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World

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Ethan M.

Ethan M. Cambridge, MA Member Since 2000

On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through

HELPFUL VOTES
1650
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136
86
FOLLOWERS
FOLLOWING
632
13
  • "Excellent, if unfocused"

    Overall

    This is a well-done, well-read science book that uses the periodic table as an excuse to wander off into various scientific tangents and stories. Think Bill Bryson or James Burke or similar sorts of scientific and historical storytelling. Many of these stories are really interesting (such as the tale of the boy scout who built his own nuclear reactor in a shed), and there is enough variety to keep anyone interested. I also need to applaud Mr. Kean for sticking very closely to the science, he is careful not to exaggerate where other writers might, and he is quick to call out "pathological science" when he sees it.

    The real weakness of this book is that it plays very fast and loose with its premise. It uses the table as an excuse for stories, not as a prime motivator. Once Mr. Kean is done with Mendelev and related stories central to the discovery of new elements, he happily goes on to cover subjects like bubbles, international standards for the kilogram, and other topics; often making some sort of tenuous connection (see, the kilogram was made of iridium!) This is not a flaw in the stories, however, and the book remains interesting throughout. A great science read.

    More

    The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (2071)
    Performance
    (1289)
    Story
    (1294)

    Reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    Ethan M. says: "Excellent, if unfocused"
  • "A mostly successful and interesting..."

    Overall

    This book was written in the earliest days of the current financial crisis, and completed sometime around May, 2008. As a result, it is both quite prescient about the causes of the current unraveling of the world financial system, and a bit out-of-date as so much has changed in the months since the book was published. If you are looking for something to explain the way that the current financial system was developed for the past three hundred years, and how the roots of the current crash go back deep into the history of finance, this book is an excellent and entertaining guide. It will introduce you to everything from the causes of the 1980s S&L scandals to the birth of investment banks to the inflationary pressures caused by the Spanish conquest of the New World, and demonstrate how these concepts are related to the current financial system. You will learn that crashes have always happened, and likely always will, so the book succeeds well as current commentary.

    It is somewhat less successful as history of money, however, since the sections of the book, each named after a different type of financial instrument from insurance to bonds, are not really detailed histories of each topic, but rather a series of vignettes that illuminate a concept in the development of a particular financial instrument. The book focuses on the Rothschild family to explain the history of banking, the rise of Pinochet to explain the role of free markets, and so on. These stories are interesting and important, but they make the book feel more disjointed than a typical linear history. Similarly, the level of detail of the book fluctuates between fairly popular descriptions and very detailed statistics.

    Overall, if you are either motivated to learn about the financial system, or you have a general interest in financial history, this is a wonderful book. Those who are less interested in the details, or who expect a complete account of the ascent of money, may be less impressed.

    More

    The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1648)
    Performance
    (735)
    Story
    (728)

    Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labor. Niall Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress.

    Ethan M. says: "A mostly successful and interesting history"
  • "Very compelling history, a less com..."

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Swerve is a Pultizer-prize winner, and justifiably so. In a compact way, it manages to tell fascinating, well-researched, stories of both the Epicurean philosophers during the Roman Empire, and the intellectual and religious struggles of the late Middle Ages. These two threads are both really well done, and full of fascinating and illuminating details: monks were not allowed to discuss the books they copied, Epicurus presaged our modern understanding of atoms and evolution, the Papal secretary wrote a joke book, and so on. Greenblatt just does a wonderful job in illuminating these time periods, and how they relate to our own way of thinking. Similarly, the reader is excellent, and the many languages invoked in the book flow naturally from him.

    The only downside, and it is a small one, is in the argument itself, that the discovery of the poem "On the Nature of Things" was a critical event in that led to the world becoming modern. I was convinced that the rediscovery of Lucretius was certainly one of the elements that led to the "swerve" and the Renaissance, but there are already other forces at work, many alluded to in the book, that play at least as big a role. However, Greenblatt really wants to make the poem central, though, so we get a somewhat more evasive account of other factors, such as the popularity of humanism, that were also important. As a result, the book becomes a little strained in its main argument, but it doesn't detract from a wonderful historical account. Greenblatt uses all of his considerable ability to make his argument, one that you may or may not buy, but that you are certain to enjoy if you like Medieval, Roman, or intellectual history.

    More

    The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Stephen Greenblatt
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (849)
    Performance
    (727)
    Story
    (723)

    Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late 30s took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic by Lucretius—a beautiful poem containing the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles.

    Ethan M. says: "Very compelling history, a less compelling thesis"
  1. The Disappearing Spoon: A...
  2. The Ascent of Money: A Fi...
  3. The Swerve: How the World...
  4. .

Simone

Simone St Laurent, Quebec, Canada 02-10-13 Member Since 2006

Join me on GoodReads too!

HELPFUL VOTES
332
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REVIEWS
411
277
FOLLOWERS
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50
5
  • "Titanic: Always Interesting"

    5 of 5 helpful votes

    If you’ve read as many books and seen as many documentaries about Titanic as I have, you’ll willingly add this book to your list.

