Book Review: The Microphone Men by Priyadarshi Dutta

Book Name: The Microphone Men

Author: Priyadarshi Dutta

Publisher: Indus Source Books

Genre: History

Rating: 5/5

Book Blurb: A gripping accounts of how a few good men, without any inherited authority of military clout, laboured to shape the political destiny of India under trying cirumstances with a newfound art viz. orator or public speaking. The public speakers were actually far removed from loquacious men. They were purposeful readers and serious thinkers who were on a mission to enfranchise their countrymen. Thus they emerged as the new icons of the era whom people loved and cheered. They made the audience feel empowered and responsible unlike ever before in Indian history. They were the first to espouse national interest and demand accountability from the government. Despite the fact that the British were irked with their empire of eloquence, and a section of Indians was doubtful of the effectiveness of speeches, they continued to gain traction with the masses.

Review: The Microphone Men focuses on the oratory movement in India. Most Indian leaders were masters in arousing public sentiments by the power of their oratorical skills and the freedom movement in India largely began and was led due to public meetings where leaders explained their movement and urged the cooperation of their fellow countrymen.

The Microphone Men is not simply a collection of speeches but the author has approached the subject matter in a unique manner by going in depth and exploring the reasons and also the underlying cultural and societal reasons for a paradigm shift towards vernacular and native languages that was successfully implemented by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gandhiji.

“On returning from the West after a successful speech/lecture tour, one always found himself an object of adoration in India.”

The book is holistic and covers the period from early Indian freedom phase to the final building of modern India and the Constitution. A very interesting chapter on war and speech completed this wonderful book.

It also delves into the reasons for the gradual decline of Sanskrit oratory and how political opinions in India were shaped through speeches of great leaders. The author has resisted the urge to merely copy paste speeches (as such books are available by the dozen in the market) and has instead provided the background which makes this book unique and worth reading.

The Microphone Men is the product of meticulous research and it shows. Well structured and not lacking in depth, it is a powerful read that should appeal to all.

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