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Words That Changed America: Great Speeches That Inspired, Challenged, Healed, and Enlightened

Overview

At every pivotal moment in American history there has been a great speech. Speeches inspired the Revolution and healed the wounds of the Civil War. Speeches abolished slavery, won women the right to vote, and sent millions of Americans into wars overseas. At their best, speeches can frame the issues of the day and inspire the nation to great acts.Words That Changed America brings together one hundred of the most influential and important speeches in our history. In the chapter titled "Revolution," Patrick Henry ...

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Overview

At every pivotal moment in American history there has been a great speech. Speeches inspired the Revolution and healed the wounds of the Civil War. Speeches abolished slavery, won women the right to vote, and sent millions of Americans into wars overseas. At their best, speeches can frame the issues of the day and inspire the nation to great acts.Words That Changed America brings together one hundred of the most influential and important speeches in our history. In the chapter titled "Revolution," Patrick Henry demands liberty or death in 1775; Elizabeth Cady Stanton declares the self-evident truth that "all men and women" are created equal in 1848; and Martin Luther King describes his dream in 1963.In "Free Speech," Elijah Lovejoy, an abolitionist publisher, defends the freedom of the press in 1837—days before a pro-slavery mob will kill him for exercising it. Eugene Debs gives the defiant "Canton, Ohio Speech" opposing World War I, for which he is jailed.In "America's Place in the World," George Washington warns Americans in his 1796 Farewell Address against entangling alliances with Europe; Woodrow Wilson declares war on Germany in 1917; Franklin D. Roosevelt draws America further into World War II with his "Arsenal of Democracy" speech; John F. Kennedy announces his commitment to human rights (and opposition to Communism) in his bold 1961 Inaugural Address; and Ronald Reagan stands at the Berlin Wall in 1987 and dares Mikhail Gorbachev to tear it down.Rounding out speeches of clear historical importance are selections chosen for their depth, spirit, and humor. Eli Wiesel describes the dangers of indifference. Lou Gehrig, stricken with the disease that now bears his name, bids farewell to Yankees fans. And Mark Twain ponders the weather in New England.The result is a vivid, engaging history of America, drawn in the words of the men and women who shaped it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As powerful and eloquent in written form as they must have been when spoken. Classics, all of them."—Journal Inquirer
KLIATT
This is a useful collection of 100 speeches that provide a chronological/topical history of America and highlight some controversial issues in that history. Each speech gets a short, useful introductory paragraph and the square shape of the book somehow knits the pages together, so psychologically the pages of pure print don't intimidate. Barnett organizes the speeches into four topics--Consent of the Governed, A More Perfect Union, Freedom of Speech, and America and the World--and then chronologically within topics. Freedom of Speech, for example, starts with Ben Franklin and Elijah Lovejoy, moves to Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger, and finishes with Joseph McCarthy and Margaret Chase Smith. Sections also include some key documents. Freedom of Speech, for instance, has the 1798 Sedition Acts and an excerpt from the Pentagon Papers. A fine collection, useful for students to use on their own or for teachers in class. It wasn't clear to me, however, whether speeches were complete or edited. Also, the text on the back cover mentions a section that isn't here, featuring some interesting, less political topics (e.g., Lou Gehrig's farewell speech and Mark Twain on the weather). Were those in an earlier edition and omitted here? KLIATT Codes: JSA--Recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Globe Pequot, The Lyons Press, 320p. bibliog. index., $13.95.. Ages 12 to adult.
—Daniel Levinson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592287956
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,141,847
  • Product dimensions: 6.75 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Barnett is a book editor and freelance writer. He is the editor of The Quotable American. He grew up in New York City and graduated from Williams College. He is a cruising sailor, inveterate traveler, and student of Americana.

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