David Mytton

Book Review (4/5) – When They Go Low, We Go High: Speeches that shape the world – and why we need them (Philip Collins)

Published (updated: ) in Book Reviews.

Originally published on Goodreads.

I was expecting this to be a guide to writing and delivering good speeches – and indeed it does contain lots of advice – but it’s actually much more interesting than that. Through examining both the content, structure and delivery of quite a few famous (and infamous) speeches, I enjoyed learning not only why the speeches were so compelling but also the historical context around major political events. 

Collins spends time explaining who the speakers are, why the speech was relevant and quotes specific sections, going into detail about why it was good or not so good. I also enjoyed the additional commentary at the end of each grouping of speeches. This was much more than just a “speech howto” and was pleasantly surprised with the unexpected historical analysis.

There are other books which provide more of a guide to actually writing a speech, but I think this would be a good starting point to appreciate why it’s not just about the words and structure. People, history, and what it means for the future of politics are all just as relevant.