The People Speak

Written by Anthony Arnove Colin Firth
Review by Edward James

You probably know Colin Firth better as an actor than an author, so it may be no surprise to learn that The People Speak began as a stage performance and became a TV programme before becoming a book. The project was inspired by A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, which began as a book and became a series of readings.

Like its American counterpart, The People Speak is a compilation of brief extracts from the speeches and writings of various radicals and dissenters. It includes nearly 200 contributions ranging from Karl Marx to ‘pensioner Nellie’ (describing the Poll Tax revolt of 1990). At over 500 pages with no narrative thread this is not a book to read, but rather to dip into. It probably works better in dramatised form.