Book Review: Let Every Nation Know

Let Every Nation Know

No.  It’s not the latest book on missions by John Piper. 

Let Every Nation Know: John F. Kennedy in His Own Words examines the public speeches of President Kennedy.  From his presidential campaign to his last speech in 1963, authors Robert Dallek and Terry Golway guide us through the setting and significance of his notable addresses. 

Even today, Kennedy’s words reverberate through the collective consciousness of our nation.  His inaugural remains one of the most inspiring and well-remembered in American history.  In fact, as the authors argue, his skill with words is one of the key factors to his continued popularity four decades later. 

An innovative feature of this book that I especially enjoyed is the accompanying audio CD.  For each chapter there is a clip from the corresponding speech.  After reading the background, you can enjoy hearing the President “in his own words.” This is a tremendous bonus for this book, and I hope other authors utilize this concept.

Though I have never been a great fan of President Kennedy, I found myself enjoying this book immensely.  As someone whose vocation requires public speaking, I find reading, hearing, and understanding what great speakers say, and how they say it, beneficial.  More than that, it is enjoyable to observe a master communicator.  There is no question that Kennedy was skilled when it came to using his “bully pulpit” to accomplish his agenda, but he was equally skilled in the art of speaking.

Most effective presidents, especially those who are enduringly popular, were good communicators (Consider Lincoln, FDR, Reagan). In the words of the authors, “Substantive presidential accomplishments seem to have less of a sustaining hold on Americans than does memorable presidential language in public addresses.” This book proves that principle is certainly true in the presidency of John F. Kennedy.

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