This is a charming look at America through the eyes of a self-proclaimed nerd and history buff who enjoys reading travel guides. She loves America for all the right reasons; she IS a patriot, although a flawed one. Her flaw lies in her self-imposed liberal guilt. Fortunately, her love for America and its ideals overcome her flaw and makes her praise of America even more poignant.
It has been a long time since I have listened to a book as entertaining as this one. Sarah Vowell writes wonderfull well without preaching. She is very good at letting you know her political affiliation and the reasons why she is what she is without demonizing or attacking others beliefs. She tells wonderful funny vignettes and situations that just make her ask why.
It is important that, before you buy this book, you acquaint yourself with Sarah Vowell's singular voice. Having fallen in love with her on This American Life over the last few years, it would be impossible for me to hear anyone else read this series of stories, but I understand that it's easy to have a difficult time listening to her if it's your first time. To me, she sounds like an old friend, who's so excited about history that I'm engrossed in her stories.
A self-absorbed young woman with an adenoidal voice rambles through her particular views on politics and history. There are some interesting observations, and there are some trite cliches. History is more interesting when facts are presented, and the reader is left to make his or her own judgments.
In most cases, the audio edition of a book is, at best, equal to the printed edition. Equal enjoyment can be dervived from each. This is the rare case where the audio outshines the printed.
Simply hearing the essays in the author's own nasal tone adds much to the enjoyment. Some may find Vowell's voice annoying, but they should try to get past that and listen to her earnest inflection and tone. Many of the stories in these essays are taken from the author's own life. Hearing her relate them in a sad or excited or sarcastic tone give us much more insight into how these experiences made her feel.
What really makes this audio edition soar are the additions in the form of celebrity cameos and bumper music by They Might Be Giants. Instead of Vowell reading the many historical or personal quotes in the book, celebrities have been brought in to read them. This sets the quotes off from the rest of the narrative. The quotes from George W. Bush and Al Gore are made even better by uncanny impressions. The TMBG bumper music helps to set the scene or sum up the essay. The songs at the end of the end of the "Pop-A-Shot" essay and in the middle of the "God Will Give You Blood to Drink..." essay are especially funny.
Hardcore conservatives should be aware that Vowell is unabashedly liberal. If the mere thought of a liberal point-of-view turns you off, you'd best stay away from this book. However, if you can keep an open mind and try to share in the author's earnest patriotism, you are in for a treat.
This book had me going to the bookstore looking for the author's books that aren't available in audio, even though I don't know when I will find the time to actually read. No other audiobook has done that. This book is highly recommended.
Heard an interview on NPR. Decided I wanted to read more. I was not disappointed. High recommendation.
I love Sarah Vowell's reporting on This American Life, and her books are like an extended radio piece.
I love Vowell's voice - it's really unique and she always makes me laugh with her delivery. I don't think this book would be very good read by anyone but her.
The historical subject matter could be bo-ring, but her personal take on experiencing history (going to Salem on vacation, questioning the teenage tour guides at an old plantation) is hilarious.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who's starting out listening to Vowell's audiobooks - it's similar to much of her reporting for NPR and very accessable.
I had never even heard of Sarah Vowell before downloading this book from Audible, but I am now a big fan. Ms. Vowell, with her dry delivery and ironic wit, is often compared with David Sedaris. The difference is this: Mr. Sedaris makes funny observations about his life, while Ms. Vowell is a literate and well-read humorous commentator on American history and politics. While Mr. Sedaris might make you laugh (if you can stand his voice), Sarah Vowell might actually make you think.
I have just finished this audiobook and the first place I came was back to Audible.com to download any other books by Sarah Vowell! This book is AMAZING! Don't be put off by reviewers that claim that it is a left wing political book or that Sarah's voice is whiney or irritating. Neither is true. The book is personal and has no political axe to grind that I could see. As for Sarah's voice, c'mon this is a person that is a professional voice over artist and radio personality! As an American, I was moved by the content and the author's reading made it that much more personal for me!! Try this book!
This was a great listen. Her stories are fun and interesting and it is a good blend of history and personal anectdotes. Although she often lets her personal politics shade the text, the narrative is fun.
The only thing I didn't like were the strange and sometimes long musical interludes. Some were fun, but most were just annoying.