Recommended for Course Adoption: Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches, from the State House to the White House, by Two Political Insiders
Professors: Be one of the first to assign Power in Words for your course. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free copy. Mention that you saw it at “Make Me Required Reading.”
“In the long sweep of history, readers will be able to refer to this work to better understand and appreciate the power of words of our forty-fourth president of the United States.”–Dana Perino, former White House press secretary
In his foreword, Ted Sorensen, former special counsel and adviser to President John F. Kennedy, suggests that President Obama’s campaign speeches place him with the oratorical greats, “the first indication that he would rank with Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Kennedy.” In Power in Words, political insiders Mary Frances Berry and 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. Berry and Gottheimer include a rich introduction to every speech that features political analysis and provides insight and historical context. Power in Words includes commentary from Jon Favreau, Obama’s chief speechwriter, as well as former presidential speechwriters such as Michael Waldman (Bill Clinton) and Michael Gerson (George W. Bush).
A note from Mary Frances Berry and Josh Gottheimer
Power of Words takes readers behind the scenes of Barack Obama’s rhetorical adventure, from his days as a community organizer and State Senator in Illinois to the night of the 2008 election. In all, eighteen speeches are dissected in detail, both as historical and rhetorical documents. It is not just the words, but the stories that accompany each speech—why they were chosen, who shaped them—that show their lasting impact.
Even those who disagree with the President’s policies can recall the first time they heard him speak from the pulpit at the 2004 Democratic National Convention or later in Iowa and New Hampshire during the onset of the 2008 primary season. His power as a speaker and orator moved a portion of Americans, who believed all hope was lost, to see things differently. In our book, readers will meet the five speechwriters responsible for much of the “change” message Barack Obama delivered during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. We go behind the scenes of their caffeine-fueled world, filled with group writing sessions and all-nighters that were the norm during the campaign.
The title, Power in Words, was drawn from President Obama’s announcement speech in February 2007, when he said, “The life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible. He tells us that there is power in words.” While not a direct quote from Lincoln, Obama was paraphrasing a man, like himself, who understood that words mattered and that each carried its own power. Within the eighteen chapters of Power in Words, this will only become more palpable.
In writing this book, we blended our thorough research of Obama’s rhetoric before and during his campaign with in-depth analysis. Having both spent time at the highest levels of government, there is no one who understands the power of words better.
Power in Words was not written to judge his Presidency, but to illuminate the words that fueled a movement that elected Barack Obama President of the United States. The book will serve as the authoritative source on rhetoric and speech writing methodology that defined Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.
For the Table of Contents, click here.
To order an examination copy, click here.