Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Review: Undelivered: The Never-Heard Speeches That Would Have Rewritten History, by Jeff Nussbaum

Undelivered: The Never-Heard Speeches That Would Have Rewritten History, by Jeff Nussbaum is definitely one book worth doing by audiobook (thanks for the tip, Jan)!

It features speeches that were never delivered but might have had a world-changing impact had they been given as planned. Some of the speakers are beyond well-known, and others are local entities, but all had something worthwhile to say. (I note I was in tears at Hillary Clinton’s proposed election-winning speech). To be fair, Mr. Nussbaum does seem to have a slight bent for the “liberal” side of the street, but he does include other points of view.

Pleasant to listen to (although his reader for JFK’s pieces does a terrible Boston accent), Undelivered: The Never-Heard Speeches That Would Have Rewritten History also makes you think about how we process the information, beliefs, and stories that come to us through speeches, whether it’s a producer wanting to use his platform at an Oscars win to talk about representation, or a world leader taking responsibility for military decisions he made.

Mr. Nussbaum certainly has the chops for writing this book and analysis of speech-writing (something that fascinates a lot of us The West Wing fans). He worked on several campaigns, in at least one speech-writing think tank, and as a speechwriter for Joe Biden. He gives us a good glimpse of the process, including revisions for reasons ranging from the personal (that doesn’t sound like the speaker) to advice on what will play in a situation and what would be a step too far (see the section on John Lewis’ speech).

This was definitely worth reading, and I found that doing so by audiobook greatly enhanced the content’s impact.

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