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Ross Bennett


  • The Modern Scholar: Ideas that Shaped Mankind

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

    Ideas That Shaped Mankind flows from internationally respected historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto's views on the notion that man's capacity to produce ideas in itself brings about sweeping changes in the world. This ability, seen most profoundly in individual, startling moments of genius - or equally startling moments of chance - is what separates humans from the animals and allows humans to re-imagine the world in ever more complex designs.

    Ross Bennett says: "Brilliant survey of human thought"
    "Brilliant survey of human thought"
    Would you listen to The Modern Scholar again? Why?

    I've enjoyed many Modern Scholar series books, and I did enjoy this one more than once. This is one of the best Modern Scholar books there is.

    Which character – as performed by the narrator – was your favorite?

    Professor Filipe Fernandez-Armesto

    Any additional comments?

    Okay, I grant that Professor Fernandez-Armesto has a wonderfully distinctive speaking and lecturing style, but it's actually quite marvelous.

    Have you ever watched The West Wing and caught the character of Lord John Marbury as played by Rick Rees? There are times you'll swear Lord Marbury was inspired and modeled after Professor Fernandez-Armesto—not only in mannerisms but in brilliant insight, perception, and talent to get straight to the heart of an idea. So if you find the speaking style a bit disorienting at first, think of John Marbury delivering it and you might even find yourself smiling. Soon the ideas themselves will shine through, and they will kindle your imagination and sense of wonder sufficiently you won't even remember you noticed anything out of your experience.

    Truly one of the finest Modern Scholar books ever recorded. Only Professor Drout's are in the same league.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Ancient Guide to Modern Life

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Natalie Haynes
    • Narrated By Kim Hicks
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It's time for us to re-examine the past. Our lives are infinitely richer if we take the time to look at what the Greeks and Romans have given us in politics and law, religion and philosophy and education, and to learn how people really lived in Athens, Rome, Sparta, and Alexandria. This is a book with a serious point to make, but the author isn't simply a classicist but a comedian and broadcaster who has made television and radio documentaries about humour, education, and Dorothy Parker. This is a book for us all. Whether political, cultural or social, there are endless parallels between the ancient and modern worlds.

    Sean says: "Flawed recording"
    "Brilliant book, abysmal performance"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Correct pronunciation. A substantial portion of the proper names or classical terms are mispronounced. And that's not the usual sort of "well, in medieval days the pronunciation changed to…." No. The reader doesn't come anywhere close. If there's a single line of text every beginning Latin student knows, it's "Caecilius est in horto." To any Classicist or Radio 4 listener, it's as well-known as "Use the Force, Luke!" Well…"Caecilius" here is pronounced like "Cecil." Only minutes later you start to realize who's being talked about.

    What did you like best about this story?

    The kindle edition. I suspect I'd have enjoyed the print edition, too.

    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kim Hicks?

    Anyone with a passing familiarity with the most familiar names in Classical Studies. It's a shame Natalie Hayes herself couldn't arrange to do it. She's a splendid broadcaster.

    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Ancient Guide to Modern Life?

    None from the text—all of them from the production.

    Any additional comments?

    Avoid this unless your sight is impaired and text-to-speech isn't available on your reader.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what.

    Cynthia says: "Shadows Dissolved in Vinegar"
    "Gaiman excels himself."
    Who was your favorite character and why?

    When it comes to the Hempstocks, picking a favorite would be like trying to pick a favorite child or kitten. You just don't try, though you might sit and marvel at how they differ from one another or how much they are alike.

    Have you listened to any of Neil Gaiman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Sometimes other readers bring a wonderful new aspect to a story. [Try Christina Pickles' reading of "Chivalry" from Selected Shorts or Lenny Henry's reading of "Anansi Boys."] But there are times when Neil is the best one to read his stories. His voice is comforting and gentle, even when the character he's reading is being matter-of-fact or coming to terrible realizations.

    It's a funny thing to say that one story or another is more personal to an author. Any story well made is very much its authors, no matter how fantastic and far from autobiographical. This time it seems to be more intimate; that while this isn't autobiographical there's a lot of Neil's own character poured into this narrator.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I'm nearly fifty years old and I don't remember being scared by a book since I was very young. I've been anxious, enthralled, aching with suspense, burning with anticipation, or worried for a character I really liked, but never actually scared. Until this one.

    This book scared me. Not because the images of the story felt threatening, but because it made me stop in a public place, look around me, and realize in a vivid way that the world is not always a good place.

    It's in a good way—a constructive way. The very best way, because it shares a bit of wisdom and puts you on your guard against it. It's the same kind of fear as you might have of dragons, if you were afraid of dragons, and if you'd also heard Neil tell you G. K. Chesterton's ideas about how dragons can be beaten.

    There are no dragons in this book. Not exactly. But maybe more horrible than dragons are the smallest terrors; the almost innocent ones.

    Any additional comments?

    There are people who like some of Neil Gaiman's works more than others. Not because the stories are better or worse, but because they're about different sorts of things. Some lean more towards "American Gods" while others are more eager for "Stardust." Still others will like Neil's episodes of "Doctor Who" best, and some will have complete collections of "Sandman" or know by heart which short stories are in which of his collections. [It's hard to think of any authors who have been as successfully prolific in so many different ways.]

    What's special about "Ocean at the End of the Lane" is that it will be a book which is best loved by all the different kinds of Neil Gaiman fans. It has the essence that is the best of all his forms, yet is entirely new and takes us to wonderful new places. His craft is the best it has ever been.

    21 of 37 people found this review helpful

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