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Sean

Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States Member Since 2009
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  • "This is what audio books were made for"

    Overall
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    As someone with an extremely limited knowledge of music I have always felt intimidated by classical compositions. I could not tell you the difference between a symphony and a concerto, but after listening to these lectures I have a much better appreciation of them.

    The lecturer's delivery is a cross of Lewis Black and George Will--authoritative but wickedly funny. He actually made me laugh out loud a few times. His passion for these works comes through in every lecture.

    The format he follows is a brief bio-sketch of the composer followed by snippets of music and commentary. When he says "notice how the composer uses dissonant harmonies to convey struggle" you can actually hear it. Each lecture is meant to be complete in itself allowing you to jump around, but I found listening beginning to end to be most convenient.

    This is an ideal work for an audio book.

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    The 30 Greatest Orchestral Works

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Robert Greenberg
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (91)
    Story
    (89)

    Over the centuries, orchestral music has given us a category of works that stand apart as transcendent expressions of the human spirit. What are these "greatest of the greats"? Find out in these 32 richly detailed lectures that take you on a sumptuous grand tour of the symphonic pieces that continue to live at the center of our musical culture.These 30 masterworks form an essential foundation for any music collection and a focal point for understanding the orchestral medium and deepening your insight into the communicative power of music.

    Jacob says: "Really happy with the format"
  • "A 5 hour issue of People magazine"

    Overall
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    Story

    If you keep your expectations low this book can entertain you with short 1-2 min anecdotes from old Hollywood stars. Most of the material is from the 20-50s and even as a fan of that period I did not recognize several names.

    The production is incredibly annoying--the reader has sycophantic tone and every story is punctuated by a burst of "ditty" music ("da-deet-deet-da-da"). You will hear that ditty about 200 times by the end of the book.

    The stories are the sort you would hear from the PR department of a movie studio--not TMZ. There's no real dirty laundry, just funny stories and the occasional "Oh you scamp!" moment, but the author is clearly infatuated with his subjects--probably a little too much.

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    Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes about the Stars and Legends of the Movies

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Stephen Schochet
    • Narrated By Chaz Allen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (30)

    Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies by Stephen Schochet, contains a timeless treasure trove of colorful vignettes featuring an amazing all-star cast. This includes: John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Errol Flynn and many others both past and contemporary.

    A. Payable says: "Hanna Barbra? Goodfellows?"
  1. The 30 Greatest Orchestra...
  2. Hollywood Stories: Short,...
  3. .

A Peek at Tad Davis's Bookshelf

Helpful
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Philadelphia, PA USA 244 REVIEWS / 1549 ratings 2525 Followers / Following 11
 
Tad Davis's greatest hits:
  • Can't Buy Me Love

    "Light on gossip, rich on context"

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    I took a long time listening to this because I didn't want it to end. I also wanted to listen to the music chronologically as Jonathan Gould worked his way through each album and single; so I kept taking breaks from the audiobook to catch up on the songs.

    The Beatles are THE band for me and always have been, since my brother and I took the bus into Richmond in 1964 to see the first run of "Hard Day's Night." I won't go so far as to say this is THE book about the group, but it's a fine one, and is well narrated by Richard Aspel. To the standard question, would you read / listen to another book by this writer / narrator - yes, definitely, on both counts.

    It's not the most gossipy book about the Beatles. Gould doesn't have any ground-breaking new research or exclusive interviews to offer. What he has, in abundance, are two things: a rich sense of the political and cultural context in which the Beatles' career took place; and a detailed analysis, musical and lyrical, of every released single and every track on every album. His discussions of the songs are what impelled me to go back and listen to them yet again, this time with a handful of specific things to listen for in each one. (I didn't always understand the terminology Gould uses: at one point, he refers to "the elemental subdominant cadent in A-major" - at least I think that's what he said - but his descriptions are more often concrete and illuminating than over-my-head baffling.)

