCarthyism, Vietnam, feminism, the Reagan years, and the technological revolution, bringing us right up to the threshold of the new millennium, The words of these men and women, known and unknown, challenged the conscience of this country, summoned the nation to wan brought down tyrants, paid homage to fallen heroes, gave a voice to the poor and oppressed, and energized the soul and spirit of America in its most desperate times.
To hear the voices of these extraordinary Americans once again or for the first time is to sit in the front row of the history of this century, decade by decade. We find both well-known and little-known speeches by the Roosevelts and the Kennedys, Mark Twain, General George S. Patton, Ronald Reagan, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller, Billy Graham, Malcolm X, Clarence Darrow, Rachel Carson, Will Rogers, Betty Friedan, Orson Welles, Lou Gehrig, Jane Fonda, Carl Sagan, Jackie Robinson, Charlton Heston, Pearl Buck, Vince Lombardi, Elie Wiesel, and Duke Ellington. Over a hundred more visionaries and villains, leaders and preachers, radicals and revolutionaries tell the story of their age from their bully pulpits and convention halls, their soapboxes and podiums. These are the voices of our nation.
No other century could have produced such dramatic oratory.
No other collection could have captured it more powerfully.

Review: Bill Clinton's televised confession in the tawdry matter of Monica Lewinsky may not qualify as a sterling political moment, or even as a particularly inspired act of oratory. Whether seen as a gesture of remorse or an evasion, that apology was certainly extraordinary by any measure, and Senator Robert Torricelli rightly includes it here. In Our Own Words is his anthology of what he deems to be exceptional American speechifying. (Clinton's first draft was a more accomplished piece of writing and pleading forgiveness than the truculent final version; Torricelli and coeditor Andrew Carroll include both texts.)

Torricelli and Carroll's working definition of what constitutes a speech is broad, and arguably so. It encompasses not only such fine moments of public rhetoric as Notre Dame president Charles O'Donnell's eulogy to football coach Knute Rockne and Dwight Eisenhower's warning about the growing power of what he called the "military-industrial complex," but also actress Jane Fonda's wartime radio broadcasts from Hanoi and Frank Zappa's congressional testimony against proposed measures to initiate a national rating system for recorded music--not exactly speeches, a purist might object, but still useful primary sources for students of the recent past.

A practiced speechmaker himself, Torricelli brings in the voices not only of legislators and politicians, but also of ordinary people moved to heights of eloquence. The result is an eminently readable collection spanning the last hundred years, useful to students of history and of public discourse. --Gregory McNamee

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Title: In Our Own Words: Extraordinary Speeches of ...
Publisher: Kodansha USA
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Good

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