Ronald Reagan’s inability to sway the American public and press with his speeches at the former site of the infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and, later, at the U.S. Air Force base in Bitburg, Germany, has been marked by many as the first major failure of the Great Communicator’s second term.
Richard J. Jensen highlights the qualities of the speeches that make them, in his estimation, models of presidential discourse. But he also looks at the setting for the speeches—political and historical—that doomed them despite their eloquence. Telescoping in from the broadest perspective on Reagan’s rhetorical career; to the circumstances surrounding the decision to make the speeches; to the drafting, delivery, and reception of the texts, Jensen contrasts these two speeches with two very successful ones Reagan had delivered in Normandy the previous year. The result is a vivid picture of a man and a moment in history. Students and all those interested in public discourse and the presidency will deeply benefit from this mature work by a major scholar of rhetoric.
RICHARD J. JENSEN, an emeritus professor of communication at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is the coeditor or coauthor of two previous books published by Texas A&M University Press, both on the rhetoric of César Chávez. Jensen holds a Ph.D. from Indiana University.
What Readers Are Saying:
“Jensen skillfully details the political context that made these speeches so controversial, focusing on the administration’s inept planning and Reagan’s own stubbornness and arguable duplicity.” --Choice
“Richard Jensen has produced a smart, engagingly written, and comprehensive analysis of an important duo of speeches. In so doing, he illuminates both the Reagan presidency and the political context in which it was embedded. This book will be useful for scholars and students of rhetoric, political communication, and the presidency.” --Mary E. Stuckey, Professor, Communication and Political Science, Georgia Stat
"An important study for those who would seek to understand the rhetorical presidency of Ronald Reagan." --Josh M. Jones, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Communication Division, Pepperdine