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Travel & Adventure > Essays & Travelogues

Essays & Travelogues

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Tad Davis

Tad Davis Philadelphia, PA USA Member Since 2005
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  • "Hilarious"

    Overall

    For some reason I missed "Roughing It" in my earlier attempts at reading all of Mark Twain. My loss: it's an absolutely hilarious journey, part factual reporting, part tall tale in the best western campfire tradition. (If you're familiar with the omitted "raft chapter" in "Huckleberry Finn," you know what to expect.) One of Twain's greatest strengths is his willingness to include himself among the objects of genial mockery. This is Mark Twain the Humorist at his best.

    I didn't find the problems with audio quality that others reported. I agree that Fraley's recording of "Huckleberry Finn" is a superior piece of work, but Norman Dietz does a great job on this one. He's droll, unassuming, loquacious, and endearing, and he adopts one of a variety of other voices at the drop of a hat. My one complaint would be a certain breathiness of delivery -- occasional rapid delivery punctuated by sharp intakes of breath. I think this is partly a matter of recording age and technology: I find that occurring less often on more recent audiobooks. In any case, for an audiobook that gave me this much pleasure, I have to give it five stars.

    More

    Roughing It: A Personal Narrative

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Norman Dietz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (131)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (42)

    "If there is any life that is happier than the life we led on our timber ranch, it must be the sort of life which I have not read of in books or experienced in person," wrote Mark Twain, and now you can share in that experience. The beloved American humorist spent seven years on a "pleasure trip" through the untamed wilderness of Nevada. Twain intended to spend three months touring silver mines, but the lure of rough terrain and comfortable clothes proved irresistible - as will this vibrant travelogue.

    Tad Davis says: "Hilarious"
  • "Tasty, but abridged"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    An interesting travelogue. It's billed as "unabridged," but it isn't, really. The publishers have combined parts of Johnson's "Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland" with parts of Boswell's "Tour of the Hebrides." Both books tell the story of the same journey, from very different points of view. The editing has been done carefully, so there's little overlap; when Johnson and Boswell both relate the same anecdote, one or the other has been chosen for this presentation. But a good bit of both books - especially Johnson's, the more discursive of the two - has been omitted; and the audiobook ended so abruptly that I wondered if part of it was missing.

    On the other hand, taken for what it is - an invitation to sample the works of these two excellent men - it's a lovely and lively four-hour treat. Alexander Spencer is a creditable Boswell, and Patrick Tull, ever the gruff, gravelly narrator, is a wonderful Johnson. I would go so far as to say that if you want to stick your toe in the Johnson/Boswell stream, this is a good place to start.

    I would love to see an audiobook based on the same idea - intertwined selections from the two books - but with fuller selections. The great thing about Johnson's book is that you really feel like you've been to Scotland; the great thing about Boswell's is that you really feel like you've been there with Johnson.

    Footnote: with the exception of this audiobook, both men have been somewhat poorly served in audio. Boswell's life of Johnson is available in either a well-produced but massively abridged version, or a massively complete version with mediocre sound quality. What's needed is a well-produced, well-performed, and sensibly abridged version: 15-20 hours, maybe: enough to linger over some of the famous episodes but not so much that the pace lags. (There's a BBC dramatization available on Audible that I hope to review soon. It's a great listen, but again, it's mostly a "greatest hits" version.)

    Johnson has been served even worse - in quantity, not in quality. Apart from this book and a recording or two of his novel "Rasselas," there are no audio editions of Johnson's prose. And Johnson's prose is brilliant: rolling, thunderous, incisive, honorable, and wise. His preface to Shakespeare is one of the greatest pieces of criticism ever written. His essays for The Idler, The Rambler, and The Adventurer are full of awesome turns of phrase and "aha!" moments. Couldn't somebody be persuaded to put together a 15-20 hour anthology of Johnson's writings? Patrick Tull is no longer with us, but maybe Kenneth Cranham could be persuaded to do the honors.

