Guided by Voices
WORDS LIKE LOADED PISTOLS:
Rhetoric From Aristotle to Obama.
By Sam Leith.
Basic Books. 312 pp. $26.99
In the Kuwaiti desert in March 2003, before 800 soldiers of the Royal Irish Regiment, British army colonel Tim Collins made a dazzling eve-of-battle speech. With Shakespearean flourishes and the moral fine-tuning of Jehovah, he instructed the troops to “tread lightly” in “the birthplace of Abraham,” though some would kill, others would be killed, and there would be “no time for sorrow.” Iraq’s children would one day acknowledge that the “the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.” Reporters and their audiences, including President George W. Bush, were electrified. Months later, however, Sam Leith, a writer and former literary editor of The Daily Telegraph, spoke to a high-ranking officer who suspected the speech had sunk like a stone before the immediate audience, youngsters more worried about staying alive in the desert than in history books.
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Darcy Courteau is an assistant editor of The Wilson Quarterly.more from this author >>
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