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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Speeches of Note by Shaun Usher.

Speeches of Note: the wildly entertaining new book from the author of the hugely popular international best seller Letters of Note.

Speeches of Note is a celebration of oratory old, new and unspoken. It is an obsessively curated, richly illustrated and sumptuously produced collection of speeches from throughout the ages. 

Some are surprising, inspiring, hilarious; others are moving, comforting, enlightening. Some of these speeches changed the course of history; others are all but unknown, even undelivered to this day, such as the chilling public announcement to be made by President Nixon should Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become stranded on the moon. All are extraordinary.

Taking to the stage are Tilda Swinton, Albert Einstein, Virginia Woolf, Pablo Picasso, Malala Yousafzai, Susan Sontag, J. M. Barrie, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Panti Bliss, Harvey Milk, Nelson Mandela, Kermit the Frog and Nick Cave, alongside many, many others.

©2018 Shaun Usher (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

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  • K. J. Noyes
  • 23-09-18

Speeches given and not given...

Speeches given and not given, world-changers in many ways.

I adored the two 'Letters of Note' books, and was always going to try this when I saw it released. A seemingly random collection, this time of speeches, from modern times and further back in human history, from all around the world.

Some famous names, some not so well-known. But some absolute gems that leave you speechless (pun intended), some that inspire and uplift, some that help put history into context.

I accessed the text as an audiobook, which really is how a speech is intended to be received, and of course, the speakers of almost every offering are no longer with us, so the publishers have assembled a collection of readers to stand in for them. I thought almost all were excellent - elder statesmen's voices for politicians, young voices for the children reading, for example - I only had trouble making out all the words spoken by those reading English with a couple of foreign accents.

A few in particular had me in tears, and though I did skip one or two that didn't interest me, on the whole I was rather riveted.

Some of the most mesmeric were those never spoken - the 'failure' speeches of the Normandy beaches, of the moon landing. Those given by children - a girl pleading to the UN to protect the environment, a teenage boy with AIDs talking of the ignorance surrounding his condition - I was walking along shaking with tears at these. A number were actual recordings of the real speeches, such as a young Justin Trudeau on the occasion of his father's funeral. All but one of these were clear enough to listen to comfortably.

And there were some that had me laughing as well - a full range of human emotion experienced at the hands of a cross-section of humanity.

While I read 'Letters of Note', this is a book I would recommend listening to, despite a minor number of speeches I had troubling listening to due to clarity issues. I would have liked, rather than 'chapter 1', the name of the speaker in the contents, to aid in searching if wanting to find a particular speaker. I would also be interested in Usher's reasoning for his chosen order of speeches, I could see no pattern in their layout.

Powerful stuff. Lots of interest in background detail of many contemporary and older historical events.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

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