    Gould sets the Beatles firmly against the backdrop of Elvis, Les Paul, Brian Wilson, the Stones, Dylan, and the Goon Show on the one hand; and Vietnam, assassinations, student rebellions, the Prague Spring, the Chicago riots, the Profumo affair, and the political rivalry of Edward Heath and Harold Wilson on the other. If you didn't live through those times, the book will give you a better sense of the wider world than any other Beatles book I know. If you did live through those times, it will remind you of how glorious (and sometimes gloriously awful) they were. Woodstock makes an appearance, even though the Beatles didn't show up there: they were putting the finishing touches on the "Abbey Road" album. But Woodstock was an important part of the cultural background; it's impossible to understand the Beatles' place in popular culture without taking it into account.

    I haven't listened to all the Beatles-related audiobooks on Audible. Of the ones I have listened to, the only one in the same league is the book by Bob Spitz - unfortunately only available here in abridged format. (The Hunter Davies account is on my list, but even though it has a 1996 update, it's mainly focused on the period ending in 1968.) Until someone offers Spitz unabridged, or Philip Norman's Shout!, or Hunter Davies writes a fuller account of the later years, this is the audiobook I would recommend to anyone wanting an introduction to the history of the band. Gould presents the story with admirable objectivity; it's obvious that the band, and the band's music, fascinate him; but he's willing to call baloney when he sees it, and some of the Beatles tracks, especially as he moves into the troubled territory of The White Album and the Let It Be sessions, come in for particularly harsh criticism. ("Shapeless" and "gormless" are two of the adjectives employed in Gould's discussion of one of the tracks on the White Album. "A parody of a travesty" is his verdict on another.)

    The only thing that could make the audiobook better, in my opinion, would be an edition that integrates the songs themselves into the narrative. But you can always do that on your own, like I did.

  • Mark Twain

    "A treat!"

    Overall

    This audiobook is a treat. It's actually three (short) books in one. The first is a five-hour biography, based on the Ken Burns documentary. The biography is well-researched, well-written, and well-narrated, and it's loaded with quotes, some of them extensive, from Twain and the people who knew him. Other biographies (like the one by Fred Kaplan) are more detailed, but this one covers all the main points in a concise and entertaining way. It doesn't shy away from the darker years, when many of Twain's loved ones had died and his attitude became more pessimistic and deterministic than ever.

    The second part is a collection of short essays and extracts by Twain, chosen to illustrate both his wit and his range. I'm not sure what the organizing principle is here, but it's fun to listen to.

    The third part is a collection of essays by some of the scholars who were interviewed for the documentary. They cover a broad range of topics, some biographical, some literary, some social: race, racism, and racist language are among the topics discussed in depth. One biographical essay is by Ron Powers, another Twain biographer who is himself represented elsewhere on Audible.com. This part also includes the transcript of an interview with Hal Holbrook, developer (and actor) of the one-man show "Mark Twain Tonight!". (Holbrook, at one point, remembers a quote from Twain that made me laugh out loud: "The problem isn't that there are so many fools in the world; the problem is that lightning isn't distributed right.") It's unfortunate that Audible doesn't carry Mark Twain Tonight! as a separate title (it IS available on iTunes, if you're interested).

    I love Mark Twain. I loved this audiobook. The first part lays the groundwork, the other two expand on it. Taken together, they introduce many sides of this many-sided prince among writers.

  • Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

    "Dry in places, but overall fascinating"

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    Like a lot of people my age, I grew up on Walt Disney; in my case, it went way past childhood. I got a lot of ribbing in high school because I continued to insist that he was a genius. I still think that, even though there is, undeniably, a saccharine quality to a lot of his work. Disney always considered himself more a "story man" than a master animator, and the grace and strength of the story structure in his best features is one of his most enduring monuments.

    Gabler's biography is a fascinating look at Disney's life and work - especially his work. The emphasis here in on the professional, and Gabler provides totally absorbing accounts of the studio's process in creating some of the great features of the 30s and 40s. Disney did go wrong at certain points in his career, some of it financial and some of it political, and the fact that he was able to oversee the creation of so many masterpieces in spite of these wrong turns is astonishing. In the 50s, with the advent of Disneyland and the weekly TV show, Disney began once again to hit his stride.