    It’s like a little collection of biographies of people whom you already know a little about. Having seen movies and TV series and documentaries, you’ll recognize most names and already have an understanding of how the main characters relate to one another. This book fleshes that out in more detail by providing additional background information and interesting facts about the key players’ lives.

    Survivor’s recollections of the sinking itself were compelling, as well as the long cold wait for rescue. (Wouldn’t that make an interesting movie? A couple whose vacation plans are interrupted when their boat (The Carpathia) alters course to rescue Titanic survivors…).

    I was not expecting to learn anything new, but I did! Not just trivia like how many napkins and nutcrackers and wine bottles were on board the Titanic (LOTS) but about how so many passengers were bound for Canada for example, and what their plans would have been had they survived the sinking.

    The book also includes a lot of details of the days in New York just after the sinking; I found this the most interesting of all because this part of history is often overlooked. Attention is usually always focused on the boat, very little to the people left behind. I had no idea there were so many imposter-grievers! People pretending they lost loved ones in the sinking!!

    The “what ever happened to” section at the end where we learn the long term fate of survivors is poignant (although a little ghoulish) because it exposes how an experience like this can impact a person deeply for life.

    It was a great read – I highly recommend it.

    More

    Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Richard Davenport-Hines
    • Narrated By Robin Sachs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (80)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (71)

    Late in the night of April 14, 1912, the mighty Titanic, a passenger liner traveling from Southampton, England, to New York City, struck an iceberg four hundred miles south of Newfoundland. Its sinking over the next two and a half hours brought the ship—mythological in name and size—100 years of infamy.

    Tad Davis says: "Thorough, panoramic"

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    The Nazis discovered it. The Allies won the war with it. It conquered diseases, changed laws, and single-handedly launched the era of antibiotics. This incredible discovery was sulfa, the first antibiotic medication. In The Demon Under the Microscope, Thomas Hager chronicles the dramatic history of the drug that shaped modern medicine.

    John Mertus says: "A pleasure in listening"
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    • By Sir Winston Churchill
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    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."
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    • By Lawrence Wright
    • Narrated By Alan Sklar
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    Overall
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    This is a sweeping narrative history of the events leading to 9/11, a groundbreaking look at the people and ideas, the terrorist plans, and the Western intelligence failures that culminated in the assault on America. Lawrence Wright's remarkable book is based on five years of research and hundreds of interviews that he conducted in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, England, France, Germany, Spain, and the United States.

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UNABRIDGED) by Adam Makos Narrated by Robertson Dean

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    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Adam Makos
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
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    • By Winston Churchill
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
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UNABRIDGED) by Winston Churchill Narrated by Christian Rodska

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    • By Winston Churchill
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
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    (618)
    Performance
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    Story
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    The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Francis Fukuyama
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (263)
    Performance
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    Story
    (215)

    Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today’s developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.

    Henderson says: "Best Summary of Political History I've Read"
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    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Thomas Hager
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1542)
    Performance
    (853)
    Story
    (848)

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UNABRIDGED) by Bill Bryson Narrated by Richard Matthews

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    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Richard Matthews
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    The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945

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    • By John Toland
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
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UNABRIDGED) by Barbara W. Tuchman Narrated by Nadia May

    The Guns of August

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Barbara W. Tuchman
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
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    Performance
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UNABRIDGED) by Jared Diamond Narrated by Doug Ordunio

    Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Jared Diamond
    • Narrated By Doug Ordunio
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    Doug says: "Compelling pre-history and emergent history"
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UNABRIDGED) by G. J. Meyer Narrated by Robin Sachs

    A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By G. J. Meyer
    • Narrated By Robin Sachs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
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    Performance
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    Story
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    The First World War is one of history’s greatest tragedies. In this remarkable and intimate account, author G. J. Meyer draws on exhaustive research to bring to life the story of how the Great War reduced Europe’s mightiest empires to rubble, killed 20 million people, and cracked the foundations of the world we live in today. World War I is unique in the number of questions about it that remain unsettled. After more than 90 years, scholars remain divided on these questions, and it seems likely that they always will.

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  • Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East (






UNABRIDGED) by Scott Anderson Narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner

    Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Scott Anderson
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (262)
    Performance
    (223)
    Story
    (222)

    Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabiadefinitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present.

    Charles Fred Smith says: "The "Real" Story"
  •  
  • My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel (






UNABRIDGED) by Ari Shavit Narrated by Paul Boehmer

    My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Ari Shavit
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (179)
    Performance
    (164)
    Story
    (162)

    Not since Thomas L. Friedman's groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family's story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts.

    Jan Ziff says: "Great book - unbearable narration"
  • The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 (






UNABRIDGED) by Margaret MacMillan Narrated by Richard Burnip

    The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Margaret MacMillan
    • Narrated By Richard Burnip
    Overall
    (175)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (163)

    From the best-selling and award-winning author of Paris 1919 comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, a fascinating portrait of Europe from 1900 up to the outbreak of World War I.

