Strong Voices: Fifteen American Speeches Worth Knowing

Strong Voices: Fifteen American Speeches Worth Knowing
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Release Date
February 11, 2020
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Strong Voices: Fifteen American Speeches Worth Knowing is a collection of significant speeches, made both by those who held the reins of power and those who didn’t, at significant times in American history. Read the original words—sometimes abridged and sometimes in their entirety—that have shaped our cultural fabric.

Introductions by acclaimed writer Tonya Bolden provide historical context and critical insights to the meaning and impact of every speech. Illustrations by award-winning artist Eric Velasquez illuminate what it was really like at each moment in history. This collection includes the following:

Patrick Henry, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”
George Washington, Farewell Address
Red Jacket, “We Never Quarrel about Religion”
Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
Sojourner Truth, “I Am a Woman’s Rights”
Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”
Lou Gehrig, “Farewell to Baseball”
Langston Hughes, “On the Blacklist All Our Lives”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, “We Choose to Go to the Moon”
Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream”
Fannie Lou Hamer, “I Question America”
Cesar Chavez, Address to the Commonwealth Club of California, 1984
Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights”
Strong Voices includes a foreword by #1 New York Times bestselling author and celebrated journalist Cokie Roberts, as well as a timeline in the back of the book, along with letters to the reader from Tonya Bolden and Eric Velasquez.

Strong Voices is a tremendous introduction to the extraordinary words spoken in history.

Editor review

1 review
An Oratory Introduction
Overall rating
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A compilation of excerpts from fifteen noteworthy speeches, selected from across American history.

The chosen pieces represent great variety, stretching as far back as George Washington and reaching as close to modernity as Hilary Clinton. And though a number of obvious classic choices are named (Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, MLK's I Have a Dream, JFK's We Choose to Go to the Moon), there were several excellent works from lesser-known figures (Lou Gehrig's touching tributeFarewell to Baseball or Red Jacket's wry and pointed We Never Quarrel about Religion.) My personal favorite would have to be the wit and wisdom found in the delivery of Sojourner Truth's “I Am a Woman’s Rights.”

The editor openly admits when there were several different drafts of the speech in question, and explains she has selected the most authoritative version available. (I actually wasn't aware of the variations in the Gettysburg Address.)

The artwork has a vaguely oil pastel look, and clings strongly to realism. The pages offering historical context and highlighted snippets come across a little more busy and random in their layouts. The size and shape of the book itself proved a bit unwieldy in terms of reading and transport ease.

Due to the word density, vocabulary, and some of the more complex subject matter, I would recommend this more for a Middle-Grade audience. Though it's clearly being marketed as a Children's book, I'm certain a slightly older audience would glean far more of the meaning and significance of these oratorical treasures.
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