It is hard to beat a short biography, on an individual of great historical interest, someone who shaped the media as we experience it today, read by the author, and the author is a radio personality himself. That is the package we have with "Edward R Murrow ..." This audio book is a breezy biography, not an in-depth review of Murrow & his times, but neither does it drift downwards into the superficiality that is often found in books of this category. I completed the book knowing quite a bit more about Murrow & about his importance & his influence & his struggles. And I completed it wanting to know more about him. There are a number of good, lengthy biographies of Murrow & I plan to sample at least one of them. Now, this book does not get the full complement of 5 stars for two reasons. The first is my feeling, perhaps unfair, that the author could & should have written a book that was 50% or 100% longer, because this one simply does not satisfy sufficiently. It is good for the length it is, read well, well organized & so forth. The second is that at the very end it descends into a sort of fawning rhapsody, just the last 10-15 minutes, that was irritating. Nevertheless, given the subject matter, momentum & outstanding narration, I recommend the audio book very highly.
This is a very good work of narrative, popular history. It reminds you that, not so long ago, in the lives of our grandparents and great-grandparents, the reign of kings, kings with real power. That was certainly the case for the kings of Germany (only so recently combined into a nation-state) and of Russia, much less so for Britain ... even still their Queen Victoria & her two successors had more apparent power than the current regime, if only on the diplomatic level, with their relatives elsewhere in Europe. The details of the lives of these various heads-of-state, their international networks and the political leadership, is a great story. I am not sure you can say the 3 leaders on the eve of World War I, together, had a great influence on the breakout and course of war, although the author does a great job showing that Kaiser Wilhelm (an extraordinarily peculiar person) did have a role in this.
The book is well organized, it does not have too many characters (although I am familiar with the general history) and is well narrated.
This book by Lynne Olson recovers some history that is not well-known to Americans, specifically the way in which a few key figures from the US, in the UK during the late-1930s & early-1940s, were instrumental in getting the US (rightfully) into rightfully into World War II. Contrary to the way in which we read this history today, this was a close-run thing, not obvious (especially during the ambassadorship of Joe Kennedy) to US leaders nor UK leaders that a true military collaboration would come to pass in the dark days of 1939 & 1940, when "England stood alone." It is well-worth getting this book if you are interested in the real history of this period or in WWII history.
I have dinged it slightly, 4 stars rather than 5, because the latter half of the book contains familiar material if you are familiar with the period after the US buildup, or of the complicated relationship between FDR, Churchill, DeGaulle & Stalin. And because Lynne Olson's previous book, "Troublesome Young Men - The Rebels who brought Churchill to Power ..." was so much better, more focused, than this one. Hopefully Audible will try to get that book in audio too.