Reading and studying history has always been on of my hobbies and I would say that the Frist World War is one of my favorite subjects of study. I usually read and listen to any books or courses on the subject that I can find and generally while I learn one or two new items of interest from each book or course, I generally have never found anything that gave me a new persepctive. This course changed that. I found it to be excellent. Although he made a couple of minor factual errors in a few of his lectures, I found both Professor Ramsden's course to be very well organized and presented as the course focused not just on the war and its causes (which is the traditional material) but also its legacy to this day. Most interesting to me were the lectures on the war's impact on art and literature (first time I ever took a course that focused on this area) and the impact of the war on the post Second World War world (all the way down to 1987). I would strongly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in the subject matter as well as to anyone who has never read or studied the First World War and has had an interest to learn something about it. This course is a great addition to the Audible library
Although I am an avid student and reader of history, I must admit that my knowledge of European history during the 19th century is somewhat sketchy- especially when it comes to the details leading up to the revolutions of 1848. This book was excellent at explaining those details. The authors start out with a detailed description of the catylist for the change in Europe during this time period- the industrial revolution- and they move forward covering critical events all the way up to the declaration of the German Empire at Versailles in 1871. Chapter 1 focuses in great detail on the industrial revolution and at times I found the description to be almost too tedious (I decided after a while to skip over this part)- but for those who are intently interested in the actual mechanics of the industrial revolution, it is quite good. The subsequent chapters focus on the changes between 1815 and 1870 on a country by country basis- starting with France, working through Austria, Prussia, the German Confedreation, Spain, Italy and finally Russia. The analysis is quite detailed and excellent. Great historical names of the past such as Metternich, Bismarck, Mazzini, Louis Napoleon, and Cavour together with their contributions are all woven into the fabric of the volume. The narrator does a very good job with his narration as well. I enjoyed the volume enough to purchase the second volume as well. In conclusion, I would recommend the volume to anyone who wishes to acquire better knowledge and understanding about Europe during the period
This is a very well written and well narrated book. As has been pointed out by previous reviewers the book is narrated by Cotter Smith and not Professor Feldman. The book focuses on the lives of four of FDR's Supreme Court Justices- Jackson, Douglas, Frankfurter and Black- all of whom had a very significant impact on the history of the Supreme Court from the New Deal era to the current day. Professor Feldman does an excellent job discussing the backgrounds of the four justices and how their education, social and political experiences framed their view of jurisprudence. For readers who are very interested in the Supreme Court and how it has become so important in the modern day political era this is a great listen. I would also recommend that after listening to this volume, readers may also want to listen to Jeff Shesol's well written and narrated book "Supreme Power" which focuses on FDR's attempt to pack the Supreme Court. While the court packing scheme is discussed in Professor Feldman's book, it is justifiably given less space than in Mr. Shesol's book. I would strongly recommend both books. Great additions to the Audible Library
Few books detail the suffering of the Polish people during and after the Second World War. That being the case, I'm grateful that Anne Applebaum researched and wrote this book as the information contained therein is rare and valuable. I found her description of the Eastern European social context at the close of the war to be especially so.
She treats horrors visited upon the Poles, Ukrainians, Hungarians, Czechs, Germans, and Jews with incredible clarity and with a rare touch that brings context to those horrors and allows for an appreciation of suffering by one or other group that does not diminish horrors visited upon others.
Her work here is admirable.
Unfortunately, the book does not hang together especially well.
She structures the book in chapters each describing a component of Soviet occupation (Policemen, Violence, Ethnic Cleansing, Radio, Politics...). Each of these components combine to create a context within which Soviet occupation was able to take root, grow in influence, and "flower" into its particular flavor of totalitarianism.
Each chapter then contains a series of anecdotes that describe how the chapter subject was realized in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.
In theory, the above structure could work well, but I had trouble with it in this book.
Any overarching thread felt subsumed by anecdotes. Chapters launch into episodes about Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia but without a clear sense of how each anecdote or episode fits into a larger thesis. Some chapters have a closing few sentences that draw back to a central notion, but while reading, I lost a sense of what about a given anecdote was important. And then, without a paragraph to help put the story just heard into a broader framework, another anecdote would follow. So I was left with a collection of stories without a concrete feeling of why each was important or how it fit into a broader picture.
The author has done quite a bit of research and she's eager to demonstrate it through the inclusion of quite a bit of detail. I wish she would have provided more interpretation of that detail to lend the book greater coherence.
I will recommend this book to friends and colleagues because its subject is so important and books about it are so scarce. I will however not recommend it unreservedly.
The narrator is capable and improves after the opening section which is made up of a series of quotes. Unfortunately, her pronunciation of Polish place names is frustratingly mediocre, as though she didn't approach their pronunciation seriously. Aside from that, she improves over the course of the reading and is not unpleasant. This is not an easy book to narrate and the narrator does pretty well to lend shape to text that hasn't much shape on its own.
She deserves 4 stars in general, but her pronunciation mistakes are so careless that I remove a star.
The subject of the book is important enough to lift the "overall" star score though its realization here is imperfect.
It's a worthwhile read.