As the world dissects Theresa May’s Conference key-note speech, Philip Collins looks at the speeches that shaped the world (and why we need good speeches now more than ever) in his new book When They Go Low, We Go High.
There is a serious prospect that, in our time, we are losing faith in politics. The words of politicians float by, practised and polished, but profligate. The respect, veneration and hope first expressed by Pericles, has gone missing. It is the grand purpose of this book to help to call it back.
In his work as a speechwriter to senior politicians and business leaders around the world, Philip Collins has become well versed in understanding what it is that makes a speech great.
When They Go Low, We Go High explores the ways in which the most notable speeches in history have worked, analysing the rhetorical tricks to uncover how the right speech at the right time can profoundly shape the world.
Travelling across continents and centuries, Collins reveals what Thomas Jefferson owes to Cicero and Pericles, who really gave the Gettysburg Address and what Elizabeth I shares with Winston Churchill.
And in telling the story of the great speeches he tells the story of democracy. For it is in the finest public speeches that progress unfolds, and we need those speeches now more than ever.
While we are bombarded by sound bites and social media, fake news and sloganeering, and while populists are winning support, democratic politicians need to find words that inspire and give us hope. Because disenchantment with politics fosters the dangerous illusion that there is an alternative.
Informed by Collins’s own experiences as a speech writer, When They Go Low, We Go High is a passionate defence of the power of good public speaking to propagate and protect democracy and an urgent reminder of how words can change the world.
When They Go Low, We Go High by Philip Collins is out on 5th October. Buy your copy here.
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