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BB

Editor, www.neglectedbooks.com

APO, AE, United States | Member Since 2007

ratings
105
REVIEWS
18
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
9
HELPFUL VOTES
55

  • Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Max Hastings
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (231)
    Performance
    (192)
    Story
    (198)

    From one of our finest military historians comes a monumental work that shows us at once the truly global reach of World War II and its deeply personal consequences. Remarkably informed and wide-ranging, Inferno is both elegantly written and cogently argued. Above all, it is a new and essential understanding of one of the greatest and bloodiest events of the 20th century.

    Mike From Mesa says: "A different kind of history"
    "A masterful and moving human panorama"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Max Hastings' ability to find first-person accounts and integrate them into his narrative has always been one of his outstanding talents, and in "Inferno," he has the chance to do this on a global scale. I listened to this immediately after Andrew Robert's "The Storm of War," and the two books are remarkably complementary: Roberts provides a better-organized narrative, while Hastings provides countless memorable snapshots of the human cost of the war. Hastings does not skimp on covering the full range of events and theatres, and manages to include dozens of lesser-known aspects, such as the siege of Budapest in 1944 and the magnitude of Japanese war crimes in China. Ralph Cosham's narration has a certain hesitant quality that took a little getting used to, but in the end, it seemed perfect for the text. I certainly hope that Audible will acquire Hastings' other works, such as "Overlord," "Armageddon," and "Retribution."

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Trial [Alpha DVD]

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Franz Kafka
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    Overall
    (52)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (35)

    Josef K. is an ordinary man who is arrested on his 30th birthday. He is prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, yet the nature of his crime is never revealed to him. One year after his arrest he is executed. His last words describe his own death: "Like a dog!"

    Lane says: "Excellent reading of a classic book"
    "Excellent match of text and performer--a steal"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Trial may be the greatest book ever written about the ruthless, logical absurdity of a bureaucracy at its most extreme. If you've ever gotten the run-around at the DMV or your insurance company, you will find the story of Josef K uncomfortably familiar. Dick Hill has just the right voice--a little older, precise, particular--to deliver this text in its cold, comic perfection. Well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Lewis Carroll
    • Narrated By Christopher Plummer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (297)
    Performance
    (178)
    Story
    (176)

    Since the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 and Through the Looking Glass six years later, Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical tales have delighted the world with wildly imaginative and unforgettable journeys. While charming children with a heroine who represents their own feelings about growing up, the Alice stories are also appreciated by adults as a gentle satire on education, politics, literature, and Victorian life in general.

    Claire Wofford says: "a little disappointed"
    "Astonishly versatile and funny performance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am in awe of Christopher Plummer's enormous range of vocal characterizations, many of them hysterically idiosyncratic and affected. I could easily listen to this again just to marvel at his audacity. He threw himself headlong into this performance. Nothing you've seen him do on screen will prepare you for this, and perhaps it's his experience as a dramatic, subtle actor that provided him with a rock-solid foundation from which to launch into dizzingly comic heights. Wonderful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Count Luna

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Alexander Lernet-Holenia
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Count Luna is the story of Alexander Jessiersky, an Austrian aristocrat who presides over a Viennese transport company. As World War II opens, Jessiersky, who detests the Nazis, is asked by his board of directors to acquiesce in the confiscation of a neighboring parcel of land in order to accommodate expanded war business. Jessiersky refuses to go along, but because of inattention or laziness his board carries out the land seizure behind his back.

    Theresa says: "Great literature, great narrator"
    "Paranoia dialled up to 11"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A Kafka-esque black comedy, Count Luna is a tale of a man allowing his paranoia to spin out of control, with fatal consequences to a number of innocent bystanders and ultimately to himself. Lernet-Holenia treats his hero with an ice cold ruthlessness that just makes the bitterness of his situation all the more comic. Jessiersky's fate is as bleak and savagely funny as that of Tony Last in Waugh's Decline and Fall. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Short Stay in Hell

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Steven L. Peck
    • Narrated By Sergei Burbank
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (146)
    Story
    (148)

    An ordinary family man, geologist, and Mormon, Soren Johansson has always believed he'll be reunited with his loved ones after death in an eternal hereafter. Then, he dies. Soren wakes to find himself cast by a God he has never heard of into a Hell whose dimensions he can barely grasp: a vast library he can only escape from by finding the book that contains the story of his life. In this haunting existential novella, author, philosopher, and ecologist Steven L. Peck explores a subversive vision of eternity.