    When Disney is totally committed to what he's doing, Gabler is wonderful. When Disney is bored, Gabler becomes much less interesting. The biggest weakness in the book is the overly-detailed account of the financial dealings. It's an essential part of the story, but (as Gabler himself makes clear) it's not really what Disney was about.

    The book is a useful corrective to the only other biography of Disney I've read - "The Disney Version" by Richard Schickel. That was clearly hostile; Gabler takes a much more balanced and nuanced approach. While I understand from browsing the web that not everyone agrees with me, I get the sense from the book that Gabler actually likes Disney. The book isn't the celebration some would prefer, but neither is it an indictment. It's a portrait of a man who smoked too much and drank too much and never lost a yearning for the turn-of-the-century small town perfection he'd known as a child: a man with a brilliant vision of what animation could do and the ability to motivate others to join him in the pursuit of the insanely great.

    I enjoyed Arthur Morey's narration (as I always do). He maintains a steady, straightforward tone that matches the material.

  • The Beatles: The Biography

    "Reasonably complete"

    Overall

    A reasonably complete overview of the Beatles' joint career, with three basic flaws. The first is that it's abridged. The original book is far more detailed and far juicier, especially about the financial tangles that led to decades of ugly lawsuits. But the abridgement is at least coherent: it doesn't suddenly jump to Hamburg, for example, and leave you wondering how the Beatles got there.

    The other two flaws are in the original book as well. The first is a kind of patronizing tone: long past the point where all four Beatles are well into their twenties, the book repeatedly refers to them as "the boys": so cute, so in-crowd, so grating. The second is a rehash of tired, old anti-Yoko diatribes (and, to a lesser extent, anti-Linda diatribes as well). Enough already. Like Allen Klein himself once said: they're grown men, they know what they're doing.

    Taking those flaws into account, though, I would still recommend this to anyone interested in the Beatles. Alfred Molina does a great job narrating the book. He's low-key and unhurried, and, thankfully, never once tries to drop into a Scouse accent. (There aren't many decent books about the Beatles as a group: Philip Norman's book "Shout!" is the only one I can think of that comes close to having as broad a canvas as this one, and it's not available as an audiobook anyway.) As an introduction to Beatles lore, this one works well, it's pleasant to listen to, and with the basic shape of the story in mind, you can always go into more detail with one of the other titles.

Die Falknerin

Die Falknerin 11-24-12 Member Since 2008

Painter, musician, bibliophile...

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  • "Der Ring des Nibelung"

    4 of 4 helpful votes

    In this brief introduction Johnson takes us from the opening e-flat of the Das Rheingold to the consuming flames of Götterdämmerung. Discussions of staging, orchestration, plot development, mythic elements and more are interspersed with musical excerpts.

    Wagner designed the tetralogy to begin with the Vorabend, (a "preliminary evening") in which Das Rheingold is perfomed, followed by the succession of the operas Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. Johnson makes an admirable presentation of each part of the cycle without excessive digression.

    Of course, countless volumes have been devoted to the discussion of meaning, leitmotif, scoring, and all things Wagnerian, should one want to look deeper. But for a brief discussion of Ring essentials, look no further.

    These operas share a somewhat daunting reputation. Even opera fans have been known to quaver before Valhalla! But don't be one of them. Listen to this book, then jump right in. Some of the most beautiful music ever written awaits you.

    More

    Ring of the Nibelung: Opera Explained

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Stephen Johnson
    • Narrated By Stephen Johnson
    Overall
    (13)
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    (11)
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    (10)

    Wagner’s Ring cycle is the most ambitious work in the history of music: four operas that combine to tell a single epic story. Based in legend, it has become a legend in its own right: a supreme challenge for conductors, singers, opera producers, and indeed for audiences. But for all its grandeur and complexity, The Ring is far more accessible than many music lovers think.

    Die Falknerin says: "Der Ring des Nibelung"

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    Frodo and the Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. Now they continue their journey alone down the great River Anduin, alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.

