Skip to Main Content

Speaking of America

United States Presidents and the Words That Changed History

Illustrated by Vivian Shih

About The Book

From New York Times bestselling author Jared Cohen comes an encouraging and engaging debut children’s book that brings United States history to life through forty-five compelling presidential quotes, demonstrating the power of words and inspiring hope for the future of America.

From 1776 to the present day, the Presidents of the United States have been America’s most important public speakers. Their words have inspired change throughout the highs and lows of history, from the Declaration of Independence to declarations in support of civil rights, and everything in between.

Why did George Washington call for “good faith and justice towards all nations” in his farewell address? What did it mean for Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim, in the middle of the Great Depression, that “the only thing to fear is fear itself?” And in one of the most famous presidential speeches ever given, the Gettysburg Address, why did Abraham Lincoln choose to begin with math (“four score and seven years ago”)?

In Speaking of America, the meaning and historical impact of quotes from the first forty-five American presidents are illuminated with wit and warmth. Full of fascinating facts that take listeners behind the scenes of American history, this captivating nonfiction book shows how US presidents have used their words to encourage, explain, assert, and defend—while equipping future leaders with the knowledge that they too have the power to change the world.

About The Author

Esther Nisanova

Jared Cohen is the president of global affairs and cohead of applied innovation at Goldman Sachs, where he joined as a partner and member of the firm’s management committee in 2022. Before joining Goldman Sachs, he was CEO of Jigsaw, which he founded at Alphabet Inc. in 2016.  Prior to that, he was Google’s first director of ideas and chief advisor to Google’s chief executive officer and executive chairman Eric Schmidt. From 2006 to 2010, he served as a member of the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff and as a close advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. He is a New York Times bestselling author of five books, most recently Accidental Presidents: Eight Men Who Changed America. He has been named to the Time 100 list, Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” and Fortune’s “40 Under 40.” He lives in New York City with his wife and three daughters.

About The Illustrator

Vivian Shih is a Taiwanese American illustrator, art director, and designer. Her work has appeared in various digital and print media, including The Los Angeles Times, NPR, promotions for Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, and the critically acclaimed novel African Town by Charles Waters and Irene Latham. Vivian was raised in California and is now based in Brooklyn, New York.

Why We Love It

“This book is American history at its most honest and hopeful! With humorous, accessible prose, Jared Cohen makes the past both interesting and relevant, while Vivian Shih’s colorful, immersive scenes bring both the presidents and the American people to life in rich detail. But best of all, this book proves to young readers that our words—and their words—really do have the power to change the world. Within these pages, history doesn’t just feel important: it becomes utterly captivating!”

—Feather F., Editor, on Speaking of America

Product Details

Raves and Reviews

“Cohen’s inviting and informative book of short quotes, excerpted from longer speeches from all 46 U.S. presidents, showcases the power words have to shape and reflect history. . . . Shih’s appealing color illustrations support these carefully chosen quotes and the thoughtful explanations on their impact and why they still matter. Useful for debating and speech writing, thanks to the included writing tips.”

– Booklist

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Jared Cohen