BP exec comms director John Barnes sent us these “stocking stuffers for that speechwriter in your life” …
Today in History, by the History Channel: I never start a speech assignment without looking to see what happened of significance on the date of the speech. It might be something to which you can draw an historical parallel. This book, and others like it (see below), are invaluable for this purpose.
This Day in Business History, by Raymond L. Francis: Ditto the above, but more specialized.
Safire’s Political Dictionary, by William Safire. Want to know the origin of the term “truth squad?” “Stalking horse?” “Weasel words?” Or (most appropriately right now) “lame duck?” The late New York Times columnist and former White House speechwriter William Safire has the entertaining answers and much more besides. A great book for the political junkie speechwriter to curl up with during the long winter nights to come.
Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, edited by William Safire. A tour through oratory of the ages, from Pericles to Tony Blair. Don’t miss Safire’s preface on the principles of rhetoric.
They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions, by Paul F. Boller Jr. and John George. Did you know that Nixon aide Chuck Colson never said he would “run over his grandmother” for Richard Nixon? Or Horace Greeley never said “Go west, young man!” A good way to keep from citing bogus quotes.
The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation, by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky. A revised and expanded version of the 1984 original, The Experts Speak collects hundreds of the dumbest predictions ever made by newspapers, critics, and business executives such as an L.A. surgeon’s assessment that “smoking has a beneficial effect,” a Decca Records exec’s brainstorm that “groups of guitars are on their way out” after auditioning the Beatles. Book suffers a bit from its bias to the political left, but still lots of fun for finding material to deflate “expert” opinion.
And freelance speechwriting kingpin Tack Cornelius alerted us to a brand new resource “for a dinosaur like me” (that’s us!): Farnsworth’s Classical English Rhetoric, a new book that uses examples from great writers through history to help readers become more effective authors and orators.
Happy Holidays, all.