    As it stands now, once your taste has been whetted by the "Hebrides" audiobook, there's nowhere much to go for more of the same except print. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

    More

    A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Samuel Johnson, James Boswell
    • Narrated By Patrick Tull, Alexander Spencer
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    Tad Davis says: "Tasty, but abridged"
  • "Channeling Mark Twain"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Robin Field comes about as close to channelling Mark Twain as it's possible for someone to do in the electronic age. Contemporaries described Twain's voice as a somewhat high-pitched drawl, and Field's reedy voice comes close to matching that description. He delivers Twain's observations on the Mediterranean world and the people who travel to see it with mostly deadpan humor, occasionally pausing slightly for timing or not-quite-clearing-his-throat for emphasis. For a long time, the only version of this book available on Audible was narrated by Flo Gibson; and while Flo Gibson is always a delight to hear, this reading is clearly more Twain-ish.

    The book itself poses some problems for the reader in the 21st century. Twain spares no one his satiric eye; the "quaint" customs of Old Europe come in for particularly acidic commentary, as do the fawning antics of the New World travellers. But it's when the book veers out of Europe and into the Muslim worlds of Turkey, Syria, and Palestine that Twain's voice becomes a bit grating. Twain had few equals when decrying the ravages of poverty close to home, but for some reason when he got to the Middle East, his usual compassion deserted him, and the behavior of people trapped in brutal poverty -- alternately begging, feuding, and slumped in despair -- seems to have aroused a sense of moral indignation at the victims.

    Still, Twain was a hard-nosed reporter to his core, and it would be difficult to find more precisely-observed pictures of unfamiliar sights than the ones he sets forth here. This isn't the funniest of his travel books, but it's a good place to start.

    More

    The Innocents Abroad

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Robin Field
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (37)

    The Innocents Abroad is a keenly observant, politically incorrect and often hilarious narration of the author’s cruise to the Holy Land aboard a retired Civil War ship. First published in 1869 and the bestselling of Twain’s works in his lifetime, The Innocents Abroad will delight listeners with the celebrated author’s musings on historic landmarks, cultural differences and silly travelling companions.

    David says: "A step in the right direction."
  1. Roughing It: A Personal N...
  2. A Journey to the Western ...
  3. The Innocents Abroad
  4. .

A Peek at Beth's Bookshelf

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Benoibe

Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 05-19-13 Member Since 2010

Audio-addict!!

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  • "Entertaining and very funny. A wort..."

    8 of 11 helpful votes

    Having read Bryson's The Short History of Nearly Everything and At Home: A History of Private Life, this book was a surprise for me. This book was written well before those two, and was a huge departure from what I expected.

    This has a little history and a little science, but it is mostly the story if Bryson and a friend walking Appalachian. While that may not sound very exciting, it is! This story is never boring and will constantly make you laugh. It demonstrates a much different side of Bill Brysonthan I knew.

    Highly recommended.

    Also, whole many reviewers say they prefer when Bill Bryson reads his own work. I do not agree. At Home was read by Bryson, and it was ok. The narrator for this book is more than ok! He is exceptional and does an amazing job with the character voices. I don't think fans of the author will be disappointed with the narration!!

    More

    A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Rob McQuay
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (515)
    Performance
    (468)
    Story
    (480)

    The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America - majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaing guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way - and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

    colleen says: "What a treat"

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  • Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World's Difficult Places (






UNABRIDGED) by Tim Keesee Narrated by Lloyd James

    Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World's Difficult Places

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Tim Keesee
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
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    China, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq...God is at work. Christians are testifying. The gospel is advancing. In this captivating travelogue, a veteran missions mobilizer leads listeners to experience global Christianity, exploring the faith and lives of Christians living in some of the world's most perilous countries. The incredible accounts recorded here - stories that span the globe from China to Afghanistan - highlight the bold faith and sacrificial bravery of God's people.

