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BOOK REVIEW: SPEECHES THAT SHAPED THE WORLD – Alan J. Whiticker

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–Read Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

     The book is edited and partially written by Alan J. Whiticker. He is an Australian non-fiction author, publisher, with over, forty published books, including Speeches that Changed the World. He is a former teacher and a lecturer, but now works, as a freelance writer, and a commissioning editor for a publishing company.

    Says Greek philosopher Aristotle, ‘In making a speech one must study three points: first, the means of producing persuasion; second, the language; third, the proper arrangement of the various parts of the speech.

    Speeches tell you, what the person is all about. It tells you what the person’s vision, and value is, and that helps the world to carve a moralistic and decisive path ahead.

    The book is a collection of the greatest speeches of the 20th Century says the author.  The speeches are indeed all time great that have helped in shaping and changing the world for the better. The speeches in this special volume are, out of the speeches, from the bestselling book, ‘Speeches that Shaped the Modern World (2005) and speeches that reshaped the Modern World (2008) as well as speeches from the new millennium, that have also moved us, as citizens of this universe—both emotionally, politically and even socially.

    The subject book was first published in the year 2016 by New Holland Publishers Pty Ltd., and later in 2018 by Jaico. The Jaico price of the book is Rs 350.

    The speeches in this book reflect the life and achievements of some of history’s most famous and infamous personalities such as, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Nelson Mandela, the Kennedy family, Fidel Castro and Barack Obama to name, but a few. Many of these speeches such as—Franklin D Roosevelt’s ‘A Day that will live in Infamy’ in 1941; Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ in 1963, and Queen Elizabeth II’s ‘Annus Horribilis’ in 1962, have become iconic signposts over a period of time.

    While the United States has a plethora of great leaders. Only Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, Barack Obama and a few more American leaders feature in this volume. The volume however covers other international leaders. It is also heartening to see so many high profile female leaders featuring in this narration such as, Hillary Clinton, Indira Gandhi, Malala Yousafzai and Aung San Suu Kyi —who provide important perspectives on social issues such as equality, human rights and education.

    The book is not meant to be a definitive list of the ‘greatest’ of speeches of all time—which have already been done by other authors. This eclectic group of speeches reinforce recurring themes, such as politics, war and peace, freedom and justice, civil rights and human rights and cover many of the historic events and issues of the past century. Net-net these are speeches that have already resonated in the world over a period of time and still guide us. Included in this volume are also some of the priceless speeches by Steve Jobs, Stephen Hawking, Julia Gillard, Pope Francis and Barack Obama.

    The thing that I liked the most about the book was that, the author-cum-editor, has endeavoured to provide a historical context, for each speech and a biographical background of each speaker. Wherever possible, the author has avoided, offering his own critique, of the merits, of each speech. He believes, let the words speak for themselves, as they are, after all, the speeches that have shaped the world.

    Some of the speeches covered in this narration are extremely relevant for the world even today. Let me take you through all the topics on which these orations were delivered in just a para, as that will give you the essence and flavour of the book. I’m deliberately not mentioning the orators name which you can find out when you read the book.

   It starts with the muck-raking journalist, compared cleverly with political and journalistic mudslinging. Followed by ‘Freedom, or death, a fund raising speech. Against the War is another speech, always a relevant topic, in this belligerent world. But you must have a peace plan, a good lecture by someone. Can you think of a monarch who can abdicate his throne his power for the love of his life and he delivers a heartfelt speech after that. Then you have the ‘The Jewish Question.’ Followed by, the famous speech ‘We shall fight in the beaches.’ Followed by ‘A date which will live in infamy when USA was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. Then comes the Quit India speech. ‘Aggression anywhere in the world, is a threat to peace everywhere in the world, and that takes us to a famous speech on MacArthur and Korea. Then you have ‘Cross of Iron’ a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. And not to forget the ‘United Nations Address’ The longest speech in the history of United Nations. Then comes The Wind of Change—an address to the South African Parliament in Cape Town. And quite historical is a speech on, ‘The Cuban Missile Crisis.’ Quite gripping is the speech, ‘Lincoln Memorial, Washington—I have a Dream. Then comes, ‘The Bullet or the Ballot’ Cleveland, Ohio about the victim of white supremacist group. And what comes next is the famous speech on, ‘Announcement of Martin Luther King’s Death.’ Next is the ‘Eulogy for Robert F Kennedy. ‘Farewell to the White House.’ ‘Peace with Justice,’ an address to the Israeli Knesset, in Tel Aviv. What follows is ‘True liberation of Women.’ The Falklands War. A long speech on the Berlin Wall. An address to the US Congress. Dissolving of the Soviet Union. And then Annus Horribilis a speech in Guildhall, London. Release from Prison, an address to a rally, upon release from prison at Cape Town. Then you have a speech ‘On Women’s Rights, UN World Conference on Women, in Beijing, China. Then you have a Eulogy for Diana, Princess of Wales, in Westminster Abbey, London. Freedom of Thought—American University, Washington DC. ‘Yekaterinburg Apology,’ St Petersburg, Russia. A Great People has been Moved, Washington DC. Stanford University Commencement Address, Stanford University, California. Questioning the Universe, Technology, Entertainment and Design Talk, Vancouver. Misogyny Speech, Australian House of Representative, Canberra. A World at School Speech, UN General Assembly, New York. Apology to Church Victims of Sexual Abuse, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Montgomery County. Common-Sense Gun Safety Reform, White House, Washington DC.

    These speeches highlight recurring themes such as politics and power, war and peace, civil rights and human rights. What they all have in common is the power to inspire—emotionally, politically and socially.

    Different events and many nations are represented in these pages. Each speech is presented along with its historical context and the biographical background of the speaker to enhance your reading experience.

    In its 283 pages the book covers thirty eight speeches across eras, geographies, issues and causes. The language of the book is rich meant for niche reading. I would give it seven out of ten. A good read.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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