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John M

John M Lafayette, CA USA Member Since 2007
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  • "Brilliant! Only Churchill could hav..."

    Overall

    What a gift Winston Churchill has given his and future generations. This is an absolutely unique perspective on World War II. Not only was Churchill in the middle of all major decisions made in Great Britain during the war (and was aware of most of the pre-war decisions), he also has a keen sense of history and perspective that only a few historians possess. He also has a mastery of the English language and a sublime wit that brings this already compelling story to life.

    As far as this volume (1 of 3 published, 1 to go - hopefully) it is absolutely remarkable the sheer number of opportunities there were to prevent/delay this conflict that were missed or explicitly ignored. In the beginning of this volume, Churchill declares WWII should have been named "The Unnecessary War" and it is hard to argue with his thesis. But his insight into this entire process is terrific. I highly recommend this set of books for anyone interested in the War or a remarkable view into a great leader in a trying time.

    Finally, just a quick note on abridgment. It is true this is an unabridged audio book of the first of four volumes, but the four volumes are a textual abridgment of Churchill's original set of six volumes (but at least Churchill was apparently the one who did that abridgement). I have the original set of six and I am able to follow along with the audiobook. I end up reading the sections that were left out in the evenings and to me they are very interesting. Those sections left out are insightful and do add to the overall tapestry of the story.

    It does not make this version any less worthwhile, though. As others have noted, the narrator sounds like Churchill (or at least like I imagine Churchill would sound like) which adds to the overall experience.

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    The Second World War: Milestones to Disaster

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Sir Winston Churchill
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    Overall
    (1197)
    Performance
    (628)
    Story
    (625)

    Churchill's history of the Second World War is, and will remain, the definitive work. Lucid, dramatic, remarkable for its breadth and sweep and for its sense of personal involvement, it is universally acknowledged as a magnificent reconstruction.

    John M says: "Brilliant! Only Churchill could have done this."
  • "Spellbinding!"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thoroughly loved this book. I don't normally seek out these "true-life adventures" but the other reviews were so positive that I decided to give it a try. It was absolutely tremendous. It was so unbelievable that no one would even think of putting half of the things that happened into a novel. I literally spent every night during the time period I was listening to this book reflecting about the trials and tribulations of the men of the Endurance and wondering how I would do in similar circumstances. It was a profoundly emotional experience with this book.

    The writing is quite good and the narrator keeps the story moving along while keeping the "you are there" sense of the book.

    I highly recommend this book.

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    Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Alfred Lansing
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1662)
    Performance
    (1044)
    Story
    (1047)

    In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

    Thomas says: "The best book I've had"
  • "My favorite Great Courses lecture"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have listened to dozens of "courses" from the Teaching Company over the years and this is one of the best. It was done a while ago but it still very worthwhile. What a treat to be able to listen to it via Audible. Professor Childers is an excellent lecturer and great storyteller who has an infectious enthusiasm for his subject. It is titled "a Military and Social History" but know if that it is about 80% military and 20% social. I wish there would have been more social or political context but I wouldn't have traded any of the military side - they should have just added additional lectures and I would have been quite happy.

    Prof. Childers does a remarkable job telling the story of this literally global catastrophe that is very easy to follow. It is hard to imagine a traditional book brought to audio that could accomplish the same feat.

    This was my first teaching company lecture series I ever listened to (over 10 years ago) and at that time I had only a cursory understanding of WWII. In the intervening years I have been an enthusiastic student of all things WWII and have read at least 15 books on various aspects of the conflict and visited numerous sites/monuments. So I can honestly say the lecture will be equally enjoyable whether you are new to the subject or you are familiar with it. Prepare for time well spent.

