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Tad Davis

Tad Davis Philadelphia, PA USA Member Since 2005
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  • "Brilliant detail, exciting story"

    Overall

    This narrative came as a complete surprise; I had no idea the Mediterranean Sea was a major war zone in the 16th century; no idea, either, that citizens of both Europe and the Ottoman Empire were enslaved on such a scale by the "corsairs" of the opposing sides. Crowley tells the story as if it were recent history, extracting a full measure of excitement and suspense out of each incident. Narrated by the irrepressible John Lee. The only problem is that, as with other works on similar topics, the unfamiliar names -- unfamiliar to me, at any rate -- are hard to grasp without a printed text alongside. Wikipedia helps a bit. A map of Malta, especially of the Grand Harbor, is essential.

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    Empires of the Sea: The Contest for the Center of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Roger Crowley
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (342)
    Performance
    (161)
    Story
    (161)

    Empires of the Sea tells the story of the 50-year world war between Islam and Christianity for the Mediterranean: one of the fiercest and most influential contests in European history. It traces events from the appearance on the world stage of Suleiman the Magnificent through "the years of devastation" when it seemed possible that Islam might master the whole sea, to the final brief flourishing of a united Christendom in 1571.

    Tad Davis says: "Brilliant detail, exciting story"
  • "Thorough, panoramic"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Voyagers of the Titanic," as its title implies, focuses on the people rather than the technical aspects of the wreck. Davenport-Hines organizes the stories into groups: among them the shipbuilders, the ship's officers, and the first, second, and third class passengers. I was particularly pleased to see so much attention being given to second class, which was given short shrift in the movie "Titanic" and in many other accounts of the disaster.

    Up to the point where the iceberg strikes, each chapter is filled with interlocking mini-biographies of the people involved. The narrative is organized loosely in a kind of "six degrees of separation" style: branching out through the passenger list and giving a vivid sense not only of the people but of the world they inhabited.

    The author reaps the benefits of this careful preparation in his narration of the disaster itself. These are not random people who show up on the boat deck: they're people we've met, spent some time with, come to have some opinions about. Davenport-Hines recounts the story of the wreck, the lifeboats, the rescue, the dissemination of the news: it's all familiar ground to Titanic buffs, but given here with superlative organization and a host of fresh details.

    Anyone who's read more than one book about the Titanic knows how vastly different perceptions can be. Davenport-Hines takes a dim view of Senator William Smith's US Senate inquiry into the disaster, accusing Smith of "grating stupidity" and the hearings as "raucous scapegoating." Smith, of course, was virtually the hero of Wyn Craig Wade's book, "The Titanic: Disaster of the Century."

    I don't think I would recommend this to someone as the first book to read on the subject - that would still have to be Walter Lord's classic - but it's a compelling listen, a very thorough account of the subject, and it should definitely be the second or third book on your Titanic list.

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    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
    (84)
    Performance
    (75)
    Story
    (73)

    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"
  • "Great story, with a lot of unfamili..."

    Overall

    This is a great story -- as the cover of the book says, it's the 2500-year history of conflict between East and West. The geographical locations are actually a bit more specific than that: the East is the Middle East (the Persian Empire, the the Safavid Empire, the Ottoman Empire); the West is mostly Western Europe (Greece, Rome, Spain, France, Germany). The history is partly political and military, and partly intellectual: all the great battles are here, but considerable space is also given, for example, to the ideas about "Orientalism" that spread through Europe in the 18th century. The narrative moves rapidly and includes a rich amount of surprising detail.

    Then there are the names. One of the strengths of the book is also one of its weaknesses, at least as an audiobook. I've read a lot of world history, but even so I found the book loaded with unfamiliar names, many of them Arabic, French, or Spanish (a good thing, since I was hoping to learn something new); and I found it difficult at times, with John Lee's very posh and precise pronunciation, to visualize the spelling (a bad thing). I discovered in the process that I'm a much more visually-oriented learner than I realized. (I got around the problem by checking the book out of the library and looking stuff up.)

    Compared to Pagden's "Peoples and Empires," also available here, this is both longer and more focused: it doesn't try to tell all of world history, just as much as possible about this one aspect of it. John Lee is a great narrator, and it's an absorbing and rewarding listen.

