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Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches In History

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  327 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
An instant classic when first published in 1992 and now substantially revised and expanded, Lend Me Your Ears collects more than two hundred of history's outstanding instances of oratorical eloquence. They are selected, arranged, and introduced by William Safire, considered by many to be the most influential political columnist in America, himself a former speechwriter and ...more
Hardcover, 1055 pages
Published May 7th 1997 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1992)
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Apr 09, 2017 LATOYA SAUNDERS rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a doorstop of a book but I have to say it taught me a lot. There truly is an art to giving speeches but the subject matter of the speeches included were basically a history lesson. It doesn't seem like such a giant book if you think of it as two separate books.
Rivka D.
Apr 16, 2012 Rivka D. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arsenal
I think everyone should read this book. Seeing the written form of famously spoken words has shed a lot of light on what the speakers were actually saying.
That said, I hated reading this book. One of those necessary evils of education that will come in handy later in life.
Here's what I do with this book...I like to read the speeches out loud. I think it is a great way to become more relaxed and comfortable if/when we speak in front of others and what better material is there to practice with?
James B.
Oct 29, 2009 James B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-part
A great book of great speeches. I use this as the primary source document for speeches in my rhetoric class.
Like any anthology, the quality of this book is scattershot. My favorite speeches are listed below, but even the best of the best speeches can be dry when read instead of listened too. I most appreciated this book when it argues for the best of mankind. It's a good jolt to remind yourself of duty, self-sacrifice, compassion, humility and hard work.

I also appreciated the organization of the book, which I've seen others object to. The speeches are split by topic, and then organized chronologicall
Fiona Rawsontile
Sep 03, 2013 Fiona Rawsontile rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writing a review of this book takes some courage, for this is a book coauthored by hundreds of remarkable characters throughout the human history.

I first borrowed this book from one of NYU’s libraries because I needed to write political speeches for a science fiction. It soon became clear that this is not a book that can be skimmed through in a few days. Not a beach read or a diversion you bring to an airplane. It desires a slot on my bookshelf and is well worth the $35 I spent on Amazon. There
RJ Corby
Feb 22, 2008 RJ Corby rated it really liked it
William Safire has given readers a remarkable gift with this collection. Lend Me Your Ears is very similar to a book of poetry - it is to be treasured, read and referenced over a lifetime; never to be "finished" or forgotten.

This book has broad appeal - especially to fans of history and politics. But, anyone looking for inspiration or uplifting can find an appropriate speech or passage in its pages. And, most importantly, the book cuts both ways across the political divide - one can find speeche
Jan 01, 2015 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers, Public Speakers, History Buffs
Recommended to Paula by: Husband
It took me over a year to read this book, one speech at a time with many other books in between. That is mostly because I used this as my fall back when I didn't have anything more intriguing waiting to be read. The book lends itself to this scattershot approach. You can read one speech through, and then set the book down and pick it up a month later to read the next speech. Part of the reason it took so long is because the speeches themselves are hit-and-miss. There are some great speeches and ...more
Matthew Klippenstein
Jan 29, 2013 Matthew Klippenstein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Good book, but somewhat Eurocentric -- which may reflect the editor's greater familiarity with Western history and historical figures.
Also, a surprising amount of recent (late 20th century) material. This was disappointing. While the modern population is much larger than in earlier times -- and there might therefore be more momentous speeches nowadays than in earlier ages -- one gets the impression that this has been a Golden Age of Oratory.

I'd be curious whether the next edition of the book in
Angus McDonald
Nov 02, 2008 Angus McDonald rated it really liked it
Shelves: life-skills
This book has one simple premise, to take great speeches from history and present them to us in English, along with a simple introduction as to why the author (a presidential speech writer himself) finds them worthy of inclusion.

The speeches are broadly categorized by type, religion, politics, military, etc. and have a broad appeal.