    More

    World War II: A Military and Social History

    • ORIGINAL (15 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Thomas Childers
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (24)

    Between 1937 and 1945, approximately 55 million people perished in the series of interrelated conflicts known as the Second World War. No continent was left untouched, no ocean unaffected. The war led to the eclipse of Europe and the emergence of the United States and the Soviet Union as global superpowers; ushered in the atomic age; produced, in the Holocaust, the most horrific crime ever committed in the history of Western civilization, and led to the end of Europe's colonial empires around the world.

    John M says: "My favorite Great Courses lecture"
  1. The Second World War: Mil...
  2. Endurance: Shackleton's I...
  3. World War II: A Military ...
  4. .

A Peek at Douglas's Bookshelf

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Auburn, WA, United States 261 REVIEWS / 373 ratings Member Since 2008 167 Followers / Following 32
 
Douglas's greatest hits:
  • Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath

    "Fantastic!"

    Overall

    This is what every history book should be and must be praised for several reasons. To begin, it brings to light an often neglected horror of WWII: The Death March On Baatan. Like Iris Chang's book, The Rape Of Nanking, the Normans give us the lives and sufferings of people who should never be left in the shadows of historical narrative. Secondly, this is a hugely well-written book! This obviously deeply-researched volume absolutely brings this story to life. I have gone through it like I did James Stewart's MANHUNT: THE TWELVE DAY SEARCH FOR LINCOLN'S KILLER, and for the same reason. Both tell history through the eyes and stories of those who lived it in incredible detail with rich, poetic touches. This is a must read!!!

  • The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII

    "I Don't Understand The Complaints..."

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    leveled at this brilliant narrative concerning unnecessary length and lack of structure. As to the first, I wanted more, not less! I found the book remarkably compelling. As to the second, a stirring and intriguing story should not read like a sixth grade history book, but rather something like a novel. El-Hai accomplishes this wonderfully well here, weaving in and out of plot-lines, developing characters richly and fully along the way. This historical narrative is not nearly so much about Goering--or Kelley--as it is about those incredible accidental meetings of personalities and circumstances at the most telling times in history and how much of what becomes cultural consciousness is developed in dark rooms under conditions and by people of which most remain forever unaware. El-Hai's book is a mystery and suspense tale, told as though Poe or Hawthorne had penned an historical drama. It comes highly recommended from these quarters, especially for anyone who prefers a literary turn put to what would otherwise be dry classroom facts.

  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich

    "A Message That Needs To Be Heard"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read most of Bonhoffer's work and many, many biographies, and this stands as the best and most comprehensive. Metaxas does a wonderful job of placing Bonhoeffer in his times, showing the many sides of him usually left out or lightly sketched in other books about the great Christian martyr. In the end, the life of Bonhoeffer, so well rendered here, stands as a clarion call to all of us to rise up in our lives and live our faith all the way out. Metaxas' rendering of this great life is a must read.

  • Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

    "As Someone Who Has Read Much..."

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    concerning WWII, the Nazi regime and the horrors of the Holocaust, I can honestly state that Wendy Lower uncovers perhaps the most neglected aspect of Hitler's reign of terror: the role of women. Sure, if one is widely read, the names Irma Grese and Ilsa Koch will have been encountered a time or two, but if you took nearly all of the histories of Nazi Germany to date, you might think that it had been almost entirely a male project. Lower points out very adroitly that this is truly a narrow view of what amounted to a cultural revolution---and that the culture in question was half female. As with literature on psychopaths, so with Nazi Germany: namely, that the evils of women have lain under the cover of more outwardly acting males, allowing, of course, the evil side of femininity to course through history almost unnoticed--and unchecked. Now, given another review, I must note that this is an academic work, and not chucked full of sexy gore, so if "meaty bits" are more your style, perhaps the film Ilsa, She-Wolf Of The SS might be more to your liking. But if you want a clear and intelligent investigation of a grossly underinvestigated aspect of WWII, this is the book for you. (I read this book on the heels of Jack El-Hai's The Nazi And The Psychiatrist and Thomas Harding's Hanns And Rudolph, and I recommend that they be taken along with this book.)