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    Worlds at War: The 2,500-Year Struggle Between East and West

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Anthony Pagden
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (412)
    Performance
    (183)
    Story
    (180)

    In the tradition of Jared Diamond and Jacques Barzun, prize-winning historian Anthony Pagden presents a sweeping history of the long struggle between East and West, from the Greeks to the present day.

    The relationship between East and West has always been one of turmoil. In this historical tour de force, a renowned historian leads us from the world of classical antiquity, through the Dark Ages, to the Crusades, Europe's resurgence, and the dominance of the Ottoman Empire, which almost shattered Europe entirely. Pagden travels from Napoleon in Egypt to Europe's carving up of the finally moribund Ottomans - creating the modern Middle East along the way - and on to the present struggles in Iraq.

    Tad Davis says: "Great story, with a lot of unfamiliar names"
  1. Empires of the Sea: The C...
  2. Voyagers of the Titanic: ...
  3. Worlds at War: The 2,500-...
  4. .

Melinda

Melinda UT 03-30-14 Member Since 2009

So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.

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  • "'Safe Return Doubtful'"

    16 of 19 helpful votes

    From one island to another; ten thousand miles away, but tens of thousands of years apart...

    I had a mental image at the start of Hoffman's novel: the privileged Rockefeller, a poster boy for REI, standing ankle deep in the swamp mud, surrounded by his equipment bearing entourage; pockets bulging with credit cards and currency, a million dollar smile, and those ubiquitous thick framed black glasses. Gazing back at him, the stone age Asmat people, smeared with ash and mud, bone-pierced septums, bare bodies bejeweld with the skulls and bones of small animals. Progressing from that freeze frame image, a gigantic round boulder suddenly rolling in Rockefeller's direction, the sounds of phhfftt, phhfftt, phhfftt, would have seemed perfectly in order, I was tensed for the attack. No one, including Spielberg himself, could have told this outrageous tale more vibrantly; so eloquently orchestrating the facts and myths to shed some light on the human condition, as well as the mystery.

    Hoffman, a travel journalist and contributing author/editor for National Geographic and Smithsonian, said in an interview that his goal in writing this book was not to solve the mystery of Michael Rockefeller. He wrote: “I [the author] hungered to see a humanity before the Bible, before the Koran, before Christian guilt and shame, before clothes and knives and forks.” By immersing himself in the Asmat culture, Hoffman came to understand far beyond clues, mythology, and hoaxes, what might have happened to Rockefeller, and fundamentally, why.

    The book has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. I've tried to figure out from which angle to approach a review. It's so much more than *just* the tale of Michael Rockefeller's disappearance -- which alone could rank among Into Thin Air, Kon Tiki, The Right Stuff, The Perfect Storm. Savage Harvest is back-stage access to an amazing story, a travel pass to trek along with a great story teller/ traveler and a public figure that was an avid adventurer on a quest. It is a revealing excursion through a political history, and an education of an ancient people with a complex spiritual system based on the conception of a dualistic, balanced cosmos...whose village was currently feeling very unbalanced and at odds with the modern concepts imposed on them. "The last great unexplored land," a remote island -- that was until as late as 1953, still practicing the ritual of head-hunting and cannibalism. Hoffman gives his readers a multi-faceted gem that has been crafted with skill and intelligence.

    Most impactful for me: The beginning of the book gives a sequence of Michael's demise, from the capsizing of the boat, to the horrific step-by-step ritual of preparing the body for consumption. But, it is Hoffman's wrap up. He concludes with an enigmatic look at another possibility -- which I will not reveal. In a few places, the book reads more like an educational piece than an adventure novel, restating facts, carefully alignment with objectivity, but the story itself is unimaginably fascinating and drives you forward smoothly over any little bumps. I have no complaints about the narrator, but I do think his voice will be a matter of preference. He neither added nor subtracted from the material.

