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World

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Michael

Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States Member Since 2002

I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

HELPFUL VOTES
2811
ratings
REVIEWS
1377
387
FOLLOWERS
FOLLOWING
850
9
  • "Wonderful"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read this series years ago, then listened to them on cassette tape, and have begged for them on Audible for many years. Finally, the first two have appeared. No history is perfect, and history written in the forties cannot help but be dated, yet the authors’ presentation, tone, and focus seem surprisingly up to date. I really like the authors’ quirky sense of humor and matter of fact tone. This series is eleven big volumes totaling something like 500 hours. This history is very easy to listen to and it is hard for me to imagine anyone who would not find a lot of it interesting. Some people dislike the somewhat thematic instead of chronological approach, but I found it engaged me more than most histories. Persians and Chinese may be rightfully chagrined at the short shrift given their influential cultures and I agree with those who argue that the authors focus on exceptional individuals and deemphasize the importance of randomness in history. Nevertheless this is a series that I would recommend to anyone over twelve that wants to learn about western history. For me this was hundreds and hundreds of hours of fun and I did a little dance when I saw these were now available on Audible. Frankly none of the narration is perfect, but Robin Field does a good job in this volume. This volume covers pre-history and the invention of language and art up to the ancient eastern influences on western civilization. Selfishly I want to encourage people to listen to these first two so Audible will get the rest of the series.

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    Our Oriental Heritage: The Story of Civilization, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (50 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Will Durant
    • Narrated By Robin Field
    Overall
    (70)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (59)

    The first volume of Will Durant's Pulitzer Prize-winning series, Our Oriental Heritage: The Story of Civilization, Volume I chronicles the early history of Egypt, the Middle East, and Asia.

    Michael says: "Wonderful"
  • "Fantastic"

    Overall

    Western histories tend to avoid this bit - this book fixes that big time. It is a history, but with about as much characterization as is possible. It is filled with details and I learned a lot and enjoyed every minute. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history. The story is filled with action and intrigue, technology and religion, war and even a little peace. It is more than just the novelty that makes this a wonderful listen, it is the story and the characters.

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    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."
  1. Our Oriental Heritage: Th...
  2. Genghis Khan and the Maki...
  3. .

E. Smakman

E. Smakman Netherlands 11-30-09 Member Since 2007
HELPFUL VOTES
107
ratings
REVIEWS
159
37
FOLLOWERS
FOLLOWING
6
3
  • "Gripping, once you get into it"

    38 of 38 helpful votes

    The reviews I have seen so far are between enthusiasm and irritation. This definitely is an audiobook that needs getting into. The narrator has a fast pace, which takes some time to get used to (but is required for the book not to be 40 hours...), and the topic is highly entertaining and gripping.

    Why is this gripping? The book describes one of the bloodiest centuries in European History, with millions wiped out because of the Plague and probably hundreds of thousands due to wars, pillaging, meaningless executions, revolts and brutal slaughter of entire towns in reprisal. It describes the evil character of man in its eternal quest for more, whether it be power, glory, wealth or beauty; and the ruthlessness to achieve or obtain it.

    Many developments of later ages can be understood from what started in this 14th century: the pogroms, the rise of populism and popular revolution, new military doctrines, and anticlerical movements.

    A book this size has its drawbacks: there are numerous listings - of people, towns & regions, of the composition and resources of various armies and the payment each officer receives. Also the narrative uses a historical figure 'Angerand de Coucy' as a red line, while this might give too much focus on his exploits instead of describing the reasons or arguments behind historical events. Nonetheless, in an age so void of written records and chronologies, it is wonderfully detailed.

    But these drawbacks are overshadowed by the lyric description of the royal bloodlines of France and England, their perpetual strife and cinematic character. Therefore, well recommended!

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    A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Barbara W. Tuchman
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (766)
    Performance
    (334)
    Story
    (339)

    The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering time of crusades and castles, cathedrals and chivalry, and the exquisitely decorated Books of Hours; and on the other, a time of ferocity and spiritual agony, a world of chaos and the plague.

    E. Smakman says: "Gripping, once you get into it"

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    • By Michael Warner
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UNABRIDGED) by Miyamoto Musashi Narrated by Alan Munro

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

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    • By John McCain, Mark Salter
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UNABRIDGED) by Edouard Kayihura, Kerry Zukus Narrated by Mirron Willis, Rosalind Ashford

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    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 48 mins)
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    • Narrated By Mirron Willis, Rosalind Ashford
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (0)
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UNABRIDGED) by Michael Rank Narrated by Kevin Pierce

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    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Michael Rank
    • Narrated By Kevin Pierce
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

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