He has a gift for accents, and his Churchill from boyhood into adulthood was astonishingly real.
Don't let the length of this volume scare you off. If you are at all interested in modern history, this is a fascinating and enlightening book. It seems like Manchester includes everything there is to be known about Churchill's early life. This is all told against the extremely rich background of the last days of Victorian England and the glory of the British Empire, upon which "the sun never sets". I found the material describing the Victorian era and the empire to be fascinating and enriching as well.
Finally, Frederick Davidson is an extremely thoughtful and talented narrator, and this volume represents the most perfect match of narrator to subject that I have ever heard. His "Churchillian" voice is virtually indistinguishable from the original.
The most extreme reaction I had to this book was disappointment in the change of narrators. Richard Brown would have been better just reading the text in his own voice. He has absolutely no talent for voices, inflections, and accents. He uses the same amateurish devices when quoting almost every character. His Churchill is painful to listen to when compared with Davidson's absolutely spot-on impression. In fact, there's not much difference between Brown reading Churchill and Brown reading Hitler. The two actually sound similar in this book. Too bad, I loved both volumes of Manchester's The Last Lion but I was irritated with the narration of Volume II from beginning to end.
The reading by Jay Sanders was fantastic. He is a master at different accents, voice inflections, and dramatic reading. I have both read this book and listened to the audio version, and I have to say that Jay Sanders performance made me laugh out loud many times and was gut-bustingly funny at times. A classic book and a classic performance.
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