There isn't much I can add to what other reviewers have already said but I still had to share my enthusiasm for what may be the best history I've read/heard of the 20th century. There are all the major developments but also minor stories that might seem anecdotal but are often representative of the ethos of the time they describe. My remembered consciousness only begins in the 1980s but I imagine that these are all the things people of those times sat around the kitchen table or the workplace water cooler talking about. The sound quality isn't very good with many glitches throughout and long stretches of distortions in chapters 15 and 26. The material was so spectacularily good though that the sound problems didn't appreciably detract from my enjoyment. Highly, highly recommended! 57 1/2 hours might seem long but at the end I just found myself wanting another 50 hours. I just wish there were a similar a-book covering the following 40 year stretch to the present.
I almost did not buy this book because to the review comments concerning the technical issues. There are a few skips but considering the length of the recording they are minor. I did love this book because it covers a period in history that you never seemed to get to in school. Since I was born in 1955 it was very intersting to hear about happenings since my birth many of them I have some memory of. The author interjects tid bits of popular culture now and then which I enjoyed.
Yes, I would. The book itself is great and the narration isn't bad played at half-speed. However, why the hell would you present a book of this length, and this many parts, without labeling the parts so that when finished with one part, you don't have to hunt for the next?
Always listening ...
Bottom 50% of history books
Don't Know Much About History ... reviews so much but only skin deep, and tries to be humorous.
The intersection of the stand-up Eisenhower and the bottom-dweller Joe MCarthy in the early 50's.
No, but it did disappoint in the 1960s. Focuses on nothing but sex, civil rights, and the counterculture.
Its a solid survey history from 1932-1962, with interesting focus throughout on social and cultural history but then it loses its direction, ... possibly the fact that such "history" was too close in time to the book's publication affected its substance.
Giving Manchester his due, this book is remarkably listenable and compelling, and Jeff Riggenbach reads it superbly; it's clear he's the perfect match for the author. As a result, just as a good book is hard to put down, I found this audiobook is awfully hard to switch off.
Yet it frequently left me feeling annoyed... And its flaws and omissions are not confined to the many places where the audio skips (as mentioned by other commenters); in fact, those skips seem relatively minor annoyances, when you consider how many hours of good listening you get for just one credit. For me, the bigger annoyances are those of Manchester's biases and emphasis.
As it happens, I read this book around fifteen or twenty years ago. At the time, I loved it. As in his multivolume Churchill biography and the assorted magazine essays I'm familiar with, Manchester had an amazing gift for lively, brisk, readable, colorful popular history spiced with memorable quotes and well-chosen details (all of which probably set him apart from his fellow academics). Subsequently, however, I've read a good deal more twentieth-century U.S. history, and Manchester's biases in this book -- his left-of-center politics, rather uncritical adulation of unions, slightly sentimental affection for working stiffs, scorn for businessmen and disdain for Republicans (whom he tends to caricature), worship of FDR, and penchant for breezy generalizations about the American people and their opinions, from bobby-soxers to G.I.'s -- seemed more glaring this time around, and more irritating. I sometimes felt as if I were listening to a sort of scholarly Joe Biden (and that's not a good thing) or a medley of Time magazine essays (also not a good thing).
I was also irritated by the very chapters I remember devouring with the greatest pleasure the first time around: those that focus on World War II. Any book that encompasses this much history is bound to be a bit superficial, but Manchester's treatment of many key aspects of the war seems almost inexcusably hasty. The Fall of France, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz are barely alluded to (though for some reason Julie Andrews receives three mentions); the Battle of Midway -- one of the most crucial events of the war, and easily one of the most dramatic -- is described in two or three paragraphs, and somewhat confusingly at that. (His much lengthier coverage of Pearl Harbor is also a little confusing, though still gripping.) Because Manchester himself fought in the Pacific, we get plenty of that side of the war, plus a very skillful account of the Manhattan Project and the dropping of the bombs. But D-Day, Omaha Beach and all, gets -- astonishingly -- just a few sentences; so does the Battle of the Bulge (which is personally disappointing, since my father fought in it); Market Garden isn't even mentioned; and yet the intricacies of Franklin Roosevelt's medical history, the various worrisome signs of his failing health, his behavior at his final public appearances, the feelings of his doctors and various colleagues and relatives, the minute-by-minute events leading up to his death, the memories of various people as to what they were doing when they learned of it, the exact wording of the news flashes, the minutiae of his funeral and its press coverage -- all are treated in endless, almost microscopic detail.
In sum, Manchester was a wonderfully gifted writer, and his talent makes anything he chooses to talk about in this breezy, colorful, lively narrative fairly enjoyable. But in the end you're likely to come away with a somewhat distorted picture.
This book is really great. I was skeptical about some of the reviews where the listener heard audio glitches. They must have fixed that because I only ever heard one noticible glitch in a book that is two whole volumes.
I first read Manchester's The Last Lion Pt. 2 - Alone, and I thought he was a great author but this book blew me away. It is a narrivitve history and one that everyone should read and listen to.
I plan on listening to it again down the road, it was that good.
No favorites, there are hundreds.
It really brought into focus the people and history of America from the depression to watergate.
I was really impressed with Esinhower.His understanding of the world stage and the milatary was not what I expected.
Jeff Riggenbach had the sound of a seasoned newsman of the day.It was great casting.
America from the ground up!
There is much to be learned from our past!
Matybe. It is very very long -- over 40 hours. I listen as I get up in the morning, drive to work and come back. Wonderful experience.
Too many to review: It's history. Lots and lots of critically important information and dates.
Lots. Again, in the history of 40 or so years, it's a wonderful story.
Everyone should listen. It's wonderfully written -- full of color and lively. Well recorded. Transfixing.
This is an excellent book by a great history writer. William Manchester loved the English language and it shows in his writing. In this social history he spent a paragraph during each era covered and he would write out a scenario using only the slang of the era. It was a fun thing to hear.
In this overly long book, the author’s notation not mine, William Manchester covers everything that impacted American culture or at least tries to. This book is a great survey history of this era. The covering of this particular 40 years can be seen as a history of the growth and height of the liberal movement. With Franklin D. Roosevelt as the beginning, and Richard M. Nixon as the beginning of the end for it.
Manchester’s work is a great history by a writer who clearly had fun writing. The phrasing and transition sentences show a sheer pleasure in finding a right way that was entertaining to the author and therefore the reader. This large book is worth the reading for any history student especially for the heart of the twentieth Century.
More narrative than history. Read it once, but don't use it as a history reference book. Manchester relies too often on contemporary popular journalism, and a lot of the material has been contradicted by more recent and more scholarly research. After reading the book 20 years ago, I felt I "knew" a lot of things that are now considered just plain wrong. Further, as the book approaches the end-point of 1973 it becomes myopic. (For example, the phony Howard Hughes biography seemed far more important in '73 than it does now.) The Watergate onion was just starting to be unpeeled when the book closes and Nixon is reelected, so we're left hanging, feeling like we've lost the last pages of a mystery novel. Had Manchester known the conclusion of the Watergate scandal, the part of the story he did write about would need to be reshaped.
That said, the book has a great narrative sweep, and a sort of elegant architecture. Forgotten trivia, fads, and cultural artifacts are exhumed and examined. Astonishingly fatuous political utterances and marmoreal editorial pronouncements from the past are trotted out and given the raspberries they deserve. Moreover, Manchester is a lucid storyteller, and refreshingly, his political tendencies (left) give the whole enterprise some spine and forward motion. He successfully shows how, and why, the United States went from point A to point B over 40 event-filled years, and I came away feeling I understood my grandparents, my parents, and my country a little better.