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WATERBURY, VT, United States


  • The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Robert A. Caro
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career - 1958 to 1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark.

    Abdur Abdul-Malik says: "From Powerful to Powerless"
    "Well worth the super size length"
    Any additional comments?

    Why jump into a mammoth, 32 hour read, volume 4 of a projected 5, in progress before many of us were born and volume 5 due some years from now?Two answers - for a first look, it stands alone, riveting, full of the story-teller's perfect details and timing.If you thought you'd read all the good stuff, Caro read it and cross-checked and then interviewed the author or surviving player with the questions you might have asked.History and biography can meet and exceed the best fiction, if only because reality is stranger, wilder and harder to freeze into safe, comfort.The non-LBJ characters are vivid, detailed, memorable, quoted and described by the distilled insight of libraries of books, letters and interviews. Myself, I've wondered about Bobby Kennedy, studied under fellows who worked with him, idolized and loved him. Caro shows us that great gift for friendship, and how it shaped written history, but adds the dark side with light, shadow and colors. The JFK portrait alone is worth the read, with the JFK-RFK relationship drawn from anecdotes. Found myself seeing new parts of a president by fully imagining what RFK the hit man, lightning rod and alter ego must say about JFK off-stage giving orders, or onstage communicating with his brother without words.Notes on framing - Caro writes that he found no direct evidence for the "LBJ murdered JFK" theories, and you can read the reviews at for some pointers by opposing authors and readers.A better path into what-if questions, IMHO, is "Tears of Autumn" by espionage expert McCarry, with an Oswald portrait by Stephen King in his recent time travel novel.
    And Vietnam is mostly left for volume 5 - but I found eery parallels between RFK and LBJ losing all control, dignity, RFK defending the Bay of Pigs and firing an advisor who'd proven right, and LBJ chewing-out senior military men posing too-hard choices.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Hilary Mantel
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down.

    Ry Young says: "Perfection in story and the telling"
    "Superb even if you missed Wolf Hall"
    Any additional comments?

    Hilary Mantel makes every detail of the Tudor soap opera brand new, immediate and "can't stop listening" powerful.

    Her present-tense prose works better read-aloud, at least with so fine a reader.

    Cromwell as villain is nuanced by a detailed imagining of his life, his memories, his musings late at night, and even imagining a detained suspect locked, in the dark in the family Christmas closet (puts light on similar stories about More locking heretics in his basement for easier interrogation).

    Okay, there will be a volume 3 for sure, or even a volume per wife, but boat loads of us will be waiting for them.

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • The Coming Fury: The Centennial History of the Civil War, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Bruce Catton
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    >The New York Times hailed this trilogy as “one of the greatest historical accomplishments of our time”. With stunning detail and insights, America’s foremost Civil War historian recreates the war from its opening months to its final, bloody end. Each volume delivers a complete listening experience. The Coming Fury (Volume 1) covers the split Democratic Convention in the spring of 1860 to the first battle of Bull Run.

    Bryan says: "History As It Should Be"
    "Nice balance to Foote"
    Any additional comments?

    Most of us met Shelby Foote as a narrator for the Burns PBS Civil War documentary. Myself, the Audible version of Foote's Civil War is an old friend I come back to again and again. Catton's books were a memory, maybe with Camelot or doo-wop sound track.

    The two complement so well that I am guessing Foote planned it that way.

    Catton goes into greater depth here, setting a narrative, political frame and asking, telling us just how we ended up shooting for four years and terrible battles that can almost overflow memory.

    As a rule, Catton will emphasize strategy with quotes and description - he has a dialog after Sharpsburg/Antietam that may out-Shelby Mr Foote.

    I think I will now audit and re-audit Catton and Foote, if only because we may yet again be running out of compromises.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Eric Greitens
    • Narrated By Eric Greitens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Like many young idealists, Eric Greitens wanted to make a difference. During college and afterward, he traveled to the world's trouble spots, working in refugee camps, serving the sick and the poor on four continents, from Gaza to Croatia to Mother Teresa's home in Calcutta, among others. Yet he could not prevent violence or save anyone from becoming a refugee; he could only step in afterward and try to ease the damage. So Eric joined the Navy SEALs and became an elite warrior....

    Theodore says: "Unforgettable"

    It helps that the author reads his book, but his viewpoint and his character outshine even a rollicking good read about SEAL training, Mother Theresa, Oxford, the Bosnian and Ruanda genocides, and special ops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Found myself looking for anything and everything else by or about this fellow.

    24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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