cover image The Gift of the Gab: How Eloquence Works

The Gift of the Gab: How Eloquence Works

David Crystal, read by Derek Perkins. Tantor Audio, , unabridged, 5 CDs, 6.5 hrs., $34.99 ISBN 978-1-5414-1991-9

With a sharp English accent and expert pacing, Perkins largely exemplifies the lessons in linguist Crystal’s lively treatise on the subject of eloquence. Originally published in 2016, the book investigates the concept of eloquence across cultures and at various points in history while also providing advice on how best to achieve it. For most of the book, veteran voice actor Perkins doesn’t so much read as confidently deliver the text (Crystal addresses the difference between the two in the book). He also subtly mimics the speaking styles of eloquent speakers quoted at length, including Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., and Winston Churchill. The audio edition gets bogged down by the later chapters, which deal with the technical aspects of public speaking, including pitch, cadence, and pacing. There’s a chapter on modifying notes to help individuals read eloquently that’s basically useless in the audio version (Perkins indicates where the symbols appear in the text but doesn’t follow them). Overall, Perkins’s versatile narration enhances Crystal’s book in ways that are especially suited to the subject. [em]A Yale Univ. paperback. (Mar.) [/em]