For those who have become convinced that real oration has practically become a lost art, historic recordings of noteworthy speeches may serve as a reminder of what human beings are capable of saying in public, for better or worse. Even given the fact that this collection of The Greatest Speeches of All Time is volume three in a series and should not be expected to cover more than its share of ground, "All Time" is a sizeable stretch, and the title could say as much about the compilers as it does about the compilation. The time frame, covering a little more than 50 years, has room for the sounds of Will Rogers campaigning for Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as FDR's second inaugural address and a little over three minutes of really sanguine orating by Louisiana Governor Huey P. "Kingfish" Long (not to be confused with African-American jazz guitarist Huey C. Long) holding forth on the subject of the redistribution of wealth, as well as the sounds of former coal miner and swashbuckling unionizer John Lewis mulling over the circumstances surrounding a subterranean industrial disaster. A rather shrill-voiced General George S. Patton describes the bombed out landscape of Germany as "what hell looks like from the top" on behalf of U.S. War bonds; ex-chicken farmer and Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy speaks to congress on his favorite topic of Communist conspiracy, while Minnesota senator and vice president Hubert Humphrey tries to appeal to agrarians during his presidential primary campaign. John Kennedy addresses the need for civil rights legislation, while Nelson Rockefeller and Robert Kennedy lend their voices to the Republican and Democratic conventions. The apex of public speaking is reached perhaps during Texas-born Congresswoman Barbara Jordan's speech to the House Judiciary Committee regarding the proposed impeachment of Richard Nixon. So clear, concise and powerful is this particular speech that some may find themselves wistfully imagining what it would have been like had this African-American woman been chosen to lead the entire country, but in 1974, of course, that was considered impossible. After her speech, all that follows might seem anticlimactic, even when Nixon appointee Gerald Ford pardons Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter confronts the National Energy Crisis, and Ronald Reagan addresses a roomful of Evangelicals. There's enough variety here that everyone ought to be able to find something to marvel or jeer at.
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