  • Alaska: Travelogue by State, Experience Both the Ordinary and Obscure (






UNABRIDGED) by Amber Richards Narrated by Kris Price

    Alaska: Travelogue by State, Experience Both the Ordinary and Obscure

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 48 mins)
    • By Amber Richards
    • Narrated By Kris Price
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    More than just travel guides, these state-by-state editions, dial-in to the locales, the events, the goods, the foods, sights, sounds, and characters you must experience if you want the right to say, "I've been there!" It is not a typical travel guide, in the sense that the focus is not about where to eat and where to stay, but rather on where to go and what to experience to get an authentic sense of Alaska. In this edition, Amber collaborates with a local Alaskan to pop the cork on America's true wild frontier.

  • Fright Night on the Can't Miss (






UNABRIDGED) by Larry Jarboe Narrated by Ward Paxton

    Fright Night on the Can't Miss

    • UNABRIDGED (17 mins)
    • By Larry Jarboe
    • Narrated By Ward Paxton
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    What could go wrong when two young couples join a charter boat full of senior citizens on a trip to visit Fort Jefferson in the Florida Keys?

  • Under Asian Skies: Australia to Europe by Motorcycle - an Enthralling Journey Through One of the World's Most Colourful and Diverse Regions (






UNABRIDGED) by Sam Manicom Narrated by Sam Manicom

    Under Asian Skies: Australia to Europe by Motorcycle - an Enthralling Journey Through One of the World's Most Colourful and Diverse Regions

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Sam Manicom
    • Narrated By Sam Manicom
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    In Sam’s second book, Under Asian Skies, you'll find yourself immersed in an enchanting mix of drama, majesty, laughter, mystery, love, and his usual disasters. Sometimes a traveller's plans simply don't work out as intended, but for Sam every mishap is the beginning of a unique adventure; silver linings do exist. You'll travel on a journey across the vastness of Australia, through the twists and turns of New Zealand, and on up into the exotic lands of Southeast Asia.

    Jim Foreman says: "A charming and insightful tale of motorbike travel"
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  • Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park: Rancho of General Mariano Vallejo  by Patricia L. Lawrence Narrated by J. D. Streeter

    Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park: Rancho of General Mariano Vallejo

    • ORIGINAL (28 mins)
    • By Patricia L. Lawrence
    • Narrated By J. D. Streeter
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    Audio Journalist Patricia Lawrence explores Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park in Petaluma California, the early 19th century Mexican rancho and primitive factory of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. General Vallejo is a prominent figure in California's Mexican history. A California State Historical Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

  • Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitor Center in Hardin, Montana: 19th -Century Life in Rural America  by Patricia L. Lawrence Narrated by J. D. Streeter

    Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitor Center in Hardin, Montana: 19th -Century Life in Rural America

    • ORIGINAL (28 mins)
    • By Patricia L. Lawrence
    • Narrated By J. D. Streeter
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    Audio Journeys from Travel Radio International, exploration into destinations around the world. Patricia Lawrence is exploring Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitor Center in Hardin, Montana. Located in what was once a major wheat producing region, the expansive living museum keeps history alive with 26 historic buildings, tools, farm equipment, barns, and thousands of other artifacts from 19th-century Anglo-Saxon life in rural America.

  • Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center: Where Rescued Wildlife Receives Care  by Patricia L. Lawrence Narrated by J. D. Streeter

    Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center: Where Rescued Wildlife Receives Care

    • ORIGINAL (28 mins)
    • By Patricia L. Lawrence
    • Narrated By J. D. Streeter
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    Audio journalist Patricia Lawrence tours the Blue Mountain Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center near Pendleton, Oregon, with Lynn Tompkins, founding director of the educational nonprofit, where injured wildlife are given veterinarian treatment and lovingly cared for. The center is an important source of education and information about western wildlife.