Mommy, where do speeches come from? (Be quiet, kid!)

Ed Vilade wanted to learn how presidential speehes got made, and there was no shortcut: He stuck his shovel into the pile and got to work. As he told The History Channel,

I identified a universe of significant presidential speeches, then began winnowing them down based on the availability of first and intermediate drafts and supporting documents. Documentation could be spotty for early presidents, but more recent administrations presented the opposite difficulty. All of the drafts of a major speech by Lincoln would fill an envelope, but all of the drafts of a major speech by Ronald Reagan could fill several file boxes in his presidential library. After selecting a list of speeches satisfying the criteria, I set about obtaining copies of the drafts and identifying books, articles, letters and other papers containing significant information concerning the genesis and development of the speeches. I read my way through, analyzed the content and made authorial decisions as to what was significant and what was peripheral. I then tried to distill all the details into simple, clear narratives accompanied by facsimiles of representative documents to illustrate the process.

And that’s just what he has created, with The President’s Speech. So if you’re one tenth as interested as Vilade in how speeches get made, this is a book for you. —DM

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