Charles Fred Smith

Charles Fred Smith Plano, Texas 08-11-10 Member Since 2006
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  • "World War I from a German Viewpoint"

    17 of 17 helpful votes

    Junger's excellent diary of four years' war is put down in highly descriptive prose. He never looses sight of the beauties of nature in a time of horror. The comparison with the descriptions of the same tragedy by Graves and Sassoon will not escape the reader. Junger's unflinching love and support of the Motherland shows through until the end. It is easy to compare the values of the three writers under similar conditions. Junger was in constant combat for four years and served in most of the major battles of the Western Front. He was wounded seven times and received the "Pour le Merit" (Blue Max) for his service. The only fault I found with this great book is that he makes it somewhat difficult to relate his descriptions of war in a limited area to the overall engagement. This is the view from the trench as he watched it unfold and is a classic work of military literature.

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    The Storm of Steel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Ernst Jünger
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (117)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (79)

    This classic war memoir, first published in 1920, is based on the author's extensive diaries describing hard combat experienced on the Western Front during World War I. It has been greatly admired by people as diverse as Bertolt Brecht and Andre Gide, and from every part of the political spectrum. Hypnotic, thrilling, and magnificent, The Storm of Steel is perhaps the most fascinating description of modern warfare ever written.

    Charles Fred Smith says: "World War I from a German Viewpoint"

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    Thomas says: "The best book I've had"
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    The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

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    Daniel James Brown's robust book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

    Benoibe says: "Best book of the year!"
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    In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.

    Paul Bennett says: "Fine book, adequate narration"
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    Mark says: "Why 1927?"
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (






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    The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

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    At one time, Corrie ten Boom would have laughed at the idea that she had a story to tell. For the first 50 years of her life, nothing out of the ordinary ever happened to her. She was a spinster watchmaker living contentedly with her sister and their elderly father in the tiny house over their shop in Haarlem. Their uneventful days, as regulated as their own watches, revolved around their abiding love for one another. But with the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland, everything changed....

    Christina says: "My new guilty pleasure"
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    Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot

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    Kristina says: "MUST READ/LISTEN"
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    A definitive, deeply moving narrative, Bonhoeffer is a story of moral courage in the face of the monstrous evil that was Nazism. After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Führer and was hanged in Flossenbürg concentration camp at age thirty-nine. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the twentieth century.

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    In this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, historian Barbara Tuchman brings to life the people and events that led up to World War I. This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war. How quickly it all changed...and how horrible it became.

    Mike From Mesa says: "Wonderful"
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UNABRIDGED) by Gregg Jones Narrated by William Hughes

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UNABRIDGED) by Adam Makos Narrated by Robertson Dean

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    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
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    Four days before Christmas in 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a 21-year-old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenly a sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail - a German Messerschmitt fighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the American bomber with the squeeze of a trigger.

    JerryL says: "An Absolutely Incredcredible Audiobook!"
  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage (






UNABRIDGED) by Alfred Lansing Narrated by Simon Prebble

    Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Alfred Lansing
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1662)
    Performance
    (1044)
    Story
    (1047)

    In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

    Thomas says: "The best book I've had"
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UNABRIDGED) by Erik Larson Narrated by Stephen Hoye

    In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Erik Larson
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    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2131)
    Performance
    (1529)
    Story
    (1526)

    The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another....

    Chris says: "Frightening, Powerful, Deeply Thought-provoking."
  • Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance (






UNABRIDGED) by Carla Kaplan Narrated by Liisa Ivary

    Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Carla Kaplan
    • Narrated By Liisa Ivary
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    New York City in the Jazz Age was host to a pulsating artistic and social revolution. Uptown, an unprecedented explosion in black music, literature, dance, and art sparked the Harlem Renaissance. While the history of this African-American awakening has been widely explored, one chapter remains untold: The story of a group of women collectively dubbed “Miss Anne.” Kaplan’s formidable work remaps the landscape of the 1920s, and alters our perception of this historical moment.

