The narrator takes deep, audble breaths every few sentences, and I found the cumulative effect very distracting -- to the point that I couldn't concentrate on the material, and ended up returning the book after just about an hour or so (this is the first book I have returned in over 50 Audible selections). I don't know exactly what the problem was with this recording, since I have listened to several other books narrated by Robert Fass with no similar issue.. And I was really looking forward to the content of this book, so that's not a factor, either. I encourage you to listen carefully to the preview of this book, with the volume at your normal level in your normal listening environment (something I, unfortunately, did not do before purchasing). If you don't hear what I'm complaining about, or it doesn't bother you -- well, then it won't be a problem. (A word about the low "overall" and "story" ratings I have assigned: I didn't listen to enough of the book to form a true basis for judgment in those areas, but Audible requires a rating before it will let you move on.)
The part of this book that deals with the creation and aftermath of the dictionary -- roughly the second half -- is moderately interesting. But the rest of Webster's story is not especially compelling, and the man himself comes across as quirky, at best, and a miserable human being, at his worst. Compared to the traditional Founding Fathers, Webster was simply lacking in impact, spirit, temperament, outlook, optimism, complexity, generosity -- you name it. Kendall convincingly conveys the "obsession" part of Webster's life, and he repeatedly asserts that Webster created an American culture, but the latter claim is essentially undocumented and, therefore, unpersuasive. The narrator makes the most of the material he has to work with but ultimately, I'm afriad, it's much ado about very little.
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