Joel Deane reviews 'The Art of Great Speeches and Why We Remember Them' by Dennis Glover

The Art of Great Speeches and Why We Remember Them

by Dennis Glover

Cambridge University Press, $39.95 pb, 260 pp, 9780521140034

At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.

So said President Barack Obama at a memorial service held four days after the attempted assassination of Democrat congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a shopping centre in Tucson, Arizona, on 8 January. The shooting of Giffords and eighteen bystanders – six of whom died – has triggered much debate in the United States as to whether there has been an escalation of violent words and images since the election of Obama and the advent of the insurrectionist-minded Tea Party Movement. On the face of it, there appears to be a case to answer.

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Joel Deane

Joel Deane

Joel Deane is a speechwriter, novelist, and poet. He has worked in Australia and the United States as a journalist and political staffer – covering the 2000 Democratic National Convention, serving as principal speechwriter to Labor Premiers Steve Bracks and John Brumby, and lecturing widely on politics and public language. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Melbourne Prize for Literature Best Writing Award. His new non-fiction book, Catch and Kill: The Politics of Power, will be published by the University of Queensland Press in July 2015.

Published in March 2011 no. 329

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