    Catherine says: "third book of the series"
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    Even from the perspective of time, it is nearly impossible to grasp the full contribution made to music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in his brief and glorious life. He composed his first symphony at the age of 8 and reached full artistic maturity by the time he was only 20. And when he died at the age of 35, he left a legacy of more than 600 works of brilliance - symphonies, chamber music, operas, and more - most composed during an incredibly productive 20-year period.

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    The Symphonies of Beethoven  by The Great Courses Narrated by Professor Robert Greenberg

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    Nezar says: "A Great Course with a Great Caveat"
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    Almost from the moment it was first set to paper, the music of Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) - technically superb, rich in quality, and widely imitated - has exemplified the Classical style, creating not only the Classical-era symphony but setting the standard, through his own 68 string quartets, against which that form has ever after been judged. And yet Haydn, despite the influence left by more than 1000 works, seems to no longer get his due, Now, in a series of eight vivid lectures, you can learn to understand and appreciate the music of one of the most original and influential composers of all time.

    Russell Bernard says: "Wonderful & Inspiring"
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    The concerto offers a kind of unique excitement no other instrumental music can match. Where a symphony enthralls us with its thematic variations and development, a concerto gives us human drama-the exhilaration of a soloist or group of soloists ringing forth against the mass of the orchestra.In 24 musically rich lectures, Professor Greenberg provides a guided tour of the concerto, from its conception as a child of Renaissance ideals, through its maturation in the Classical age, its metamorphosis in the Romantic era, and its radical transformation in the 20th century and beyond.

    Victoria says: "Better than "How to Listen to...Great Music!""
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    In this musically rich 24-lecture series, Professor Greenberg guides you in a deep encounter with these majestic works of art, offering you the rare opportunity to grasp the musical riches and spiritual greatness of the quartets in a clear and accessible way. Each of these lectures is a rare and life-enriching opportunity to know the scope of Beethoven's genius, his most unforgettable music, and the profound humanity and beauty that live through them.

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    When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in 1791 at the age of just 35, he nonetheless left behind the defining composition in every available musical genre of his time: symphony, chamber music, masses, and above all - opera. Opera was the prestige genre of the era, and the thought of it, Mozart wrote, made him, "beside myself at once." It was a form he loved dearly, depending on it heavily for personal, professional, artistic, and financial reasons of the greatest weight.

    Doggy Bird says: "One of the best values on Audible!"
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    One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band

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    One Way Out is the powerful biography of the Allman Brothers Band, an oral history written with the band's participation and filled with original, never-before-published interviews as well as personal letters and correspondence. This is the most in-depth look at a legendary American rock band that has meant so much to so many for so long. For 25 years, Alan Paul has covered the Allman Brothers Band, conducting hundreds of interviews, riding the buses with them, attending rehearsals and countless shows.

    TIMOTHY says: "NOT GREAT, NOT BAD"
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    Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

    Tabitha says: "Love it!"
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    "I've experienced a whole lot the last few years and I have a lot to share. So I hope that you'll take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy the words I've put together for you in this book. I think you'll find I've left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I'm saying is, let us begin, shall we?" (Ellen DeGeneres)

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  • How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, 3rd Edition  by The Great Courses Narrated by Professor Robert Greenberg

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    Nineteen-year-old Greg Sestero met Tommy Wiseau at an acting school in San Francisco. Wiseau's scenes were rivetingly wrong, yet Sestero, hypnotized by such uninhibited acting, thought, "I have to do a scene with this guy." That impulse changed both of their lives. The Disaster Artist is Greg Sestero's laugh-out-loud funny account of how Tommy Wiseau defied every law of artistry, business, and friendship to make "the Citizen Kane of bad movies" (Entertainment Weekly), which is now an international phenomenon.

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    LB in Dallas says: "She has such a great voice! A great Listen."
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    Now at last Keith Richards pauses to tell his story in the most anticipated autobiography in decades. And what a story! Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records in a coldwater flat with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, building a sound and a band out of music they loved. Finding fame and success as a bad-boy band, only to find themselves challenged by authorities everywhere....

