Kempton, PA | Member Since 2010
Very different from "Unbroken." You know from the start that it will end in disaster for the Australian commandos and it's very sad and difficult to listen to how events played out. The print version got great reviews, but for me this was just too tough a listen. The accent of the narrator seems completely British to my ear, which didn't seem to really fit the story.
Normally, I find Doris Kearns Goodwin books among the best in historical biography, but this one didn't do it for me. William Taft, decent man and talented jurist that he was, doesn't provide engaging material for a sweeping history. Theodore Roosevelt (I get the hint and won't call him "Teddy") could hold my interest more, but in an annoying, frustrating type of way, As assistant secretary of the Navy, deceived his superior into taking an extended vacation so he could essentially set up a war, snapping up a leading role that propelled him into the oval office. Admittedly, TR bravely led his Rough Riders, but I couldn't help feeling sorry for the men once back home, in quarantine, recovering from Yellow Fever while Roosevelt boasts, "I had a bully war!" I would constantly doze off upon listening to the intricacies of the literary forays and social lives of the Mrs. Taft and Roosevelt. Through the biographies of the McClure's magazine writers I would slumber, only to awaken hours later to find myself in the Philippines with stodgy Mr. Taft and his wife who wore (gasp!) short skirts. I can't pinpoint the precise point in this mountain of details that I ended up liking TR less than before listening to the book. He was, after all, a good president, first rate conservationist, and skilled politician, and deserves his place on Mount Rushmore. Undoubtedly he was a fascinating individual, but I will promote this audiobook as the best non prescription sleep aid one could want, with no harmful side effects.
Much more than a biography of Lincoln's killer. A panorama of mid-19th century America through the lives of the famous, brilliant but flawed acting family, the Booths. In the 1820's, Shakespearean actor Junius Brutus Booth flees his wife and baby in England for a new life in America with his mistress, a Covet Garden flower seller. Hidden away in the Maryland woods, she bears him ten children while Junius works as a travelling actor, alternately earning and drinking away the family's fortunes. The results resonate through history to the present day.
Nora Titone presents previously researched facts in an engaging style that reads like a novel, or a Shakespearean tragedy. As noted by other reviewers, the book slows down towards its inevitable conclusion and Lincoln's assassination. I believe this is because facts become thin, and the book is, above all, a historical record. History will probably never reveal precisely what John Wilke's interactions with his Confederate handlers were and what Wilkes initiated based upon his own whims. To attempt to discern to what degree subsequent events resulted from sibling rivalry versus Confederate sympathies is simply impossible. The author cannot explore John Wilke's deepest motivations. They are forever lost to history. What John Wilkes did during the winter and early spring of 1864-1865 is still a mystery and forever eclipsed by his calamitous actions on April 14, 1865. Play acting, demonstrating passionate Confederate sympathies, or simply seething with jealousy, John Wilkes forever upstaged the rest of his acting family.
Until recently, a long ago but decidedly substandard curriculum I'd had to study American history, with its deadly dull textbooks, relegated Lewis and Clark to little more than historical cardboard cut-outs. Stephen Ambrose brought the great explorers and their journey to life. Ambrose emphasizes the complete loyalty between the captains - Lewis refused to consider his fellow explorer anything else but a captain, despite a lowered army rank and official snub of Clark - and how they motivated, inspired and controlled the Corps of Discovery through thousands of miles of wilderness. With few exceptions, Lewis and Clark knew when to push forward, and when to turn back. They knew when to discipline and when to allow the men "a dram." The contributions of Sacajawea, and the Mandan and Nez Perce Indians were far braver and more critical to expedition’s success than the history books describe. Best of all is how Ambrose's vivid description of events, large and small, that make the listener feel as if they are watching the party from the other side of the riverbank. Grizzly bears die hard hours after multiple gunshots; Lewis shoots Class 5 rapids on the Columbia river in a dugout canoe; the medicines and careful treatments dispensed by the leaders, who had no physician along; and the agonizingly slow and laborious process of pulling three fully loaded boats upstream the shallow Missouri River. At the end of the story, you wonder, along with Ambrose, what Lewis was looking Westward for in those last moments of despair along the Natchez Trace. Capably narrated by Barrett Whitener, this ranks as one of the best audiobooks I have listened to from among dozens. I also recommend the National Geographic Documentary on Lewis and Clark, as well as Bernard DeVoto's "The Journals of Lewis and Clark" for the reader who wants to further immerse themself in one of the greatest explorations of American history.
