When They Go Low, We Go High by Philip Collins
Speeches That Shape the World―And Why We Need Them

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Collins is an unashamed liberal centrist for whom process is all. It’s the project of his book to argue that “disillusionment with conventional politics” is at best a callow, and at worst a dangerous, form of cynicism. Having recruited everyone from Pericles onwards for his debating team, he more than makes his case.
-Guardian

Synopsis

From Cicero to Michelle Obama, these are the most historically significant speeches ever delivered―and an inclusive analysis of what makes them so great.

When First Lady Michelle Obama approached the podium at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, nobody could have predicted that her rousing and emotional “When they go low, we go high” speech would go on to become the motto for the political left and an anthem for opponents of oppression worldwide. It was a speech with the kind of emotional pull rarely heard these days, joining a long list of addresses that have made history. But what about Obama’s speech made it so great?

When They Go Low, We Go High explores the most notable speeches in history, analyzing the rhetorical tricks to uncover how the right speech at the right time can profoundly shape the world. Traveling across continents and centuries, political speechwriter Philip Collins reveals what Thomas Jefferson owes to Cicero and Pericles, who really gave the Gettysburg Address, and what Elizabeth I shares with Winston Churchill.

In telling the story of great and sometimes infamous speeches―including those from Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr., Disraeli, Hitler, Elie Wiesel, Margaret Thatcher, and Barack and Michelle Obama―Collins breathes new life into words you thought you knew well, telling the story of democracy. Whether it’s the inaugural addresses of presidents or the revolutionary writings of Castro, Pankhurst, and Mandela, Collins illuminates and contextualizes these moments with sensitivity and humor.

When They Go Low, We Go High is a strong defense of the power of public speaking to propagate and protect democracy and an urgent reminder that when great men and women speak to us, their words can change the world.

 

About Philip Collins

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Published May 15, 2018 by The Overlook Press. 432 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Sam Leith on Nov 02 2017

Collins is an unashamed liberal centrist for whom process is all. It’s the project of his book to argue that “disillusionment with conventional politics” is at best a callow, and at worst a dangerous, form of cynicism. Having recruited everyone from Pericles onwards for his debating team, he more than makes his case.

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