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It is great to listen to Winston Spence Churchill’s speeches. The slight lisp makes him seem vulnerable. The book is a compilation of WSC’s speeches compiled by his grandson Winston Churchill. The book also contains sections of Churchill reading excerpts of his writings with explanations about why and when he wrote them. Winston, the grandson, provides the introduction to each speech with a bit of historical context and scene setting.
I enjoyed his speech explaining about the British Parliament and how it had evolved into its current format along with pros and cons of its current form. There were a number of speeches such as the one about parliament I had never heard probably because they were given in parliament rather than over the radio to the world. The opening was great considering this is the anniversary of World War One. He says “It is the eleventh day of the eleventh month just before the eleventh hour and I am standing looking out across Trafalgar Square watching Big Ben getting ready to strike the eleventh hour.” I could picture it as if I was standing there with him.
I can now understand why he was such a great orator. I felt he was speaking to me as an individual even over my iPod. I have been a fan of WSC’s writings and of his exquisite use of the English language but listening to him I could hear the eloquence and rhythm of his spoken word. This book is a must for the fans of Winston S. Churchill and would make a great gift.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Winston Churchill is a towering figure in the history of the twentieth century, and a master of the English language. I recommend that you listen to the three volume, 132 hour-long, biography by William Manchester (vol. 3 with Paul Reid)— titled collectively, The Last Lion—in order to get a picture of the man Churchill before delving into his voice in these speeches.
Churchill has been called a great orator, and that is certainly true, but this not because he possessed a Stentorian voice, or even great talent of diction. On the contrary, his voice is almost comically wispy and his annunciation is often muddled. He had a slight speech impediment that brings to mind Elmer Fudd when you hear him speak. The monumental force of his will, his penetrating mind, and his razor sharp wit combined to force him into the public forum. He knew that he had to become a great public speaker and set out to achieve that goal with his typical purpose and drive. Reading his biography we learn that he had to overcome his fear of public speaking with designed determination. He spoke from notes, and not just from a brief hand-written outline: He had his speeches typed out in what his staff called “Psalm form.” By this they meant that each line was printed on a separate line, like a poem. He made notes on inserting effective pauses, on where to raise his voice, and where to pound the podium. Just like he overcame his weak body to become a star on the Polo field, overcame a learning disability to become a scholar, in like fashion he overcame his natural limitations, in diction and forcefulness of voice, to become the great public speaker that he knew he needed to become in order to motivate men to undertake the terrible task of fighting the forces of evil in this modern world.
I thought I had a good grasp of the period of history and Chuchill’s place within it from reading his biography and his Memoirs. But listening to him speak lifted this history off of the page and made it real. He made it a point of mocking Hitler by consistently calling him “the Corporal” and purposefully mispronouncing “Nazi” as Nahzee. I have read of these disparaging tactics employed by Churchill but hearing them has forever cemented it in my mind. It is remarkable how spectacular it must have been to witness these events as they unfolded. Hearing Winston Churchill recount the progress of the war gave me a much better understanding of the mood and the times of the Second World War.
This production is billed at a 17:16 package. At about the 10 hour mark I noticed that the speeches were being repeated. For example: At time marker 2:25 there is a speech called “Broadcast from London to the United States,” which begins, “Alexander the Great remarked that the people of Asia were slaves because they had not learned to pronounce the word ‘no.’” This same speech is repeated at the 10:04 mark. From the ten hour point onward many, if not all, the speeches are duplicated. I skipped from chapter to chapter and noticed that up to the ten hour mark the speeches were in chronological order; taking the reader from the years leading up to WWII to the time of the surrender of Germany. After the ten-hour mark this production returns to the year 1939 and the speeches are duplicated.
These are vintage recordings of speeches and readings from Churchill himself and the clarity of the recording is expectedly not up to modern standards. The words of Winston Churchill set their own high standard; one that no orator utilizing all the advanced technology nowadays can hope to equal.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful