Picks and Pans Review: Historic Presidential Speeches (1908-1993)

updated 02/12/1996 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/12/1996 01:00AM

Various

Call it presidential rap: this six-CD package is devoted to the Inaugural Addresses; valedictories; policy, campaign and commemorative speeches of 17 White House residents from William Howard Taft to Bill Clinton. Beltway junkies with the patience for six hours of political rhetoric will hear the sleep-inducing (Calvin Coolidge's 1925 Inaugural Address), the sonorous (John Kennedy's American University commencement address) and the spiritually wrenching (Bill Clinton's remarks before the convocation of the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis). To every Commander in Chief there is a style: Truman, plain spoken, at times blunt; Kennedy, master of well-balanced, often poetic phrases; FDR, paternal and reassuring in his fireside chats.

Certain issues transcend the decades: Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt and Truman all talk about reforming taxes; FDR, Johnson and Clinton, about the plight of the cities and the poor. And, of course, there are plenty of historic utterances: Eisenhower, warning about the power of the "military-industrial complex"; Lyndon Johnson's first mention of the "Great Society"; Richard Nixon's launching of the phrase "the silent majority."

There is also an emotional moment, following Nixon's resignation, when Gerald Ford offers succor to a troubled nation: "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men." (Rhino)

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