Speeches That Changed The World


Like yesterday’s post, this one is going to be a bit different from my usual book reviews.

I picked up this book for a very much reduced price at a book sale. Introduced by historian Simon Sebag Montefiori, it contains speeches by diverse prominent figures from the past, from Jesus Christ and Mahommed to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, to George W Bush and Richard Nixon. Each chapter also contains a bit of the history behind the speeches.

There is plenty here for anyone interested in the past, be their interest political, religious or humanist. I’d like to share with you a scientific speech, one reflecting the best of what science can accomplish.

‘Radium is no more a baby,’ said double Nobel laureate Marie Curie in a rare speech, given in 1921. ‘It is more than twenty years old, but the conditions of the discovery were somewhat peculiar.’

After describing the work of herself and her husband Pièrre, she went on to say, ‘…the special interest of radium is in the intensity of its rays …the effects of the rays make the radium so important … physiological effects on the cells of the human organism… What is considered particularly important is the treatment of cancer.’

The cancer charity founded in her name in 1948 still provides front line support today to people with cancers and other terminal illnesses. Marie also gave her name to a university and a research institute in Paris. Sadly, it was probably her pioneering work that led to her death in 1934 from leukemia.




‘Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.’


[Speeches that Changed The World is available in several different editions from Amazon.]



4 thoughts on “Speeches That Changed The World

  1. I wasnt aware Jesus or Mohamed had transcribers present…
    All kidding aside, knowing what people thought and how they put their message across is an interesting case study, reflecting the times they were living in.
    As for Marie Curie, about one of the most tragic devotions in history, and she must have realised fairly early on the effect it was having on her health. Perhaps she persevered as there was no turning back?


  2. Whenever I see Pierre Curie’s name mentioned, I always have to think of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything in which he describes how Pierre came to pass. While one would assume it was due to some form of cancer, he got run over by a carriage instead. So Marie was right about that, at least. There’s no need for fear because you never know what’s going to happen anyways :).


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