    Janice says: "I'll be thinking about this one for a while."
    "Great premise, disappointing realization"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The premise of a Hell built of an infinite number of shelves all filled with random, meaningless texts--not even text, just letters--sounded like the terrific basis for a novella. But Peck falls into a common trap of novice writers: he tries to explain too many practical details in a situation in which sense is largely unnecessary. This weakness is compounded by the the failure to deliver a story with a shape and direction. Kafka was a master of absurd situations and exploited that to free himself of a narrative shape, but with similar raw ingredients, the result here is well short of the master's.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dead Father

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Donald Barthelme
    • Narrated By Dennis Holland
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (10)

    The Dead Father is a gargantuan half-dead, half-alive, part mechanical, wise, vain, powerful being who still has hopes for himself - even while he is being dragged by means of a cable toward a mysterious goal. In this extraordinary novel, marked by the imaginative use of language that influenced a generation of fiction writers, Donald Barthelme offered a glimpse into his fictional universe.

    BB says: "If prepared for post-modernist comedy, drive on!"
    "If prepared for post-modernist comedy, drive on!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If what you enjoy is a straightforward narrative told in straightforward prose, turn around now. Barthelme is unapologetically post-modernist in approach and outlook, and in the case of "The Dead Father," introduces a healthy dose of surrealism as well. The Dead Father is an enormous figure being dragged towards some little-explained destination. He's dead. But he's not. He is a symbolic figure, at times even a mythic figure--he creates a new god just by sticking one eye in a river.

    Much of the book is snatches of dialogue, sometimes in clear context, sometimes nearly incoherent. Which is actually why it lends itself to the audiobook format, at least in the hands of a reader prepared to piece out which remark belongs to which character. Dennis Holland does a superb job of interpreting a very challenging text, and the listener owes him for his work in helping us through the work. The reading reminded very much of Nick Sullivan's outstanding reading of William Gaddis' "J.R.," and if you appreciate Gaddis' humor, you are well prepared to enjoy Barthelme's. There are moments of such wonderful wordplay and verbal juxtapositions that I burst out laughing.

    While this isn't one of my top 10 audiobooks, it's one I'm very satisfied to have purchased and listened to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Barry Lyndon

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By William Makepeace Thackeray
    • Narrated By Jonathan Keeble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (14)

    Like Tom Jones before him, Barry Lyndon is one of the most lively and roguish characters in English literature. He may now be best known through the colorful Stanley Kubrick film released in 1975, but it is Thackeray who, in true 19th-century style, shows him best.

    Amazon Customer says: "Keeble really tears it up (Chapter Four ending)"
    "A masterful reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you've seen Stanley Kubrick's film of "Barry Lyndon," you know the story but not the character. Ryan O'Neal played Barry Lyndon as a rather tender innocent who becomes spoiled by exposure to cheats and tricksters, but Thackeray's Barry Lyndon was quite a different person. He is boastful, conceited, loud-mouthed, a lecher, a gambler, a blackmailer, a liar, and a drunk. "I never struck my wife but when I was in liquor," he comments at one point, as if it was sufficient justification. In other words, he is one of the great anti-heroes of fiction, a man who manages to insult his mother as pretentious, long-winded and vain in the same moment as he is praising her loyalty. Thackeray was making fun of the so-called Irish nobility, who claimed to be descendants of kings while living in "castles" little better than hovels, and "Barry Lyndon" is a satire painted in broad, comic strokes. Jonathan Keeble's reading is one of the finest I've heard in the course of listen to over a hundred Audible titles. He wrings every comic drop from the text, even getting a good laugh just by his interpretation of Thackeray's blanks ("the Duke of ___"). I can't imagine anyone giving a better performance of this text. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tristram Shandy

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Laurence Sterne
    • Narrated By Peter Barker
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (26)

    The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a novel by Laurence Sterne considered one of the greatest comic novels in English. It was published in nine volumes, the first two appearing in 1759, and seven others following over the next 10 years. Laurence Sterne (1713 - 1768) was an Irish-born English novelist and an Anglican clergyman.

    Theodore says: "A classic and a hoot"
    "The world's geatest shaggy dog tale"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If there was ever a book where the journey, not the destination, matters, it's "Tristram Shandy."