    Jesse says: "Ins and outs"
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    Week after week, SNL has produced unforgettable sketches and provocative political satire, adapting to changing times while staying true to its original vision of performing timely topical humor. With essays that address issues ranging from race and gender to authorship and comedic performance, Saturday Night Live and American TV follows the history of this 36-time Emmy-winning show and its place in the shifting social and media landscape of American television.

  • Performing Animal Welfare Society: Galt, California  by Patricia Lawrence, Star Decker Narrated by Patricia Lawrence

    Performing Animal Welfare Society: Galt, California

    • ORIGINAL (27 mins)
    • By Patricia Lawrence, Star Decker
    • Narrated By Patricia Lawrence
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    Since 1987 the Performing Animal Welfare Society has been providing a safe loving home to wild animals that have been abused in captivity. Star Decker is in Galt, California, exploring PAWS with co-founding director, the late Pat Derby.

  • The Guitar in America: Victorian Era to Jazz Age (






UNABRIDGED) by Jeffrey J. Noonan Narrated by Jack Chekijian

    The Guitar in America: Victorian Era to Jazz Age

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Jeffrey J. Noonan
    • Narrated By Jack Chekijian
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    This volume opens a new chapter on the guitar in America, considering its cultivated past and documenting how banjoists and mandolinists aligned their instruments to it in an effort to raise social and cultural standing. At the same time, the audiobook considers the BMG community within America's larger musical scene, examining its efforts as manifestations of this country's uneasy coupling of musical art and commerce.

  • Breve historia de la música (






UNABRIDGED) by Javier María López Narrated by Juan Manuel Martínez

    Breve historia de la música

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Javier María López
    • Narrated By Juan Manuel Martínez
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    La música es una manifestación artística presente en la totalidad de la historia. Desde el nacimiento de las primeras sociedades tribales hasta la actualidad, ha acompañado al hombre no sólo en los acontecimientos históricos más relevantes, sino en la vida cotidiana de los seres humanos. Es por esto que un acercamiento a la historia de la música es necesario para cualquier hombre, pero muchas veces los conceptos musicales pueden ser complejos o nuevos para el oyente.

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  • Maestro Mario: How Nintendo Transformed Videogame Music into an Art (






UNABRIDGED) by Andrew Schartmann Narrated by Kaleo Griffith

    Maestro Mario: How Nintendo Transformed Videogame Music into an Art

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Andrew Schartmann
    • Narrated By Kaleo Griffith
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    "Pa-dum-pum-pa-dum-pum - PUM!" Super Mario Bros. for the NES contains some of the most recognizable tunes in popular culture, and yet it’s safe to say that only a handful of people have thought beyond the music’s entertaining surface. After all, what could possibly be art-worthy about an early Mario score? Or any early game sound for that matter? In search of answers to these questions, Andrew Schartmann takes us on a journey from the primitive "pongs" of arcade machines to the complex musical fabrics woven by composers of the NES era.

  • Journey to Nerdopolis: Or How I Did San Diego Comic Con 2013 (






UNABRIDGED) by Colby Elliott Narrated by Colby Elliott

    Journey to Nerdopolis: Or How I Did San Diego Comic Con 2013

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 2 mins)
    • By Colby Elliott
    • Narrated By Colby Elliott
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    Did you ever want to attend the biggest popular arts festival in the United States? Come along on a 5-day odyssey of all things nerdy. Part travelogue, part love letter, Colby Elliott and his traveling companions give you a badge holder’s eye view of the amazing spectacle that is Comic Con. And find the answer to the question: Just how many miles do you actually walk when you’re at Nerdopolis?

  • Vanity Fair: August 2014 Issue  by Vanity Fair Narrated by Graydon Carter, various narrators

    Vanity Fair: August 2014 Issue

    • HIGHLIGHTS (3 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Vanity Fair
    • Narrated By Graydon Carter, various narrators
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    (1)
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    Vanity Fair is a cultural filter, sparking the global conversation about the people and ideas that matter most. With a dedication to journalistic excellence and powerful storytelling, Vanity Fair is the first choice - often the only choice - for the world's most influential and important audience. From print to social media, the big screen to the smartphone and now on audio, Vanity Fair is the arbiter of our era.

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