Power in Words
The Stories behind Barack Obama's Speeches, from the State House to the White House
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
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Whatever his ratings, Obama remains personally popular, widely acknowledged for his soaring oratory. His words were one of the lasting legacies of his presidential campaign and are proving to be among his most effective governing weapons.
In Power in Words, distinguished historian and civil rights activist Mary Frances Berry and former presidential speechwriter Josh Gottheimer introduce Obama’s most memorable speeches, from his October 2002 speech against the war in Iraq and his November 2008 election-night victory speech to “A More Perfect Union,” his March 2008 response to the Reverend Wright controversy, and lesser-known but revealing speeches, such as one given in Nairobi, Kenya, in August 2006.
For each speech, Berry and Gottheimer add a rich introduction that includes political analysis, provides insight and historical context, and features commentary straight from the speechwriters themselves—including Jon Favreau, Obama’s chief speechwriter, and several other Obama campaign writers. Compelling and enduring, Power in Words delivers the behind-the-scenes account of Obama’s rhetorical legacy and is a collection to relish for years to come.
Mary Frances Berry is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. The author of nine books and recipient of over thirty honorary degrees, she has been chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, is a regular contributor to Politico.com, and has appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, Anderson Cooper 360, The Daily Show, Tavis Smiley, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
Josh Gottheimer was presidential speechwriter and special assistant to Bill Clinton, and has written speeches for John Kerry, General Wesley Clark, Hillary Clinton, and other high-profile Democrats. He appears regularly on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN as a political analyst, edited Ripples of Hope: Great American Civil Rights Speeches, and is a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ted Sorensen is former special counsel and adviser to President John F. Kennedy and a widely published author on the presidency and foreign affairs.