    Jean says: "A different viewpoint"
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (






UNABRIDGED) by Jack Weatherford Narrated by Jonathan Davis, Jack Weatherford

    Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Jack Weatherford
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Jack Weatherford
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3574)
    Performance
    (2178)
    Story
    (2198)

    The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in 25 years than the Romans did in 400. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization.

    Peter says: "Brilliant, insightful, intriguing."
  • Mythology (






UNABRIDGED) by Edith Hamilton Narrated by Suzanne Toren

    Mythology

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Edith Hamilton
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (70)

    Since its original publication by Little, Brown and Company, in 1942, Edith Hamilton's Mythology has sold millions of copies throughout the world and established itself as a perennial best-seller in its various available formats. Mythology succeeds like no other audiobook in bringing to life for the modern listener the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths and legends that are the keystone of Western culture - the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present.

    Kathi says: "Good reading of classical myths"
  • Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses (






UNABRIDGED) by Helen Rappaport Narrated by Karen Cass

    Four Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Helen Rappaport
    • Narrated By Karen Cass
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Award-winning and critically acclaimed historian Helen Rappaport turns to the tragic story of the daughters of the last Tsar of all the Russias, slaughtered with their parents at Ekaterinburg. On 17 July 1918, four young women walked down 23 steps into the cellar of a house in Ekaterinburg. The eldest was 22, the youngest only 17. Together with their parents and their 13-year-old brother, they were all brutally murdered. Their crime: to be the daughters of the last Tsar and Tsaritsa of All the Russias.

  • The Rise and Fall of Intelligence: An International Security History (






UNABRIDGED) by Michael Warner Narrated by Robert J. Eckrich

    The Rise and Fall of Intelligence: An International Security History

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Michael Warner
    • Narrated By Robert J. Eckrich
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
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    Historian Michael Warner addresses the birth of professional intelligence in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and the subsequent rise of US intelligence during the Cold War. He brings this history up to the present day as intelligence agencies used the struggle against terrorism and the digital revolution to improve capabilities in the 2000s.

  • A Book of Five Rings: The Strategy of Musashi (






UNABRIDGED) by Miyamoto Musashi Narrated by Alan Munro

    A Book of Five Rings: The Strategy of Musashi

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Miyamoto Musashi
    • Narrated By Alan Munro
    Overall
    (0)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    This special edition of A Book of Five Rings contains one hour of traditional Japanese flute (shakuhachi) and 43 minutes of music by traditional japanese ensemble. The music appears track by track at the end of the two and a half hour audiobook and is included as wonderful compliment to this dynamic and elegant listening experience. Legendary 17th-century swordsman Miyamoto Musashi’s exposition of sword fighting, strategy, and Zen philosophy.

  • The Last Voyage of Colombus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition (






UNABRIDGED) by Martin Dugard Narrated by John McDonough

    The Last Voyage of Colombus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Martin Dugard
    • Narrated By John McDonough
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    New York Times best-selling author Martin Dugard writes the first account of Columbus’s little-known last voyage. Columbus’ famed 1492 expedition wasn’t his last. After tough times, he was given one more chance. But this voyage didn’t have the fortuitous accidents of 1492. Instead it brought a shipwreck and more violence and mutiny than ever before - pushing an aging explorer to his limit.

  •  
  • Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them (






UNABRIDGED) by John McCain, Mark Salter Narrated by George Wilson

    Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By John McCain, Mark Salter
    • Narrated By George Wilson
    Overall
    (0)
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    (0)
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    In this insightful study, John McCain and Mark Salter examine the qualities that define great decisions. They also identify inspiring people who have engaged in difficult decision-making. Ranging from the political judgments made by Abraham Lincoln to the athletic trials faced by swimmer Gertrude Ederle, each chapter of Hard Call illustrates an exceptional choice made in challenging circumstances.

  • The Great Retreat of 1914: From Mons to the Marne (






UNABRIDGED) by Spencer Jones Narrated by Philip Franks

    The Great Retreat of 1914: From Mons to the Marne

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Spencer Jones
    • Narrated By Philip Franks
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    August 1914: In the sweltering heat, the fate of Europe hangs in the balance. Germany is hurling her forces into a carefully planned invasion of Belgium and France. Bound by an 1839 treaty to protect Belgium from any invader, Britain came to its defence. With the British Expeditionary Force numbering just 120,000 men, and dwarfed by the vast manpower of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II remains unfazed by this ‘contemptible little army'. But the BEF was, man for man, the best trained army in Europe.

  • Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story…and Why It Matters Today (






UNABRIDGED) by Edouard Kayihura, Kerry Zukus Narrated by Mirron Willis, Rosalind Ashford

    Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story…and Why It Matters Today

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Edouard Kayihura, Kerry Zukus
    • Narrated By Mirron Willis, Rosalind Ashford
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    For the first time, learn what really happened inside the walls of Hotel des Mille Collines. In Inside the Hotel Rwanda, survivor Edouard Kayihura tells his own personal story of what life was really like during those harrowing days within the walls of that infamous hotel and offers the testimonies of others who survived there, from Hutu and Tutsi to UN peacekeepers. Kayihura writes of a divided society and his journey to the place he believed would be safe from slaughter.

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