    Once you're prepared to step back into the 18th century, where things never were said in a short, straight-forward manner, and prepared to put yourself in the hands of a wry old joker and a superb narrator, however, you'll find this one of the finest audiobook experiences ever recorded. I am in awe of Peter Barker's achievement: there are dozens of passages where nothing remotely pronounceable-readable-sayable appears, and yet he always manages to convey the right message. I dearly wish I had a sound clip of his rendition of Mr. Walter Shandy's favorite oath ("G-g-g-g-g-ood GAWD!").

    I do not for a second regret setting aside my haste and allowing Mr. Sterne and Mr. Barker to take all the time they needed not to get to the point, and wholeheartedly recommend you do the same.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Hopkins Touch

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By David Roll
    • Narrated By Fleet Cooper
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    The Hopkins Touch offers the first portrait in over two decades of the most powerful man in Roosevelt's administration. David Roll shows how Harry Hopkins, an Iowa-born social worker who had been an integral part of the New Deal's implementation, became the linchpin in FDR's - and America's - relationships with Churchill and Stalin, and spoke with an authority second only to the president's.

    BB says: "Great story undermined by a shallow narrator"
    "Great story undermined by a shallow narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read or listened to all the major FDR biographies, including Robert Sherwood's great "Roosevelt and Hopkins" and was really looking forward to this book, the first major Hopkins biography in over a dozen years. And it is a very good book, one I will probably end up reading. I say that because Fleet Cooper's voice is completely inappropriate for this material. He sounds like a snide, spoiled, would-be wisecracker, one who wants to put a sly spin on every other line ... which is something totally unnecessary and even unwelcome in a serious work of biography. I tolerated it for the first part, but had to quit after six hours. Very disappointing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 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
    Overall
    (766)
    Performance
    (626)
    Story
    (621)

    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"
    "Caro's magnificent biography continues"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Grover Gardner has been the perfect narrator throughout this series and this volume is no exception. This book covers Johnson's ambivalent attempt at running for the Presidency in 1960, his years of frustration as Vice President (going from the second most powerful man in Washington to being mocked by Kennedy staffers as "Rufus Cornpone"), and then his remarkable success in the months following Kennedy's assassination. For those who have followed Johnson through over two thousand pages of Caro's biography up to this point, the last two hundred pages serve as testament to the fact that this truly was a great man, if also a greatly flawed one. I listened to this immediately after finishing Caro's "The Power Broker," and one can see how Caro has matured as a writer. Both books are richly detailed portraits, but now Caro's viewpoint is far more nuanced and balanced. Even his sketches of John and Robert Kennedy demonstrate that Caro's greatest strength is his ability to reveal a man's character in depth--the good and the bad--without giving into the temptation to reduce it to a simplistic summary judgment. Yes, this is a long book that requires patience and commitment from a reader or listener, but I consider it one of those books that has profoundly enriched my life. May Caro live to finish this masterpiece!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Brothers, Rivals, Victors: Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership That Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jonathan W. Jordan
    • Narrated By William Hughes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (149)
    Performance
    (104)
    Story
    (103)

    Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, General George S. Patton, and General Omar N. Bradley engineered the Allied conquest that shattered Hitler’s hold over Europe. But they also shared an intricate web of relationships going back decades. In the cauldron of World War II, they found their prewar friendships complicated by shifting allegiances, jealousy, insecurity, patriotism, and ambition.

    aaron says: "The best tri-hero book in years!!"
    "Atrociously written"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I usually enjoy books about World War Two, and having read biographies of Eisenhower and Patton, was looking forward to listening to this. But Jordan's writing displays all the worst characteristics of an amateur attempting to apply cliched rules about colorful writing. Which means that a grin has to be sheepish, eyes to twinkle, etc. I finally gave up at minute 26, shortly after hearing Eisenhower described as "instinctively likable." Whose instinct? Eisenhower's? Other peoples'? Think about it a minute and you'll realize that this is an example of a writer grabbing a readily available adjective without considering its meaning. Jordan tells us that "The Army wanted Eisenhower to stay in the States and train men." The Army did, eh? Was this before or after the Army wanted a BLT for lunch? Coming after books by Max Hastings and Andrew Roberts--who actually know how to write vivid and correct prose--this book seemed like Wonder Bread after crusty and flavorful sourdough. Yuck.

    9 of 15 people found this review helpful

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