Anglo-American Speechwriting


Logos (logic) and pathos (emotion) are self-explanatory, but ethos is more elusive. Essentially, ethos means building a bond with the audience, so that the audience will trust the speaker and be receptive to the speaker’s message.

To illustrate, I gave two particularly appropriate examples, about 60 years apart, of how two very different British prime ministers used ethos when they addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress.”


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“Exit Tsar”


March 15 marks the 100th anniversary of the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.The milestone has attracted little notice. It is the opinion of most historians that Nicholas was a failure: feckless, dimwitted, reactionary—and henpecked to boot. But as Robert Massie makes clear in his admirable biography, Nicholas and Alexandra, the real Nicholas was more complex, more human and more interesting than the caricature.

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Barack, Boris and Brexit

unnamedLondon mayor Boris Johnson’s criticisms of Mr. Obama’s column advocating against Brexit were intemperate. They were also rather ironic given the views he himself expressed a couple of years ago in a masterly biography of Winston Churchill. Continue reading Barack, Boris and Brexit

“What essential right can you deny to an alien?”

Portrait_of_William_Bourke_CockranTo celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this post will honor the memory of a neglected Irish-American statesman and orator: William Bourke Cockran (1854-1923).
Cockran was born in Country Sligo, Ireland. He emigrated to America at age 17, settling in New York. There, he became a successful lawyer, a member of Congress, and a friend and confidant of some of the leading men of the time, including inventor Thomas Edison, publisher Joseph Pulitzer and Presidents Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt. He also became known as America’s greatest living orator. (No less a rhetorical titan than Winston Churchill would call Cockran his “model.”)
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Churchill After Fifty Years

Sir_Winston_S_ChurchillWinston Churchill died fifty years ago on January 24, 1965. I was 17 at the time, and have vivid memories of watching his funeral on television.

To mark this anniversary of his passing, I’m reading The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History by rising British political star Boris Johnson. Like Churchill himself, Mr. Johnson—currently mayor of London—is a journalist turned politician, which gives him added insight into his subject, as does his own reputation for flamboyance. Continue reading Churchill After Fifty Years