Unlike some writers this book does not focus particularly on multiple speeches from the same speaker. Rather each is taken separately and included for its particular
Mar 26, 2012 Liza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic collection of speeches, and Safire provides just the right amount of context to allow them to be read with the same gravitas as they had when they were first given. He also points the reader towards what he believes are things to be noted about each speech, which is very helpful for the aspiring speechwriter or even the interested layman, without getting in the way of the original writing. I would definitely recommend this collection to anyone with an interest in rhetoric, hi ...more
Dan W
Jan 12, 2010 Dan W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a magnificent collection of speeches from pivotal moments in ancient and modern history. It is one thing to hear snips of these speeches on sound clips or in history books, quite another to read them in full context. This book serves as solid reference material, motivation, and an anthology of eloquence.

In the modern age of sound bite, the real art of stirring passion via soulful words is all but lost. This book serves as a window into the souls and minds of brilliant men and women.
Aug 04, 2010 Doug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading the speeches really is fascinating. It puts an entirely new perspective on U.S and world histoy. Reading the speeches from Abe Lincoln, General Macarthur, Judge Learned Hand, Queen Elizabeth and manny more giving a renewed interest in history and what it means to our future.
This book is really not a book that needs to be read in order as each speech is different. However the book does categorize the speeches. Very good book.
Benjamin Alexander
I read Karl Barth's small Christmas sermon in the book. He stressed Jesus' being right beside us in this lonely and dark world. Some of my comments on this notion:

To the degree that God is One He is beside His saints. But technically Jesus is reigning at the Right Hand of God the Father and it is the person of the Holy Spirit that is with us. There is another sense in which God is "next" to all people in the world for He is omnipresent. But Barth was a little off I think.
Rahul Khanna
Jul 13, 2012 Rahul Khanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I am in no hurry to finish this book. In fact, it is not a book to read but to study. William Safire is a erudite and I wonder how he wrote introduction of this book! It is amazing. I marked this quote from introduction ''Tell them what you're going to tell them; then tell them; then tell them what you told them''.
Gideon Burton
This is a solid anthology of speeches, but is organized by theme, rather than chronologically, and many of the selections seem to be very spotty (not all that representative either of their historical period or of that genre of speaking). Still, for an inexpensive anthology (I bought the ebook for under $5), it is a useful book (especially for class purposes, as I used it).
Feb 20, 2007 Lucy rated it really liked it
This book is really fun to pick up and put down--so many great and influential speeches, just little snippets of history. It's quite a pretty book, too, which all books should try to be if they possibly can.
Heather Denigan
Aug 27, 2011 Heather Denigan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The editor seems to have made his selections with an eye towards political correctness than their actual significance or influence. I don't think even Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech made it in--what!!!!
Jul 08, 2012 Scyller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This anthology of speeches is wonderful! Not as many women speakers as I would like, but the quality and contextual notes more than compensate. Just about any major speech you can think of is in this book (and even some you never knew about!)
Nov 05, 2012 HBalikov rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will try to keep this book close at hand. It is full of suprises and delights ranging from a relection on what a dog could mean to a man, to Richard Nixon's eulogy for Everett Dirksen that captures what we desperately need in today's politicians
Anthony Etyang
Aug 09, 2011 Anthony Etyang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read,would recommend it to everyone
Nov 17, 2014 Annamlim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading some of these speeches was somewhat cathartic. I felt a connection to the past in a way that no history class has been able to produce. Really good gradual read.
Howard Cincotta
Dec 31, 2007 Howard Cincotta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I do some speechwriting,and Safire's intro and commentary are worth the price of admission.
Jan 02, 2008 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
sparkling speeches like gandi's eulogy
remarkable sentences from mark twain
Jan 29, 2008 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to purchase this for a class I am taking. It is something everyone should have on his/her bookshelf.
Nov 23, 2013 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting introductions to each speech. Very informative.
Margot Friedman
Feb 09, 2008 Margot Friedman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs, speechwriters
The best way to get inspired to start writing a great speech is to read the greatest speeches in history.
Bob Finch
Jun 02, 2014 Bob Finch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
a marvelous reference book.
Mar 11, 2008 Bap rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, speeches
Collection of Great speeches.
Mar 22, 2009 Bridget rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite gift to grads ... I read it like poetry.
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William Lewis Safire was an American author, columnist, journalist and presidential speechwriter.

He was perhaps best known as a long-time syndicated political columnist for the New York Times and a regular contributor to "On Language" in the New York Times Magazine, a column on popular etymology, new or unusual usages, and other language-related topics.
More about William Safire...

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