First class biography as well as a case study of the benefits of self-improvement and the mastery of one's emotions. I knew the facts of Lincoln's presidency, but not the mind and motivations of the man behind it. Goodwin goes deep into the backrounds of not only Lincoln but all four of the main characters to find why they acted as they did. Lincoln, by far the most deprived in social status and formal education, had the ability to tackle seemingly impossible issues calmly and rationally. Goodwin builds a convincing case for Lincoln as the greatest American. I didn't want this book to end and had to fast forward over Good Friday, 1865. Suzanne Toren provides a no-nonsense, concise narration.
Very graphic and not for everyone. Occasionally I'd have to switch the iPod to lighter listening, only to find it insipid, long for this horribly graphic, incredibly sad story and switch it back again.
This is one of many tragedies of 2001 that was totally eclipsed and further complicated by 9/11.
There is an interactive map and a few photos if you google the book title, as well as a National Geographic article available on the internet about one of the wildlife areas mentioned that I found to be excellent companions to this book. I wish this type of material was included as a PDF download in more audiobooks that have so much to do with a place.
There is also an afterward, consisting of an interview with the author and acknowledgements that gave additional context after the book.
In the top 10
Interpretation of how comrades in arms in the Revolution became bitter enemies in the early republic, yet managed to lay a solid foundation of government while tearing each other's reputations to shreds. How their strengths, flaws and relationships (for they knew each other personally) created much of the framework of who we are as Americans. How history is interpreted vs. what the people who lived it actually experienced. This book is much more than a biography or a chronology of events.
His narration of the letters between Jefferson and Adams late in life - particularly his narration of John Adams - added emotional nuance essential to understanding how the major rift of the early republic (strong vs. minimal central government) came to be and how it nearly destroyed what so many fought to create.
No - you need time to absorb the subtle inferences of the writing. I also undertook a review of the biographies of the Founding Fathers for better backround. Basic biographical facts are not covered.
The narration and writing of the Jefferson-Adams correspondance is breathtaking. I pictured a bare stage with the two men and heard the dialog as well as picked up on their temperments. Like another reviewer, I felt that Hamilton's contributions were not valued by the author, unlike those of Jefferson, Madison and Adams. He is presented as a mere protege and shadow of Washington. I tend to think Hamilton gets the short shrift from historians because Jefferson, Madison,and Adams, all very capable writers, not only disliked him but also outlived him by many years. Hamilton left a prolific correspondence, but it ended with the duel in 1804. He wasn't around to defend himself, and as Ellis reminds us, history includes a generous amount of "spin."
History comes alive
Today's polarized policitcal climate is mild compared to the presidential years of the Founding Father's
Extremely well researched. He is the father of our capitalist economy and created modern financial systems that endure to this day. I am in awe of his achievements.
Filled with first person accounts, diariy excerpts, quotes and narrated beautifully. If you liked "Unbroken" here is another fantastic listen. British adverture explorers in the finest tradition and an enlightening account of some of the best leadership skills you will ever encounter. Highly recommend.
A highly readable version of the events of the 9-11 report with more skilled character development than much of popular fiction. My only problem was keeping the arabic names and minor players straight.
This is my first listen of the series. It seemed a little flat and overly detailed about courtroom and legal procedures. The narration was a dry-as-dust reading so wooden that I needed to pull over at the truck stop for quick snoozes. All this goes to prove that my stints of jury duty were on the mark, and being in court, unless you are a lawyer, judge, or defendant, is about as stimulating as a non prescription sleep aid. The defendant is totally unlikeable, though, which added to the characterization and Haller will do anything to win a case. The ending was a great plot twist but things do bog down in the middle. I'll try a Bosch book next.
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