American Voices
An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Orators
by Bernard K. Duffy, ed., Richard W. Leeman, ed.
August 2005, 512pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-32790-2
$96, £74, 84€, A132
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eBook Available: 978-0-313-06175-2
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Covers the oratory patterns of a substantial and interesting group of major American social, political, economic and cultural figures, including politicians, policymakers, ideologues, civil rights leaders, issue advocates, and religious leaders.

Contemporary public speaking remains an important part of our national life and a substantial force in shaping current events. Many of America’s most important moments and issues, such as wars, scandals, election campaigns, September 11, 2001, have been defined by oratory. Here, over 50 essays cover a substantial and interesting group of major American social, political, economic, and cultural figures from the 1960s to the present. Each entry explains the biographical forces that shaped a speaker and his or her rhetorical approach, focuses mainly on a discussion of the orator’s major speeches within the context of historical events, and concludes with an appraisal of the speaker and his or her contribution to American political and social life. All entries incorporate chronologies of major speeches, bibliographies including primary sources, biographies, and critical studies and archival collections or Web sites appropriate for student research.

Entries include high profile individuals such as: John D. Ashcroft, Elizabeth Dole, Jerry Falwell, Anita Hill, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Janet Reno, Gloria Steinem, Malcolm X; and many others. Excerpts of major speeches and sidebars complement the text. Ideal for researchers and students in public speaking classes, American history classes, American politics classes, contemporary public address classes, and rhetorical theory/criticism classes.


"Duffy and Leeman have compiled a collection of essays representing American orators since 1960....The 50 signed entries include every president since John F. Kennedy, politicians, activists, and jurists; despite its selective content the editors have made an admirable effort to represent all backgrounds. The introduction defines the coverage and discusses how the Internet, radio, and television have influenced rhetoric. Each essay includes a brief biography and examines key speeches made by each orator, complete with the events surrounding the speech and rhetorical analysis. Bibliographies accompanying each entry are among the strengths of this work. Information about research collections, collected speeches, biographical works, critical studies, and a chronology of the major speeches can be found in most entries. Primary sources, Web sites, books, magazines, and journal articles are among the many referenced entries. The accompanying bibliographic essay provides general sources on oratory and rhetoric that can be used by students and critics alike. This title will be useful for courses in public speaking and rhetoric, American history, and political science. Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers."—Choice, February 1, 2006

"More than 50 alphabetical essays ranging in length from five to eight pages examine the orators' speeches, styles, and contributions to political and social life. A useful introduction defines oratory, reiterates the rich history of rhetoric, and discusses the effects of television, radio, and the web on the success or failure of these speeches....Compared with former presidential speechwriter William Safire's Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, which is arranged by theme and subject, American Voices goes into greater depth in appraisal of the speakers' skill, effectiveness, and historical contribution. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries and students of rhetoric and public speaking."—Library Journal, November 15, 2005

"This well-researched reference text contains entries for 58 U.S. orators whose differing styles, messages, and abilities provide a good glimpse into the richness of American oratorical culture....American Voices provides an important resource for the study of contemporary U.S. oratory....The depth of research, insight, and references in the volume will impress students, researchers, and teachers alike. American Voices stands as a welcomed addition to the field, and will be a reference source that promises to have staying power."—The Review of Communication, January 1, 2008

"[F]or the right collection this would make a valuable addition. The biographies could be particularly useful in guiding American studies reading."—Reference Reviews, January 1, 2007

"[F]ollows the critical moments, issues, and writings of modern American speakers through the decades."—MBR Bookwatch, November 1, 2005

"This volume is an informative resource and a useful complement to other reference works that cover many of the same individuals but from different angles. Recommended for academic and large public libraries."—Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin, December 15, 2005

"This unique reference examines more than 50 contemporary speakers from the 1960s to the present in terms of style, substance, and ability to shape American thought. All U.S. presidents since 1960 are included, as well as legendary orators such as Martin Luther King, Jr.; Wilma Mankiller; Billy Graham, Jr.; Ralph Nader; and Thurgood Marshall. More contemporary names include Christine Todd Whitman, Sandra Day OConnor, Larry Kramer, and Donald Rumsfeld....Portions of key speeches are discussed in terms of purpose and effectiveness. Well-known speeches such as Caesar Chavezs El Plan de Delano and Hillary Rodham Clintons It Takes a Village can be found in the comprehensive index by phrase or subject matter. Lists of official Web sites, selected critical studies in periodicals and books, and a chronology of major speeches follow each essay. This volume will aid history classes, debate clubs, and public-speaking forums."—School Library Journal, December 1, 2005
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