Contemporary public speaking remains an important part of our national life and a substantial force in shaping current events. Many of America's most important moments and issues, such as wars, scandals, election campaigns, September 11, 2001, have been defined by oratory. Here, over 50 essays cover a substantial and interesting group of major American social, political, economic, and cultural figures from the 1960s to the present. Each entry explains the biographical forces that shaped a speaker and his or her rhetorical approach, focuses mainly on a discussion of the orator's major speeches within the context of historical events, and concludes with an appraisal of the speaker and his or her contribution to American political and social life. All entries incorporate chronologies of major speeches, bibliographies including primary sources, biographies, and critical studies and archival collections or Web sites appropriate for student research.Entries include high profile individuals such as: John D. Ashcroft, Elizabeth Dole, Jerry Falwell, Anita Hill, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Janet Reno, Gloria Steinem, Malcolm X; and many others. Excerpts of major speeches and sidebars complement the text. Ideal for researchers and students in public speaking classes, American history classes, American politics classes, contemporary public address classes, and rhetorical theory/criticism classes.