    ***Perhaps you've gone to the Michael C. Rockefeller wing and seen the art of the Asmat people procured by Rockefeller (he was on his way to pick up a piece on his fatal expedition). The canoes, platters, shields carved from mangrove trees are impressive. The bisj (or bis) poles are hypnotic and eerie. The Asmat believe spirits of deceased ancestors inhabit the sacred wooden poles until their death is avenged. The symbols of the Asmat cosmology, indigenous birds, animals and insects, as well as symbolic references to headhunting, and the crowning phallic symbol, are intricately carved into the trees in cyclic rituals which accompany the death of a great warrior, headhunting raids, and as appeasement of evil spirits. You can also listen to Michael's twin sister and father talk about the pieces, their provenance: *Michael C. Rockefeller Expedition, collected 1961; Indonesia, Monu village, Unir (Undir) River region (upper); Culture: Asmat people.* And, you can hear twin sister Mary explain the thick black framed glasses her brother wore; Michael was dyslexic. All the Rockefeller money couldn't buy for Michael the artifacts, the Asmat had no need for money; they cost him chunks of tobacco, metal axes, ramen noodles, and possibly his life.

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    Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Carl Hoffman
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (66)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (58)

    The mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in remote New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world, and even Michael's powerful, influential family, guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story.

    Melinda says: "'Safe Return Doubtful'"

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    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 33 mins)
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    Overall
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    Focusing on contemporary practices, The Culinary Imagination traces the social, aesthetic, and political history of food from myth to modernity, from ancient sources to our current wave of food mania. What does it mean to transform raw stuff into cooked dishes, which then become part of our own bodies; to savor festive meals yet resolve to renounce gluttony; to act as predators where in another life we might have become prey?

  • South Pacific Cauldron: World War II's Great Forgotten Battlegrounds (






UNABRIDGED) by Alan Rems Narrated by Michael Prichard

    South Pacific Cauldron: World War II's Great Forgotten Battlegrounds

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Alan Rems
    • Narrated By Michael Prichard
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    Unlike most other World War II accounts, this work covers the South Pacific operations in detail. The audiobook includes many now-forgotten operations that deserve to be well remembered. Significantly, the official Australian history of World War II correctly observed that Australia's part in the Pacific war is barely mentioned in American histories. This volume finally brings the major Australian contribution to the fore.

  • A First Visit to the Trenches (






UNABRIDGED) by Wilfrid Ewart Narrated by Cathy Dobson

    A First Visit to the Trenches

    • UNABRIDGED (11 mins)
    • By Wilfrid Ewart
    • Narrated By Cathy Dobson
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    English novelist and journalist Wilfrid Ewart (1892-1922) survived the battlefields of the First World War only to die a few years later in Mexico City where near midnight, he stepped out onto his hotel balcony to observe the New Year's festivities and was killed by a stray bullet fired by a reveler below. This is Ewart's firsthand account of his first visit to the trenches in February 1915.

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  • First World War: 1914: Voices from the BBC Archive  by Mark Jones Narrated by Jonathan Keeble

    First World War: 1914: Voices from the BBC Archive

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Mark Jones
    • Narrated By Jonathan Keeble
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    At midnight on 4 August, Britain had declared war on Germany. The pacifist Bertrand Russell was shocked by the pro-war euphoria on the streets, yet young men enlisted willingly because "it would all be over by Christmas". It was not. Instead the opposing armies had become entrenched. It was the beginning of a long and bitter stalemate.

  • Thunder in the Sky (






UNABRIDGED) by Molly Lefebure Narrated by Annie Aldington

    Thunder in the Sky

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Molly Lefebure
    • Narrated By Annie Aldington
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    Their country needed themIn the summer of 1942, Lorna Washbourne must say goodbye to her beloved home in the peaceful East Anglian countryside, which is about to be demolished to make way for the US Eighth Army Air Force and its new airfield.War brings with it great change and Lorna and her friends find themselves called up to serve. Violetta is in the army while Megan and Bunty are sent to London: Megan, in the American Red Cross; Bunty, a clippie on the London buses.

  • The Cruel Victory: The French Resistance, D-Day and the Battle for the Vercors 1944 (






UNABRIDGED) by Paddy Ashdown Narrated by Paddy Ashdown

    The Cruel Victory: The French Resistance, D-Day and the Battle for the Vercors 1944

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Paddy Ashdown
    • Narrated By Paddy Ashdown
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    From best-selling and award-winning author of A Brilliant Little Operation comes the long neglected D-Day story of the Resistance uprising and subsequent massacre on the Vercors massif - the largest action by the French Resistance during the Second World War. In early 1941, three separate groups of plotters - one military, one political, one intellectual - began to organise and plan on and around the forbidding mountainous plateau near Grenoble - the Vercors.

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