  • Red Dusk and the Morrow: Adventures & Investigations in Soviet Russia (






UNABRIDGED) by Paul Dukes Narrated by Peter Owen

    Red Dusk and the Morrow: Adventures & Investigations in Soviet Russia

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Paul Dukes
    • Narrated By Peter Owen
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    Paul Dukes was sent into Russia in 1918, shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, by ‘C’ (the mysterious head of the British secret service). His mission: to pull together the British spy networks operating against the new regime. With its spies and diplomats thrown out at the start of the Red Terror, Britain’s espionage efforts were left to a British businessman with no previous experience as a spy. Dukes operated under a variety of covers, the most daring of which was as a member of the Cheka secret police.

  • The Rise of the National Basketball Association (






UNABRIDGED) by David George Surdam Narrated by Todd Barsness

    The Rise of the National Basketball Association

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By David George Surdam
    • Narrated By Todd Barsness
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    Today's National Basketball Association commands millions of spectators worldwide, and its many franchises are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But the league wasn't always so successful or glamorous: in the 1940s and 1950s, the NBA and its predecessor, the Basketball Association of America, were scrambling to attract fans. Teams frequently played in dingy gymnasiums, players traveled as best they could, and their paychecks could bounce higher than a basketball.

  • Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town (






UNABRIDGED) by Ellen Griffith Spears Narrated by Bernadette Dunne

    Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Ellen Griffith Spears
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
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    In the mid-1990s, residents of Anniston, Alabama, began a legal fight against the agrochemical company Monsanto over the dumping of PCBs in the city's historically African American and white working-class west side. Simultaneously, Anniston environmentalists sought to safely eliminate chemical weaponry that had been secretly stockpiled near the city during the Cold War. In this probing work, Ellen Griffith Spears offers a compelling narrative of Anniston's battles for environmental justice.

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  • First World War: Still No End in Sight (






UNABRIDGED) by Frank Furedi Narrated by Greg Wagland

    First World War: Still No End in Sight

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Frank Furedi
    • Narrated By Greg Wagland
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    That the conflicts unleashed by Great War did not end in 1918 is well known. World War II and the Cold War clearly constitute key moments in the drama that began in August 1914. This audiobook argues that the battle of ideas which crystallised during the course of the Great War continue to the present. It claims that the disputes about lifestyles and identity - the Culture Wars of today - are only the latest expressions of a century long conflict. There are many influences that contributed to the outbreak of World War One.

  • Last Stand at Khe Sanh: The US Marines’ Finest Hour in Vietnam (






UNABRIDGED) by Gregg Jones Narrated by William Hughes

    Last Stand at Khe Sanh: The US Marines’ Finest Hour in Vietnam

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Gregg Jones
    • Narrated By William Hughes
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    The vivid, fast-paced account of the siege of Khe Sanh told through the eyes of the men who lived it. For seventy-seven days in 1968, amid fears that America faced its own disastrous Dien Bien Phu, six thousand US Marines held off thirty thousand North Vietnamese Army regulars at the remote mountain stronghold called Khe Sanh. It was the biggest battle of the Vietnam War, with sharp ground engagements, devastating artillery duels, and massive US air strikes.

  • Murders In The United States: Crimes, Killers And Victims Of The Twentieth Century (






UNABRIDGED) by R. Barri Flowers, H. Loraine Flowers Narrated by Dave Wright

    Murders In The United States: Crimes, Killers And Victims Of The Twentieth Century

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By R. Barri Flowers, H. Loraine Flowers
    • Narrated By Dave Wright
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    From the assassination of President William McKinley on September 6, 1901, to the mass killing at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, the 20th century saw many murderous events that are difficult to contemplate but have become a part of the national history. This reference book is divided into three parts. Part One, arranged chronologically, details 53 of the most famous murder cases of the 20th century in the United States.

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