Get Your Free Audiobook

Non-member price: $20.28

After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

'There is a serious prospect that, in our time, we are losing faith in politics. The words of politicians float by, practised and polished but profligate. The respect, veneration and hope first expressed by Pericles has gone missing. It is the grand purpose of this book to help to call it back.'

In his work as a speechwriter to senior politicians and business leaders around the world, Philip Collins has become well versed in understanding what it is that makes a speech great.

When They Go Low, We Go High explores the ways in which the most notable speeches in history have worked, analysing the rhetorical tricks to uncover how the right speech at the right time can profoundly shape the world.

Travelling across continents and centuries, Collins reveals what Thomas Jefferson owes to Cicero and Pericles, who really gave the Gettysburg Address and what Elizabeth I shares with Winston Churchill.

And in telling the story of the great speeches, he tells the story of democracy. For it is in the finest public speeches that progress unfolds, and we need those speeches now more than ever.

While we are bombarded by sound bites and social media, fake news and sloganeering, and while populists are winning support, democratic politicians need to find words that inspire and give us hope. Because disenchantment with politics fosters the dangerous illusion that there is an alternative.

Informed by Collins' own experiences as a speechwriter, When They Go Low, We Go High is a passionate defence of the power of good public speaking to propagate and protect democracy and an urgent reminder of how words can change the world.

©2017 Philip Collins (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Whether it's the inaugural addresses of US presidents - or the revolutionary writing of Castro, Pankhurst and Mandela - Collins' deft touch illuminates and contextualises these moments in history with wit and sensitivity - and the conviction that rhetoric may yet be our most powerful tool for changing the world." (Emily Maitlis)
"For all those who believe in the politics of principle and hope this a wonderful reminder that they do not always lose. For all those who despair that politics can ever be inspiring again this is a must-read to shake you out of your misery." (Paddy Ashdown)
"No writer today understands the art of the speech so well as Philip Collins. His brilliant new book is an urgent tour through 2000 years of human history, revealing how the greatest addresses were shaped, while reminding us that politics and politicians still matter, and that when the greatest men and women speak to us, their words have the power to change the world." (Dan Jones, best-selling author of The Plantagenets)

What listeners say about When They Go Low, We Go High

Average Customer Ratings

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Terra72
  • Terra72
  • 03-12-2017

Liberal democratic manifesto told through history of political rhetoric

An excellent history of political rhetoric skilfully tied into current events. The selection of speeches is excellent (and generally performed well by separate actors) but the real strength of the book is in Philip Collins’ own analysis and interpretation.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for H
  • H
  • 19-02-2019

Great speeches, but wrapped in political opinion

I do like political opinion, however I bought the book with the expectation that it would not be the focus. The speeches contained are skillfully analysed and interpreted, however there is such an evident political bias in the commentary that ensues, that I often found myself feeling that I was simply listening to a piece of propaganda.

I did enjoy the anthology, but I would have much preferred a book focused on the subject matter rather than one drawing opinion based conclusions upon ones own political theory.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.