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L. Lyter

Runner, Commuter, Dietitian with a passion for U.S. History.

Kempton, PA | Member Since 2010

65
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 36 reviews
  • 59 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 9 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
1

  • The Widow and Her Hero

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Tom Keneally
    • Narrated By Beverley Dunn, David Tredinnick
    Overall
    (92)
    Performance
    (68)
    Story
    (67)

    When Grace married Captain Leo Waterhouse in Australia in 1943, they were young, in love - and at war. Like many other young men and women, they were ready, willing and able to put the war effort first. They never seriously doubted that they would come through unscathed. But Leo never returned from a commando mission masterminded by his own hero figure, an eccentric and charismatic man who inspired total loyalty from those under his command.

    Jan says: "Summary misleading."
    "Definately not "Unbroken""
    Overall

    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.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • 1776

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By David McCullough
    • Narrated By David McCullough
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4425)
    Performance
    (1633)
    Story
    (1640)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: If you ever thought history was boring, David McCullough’s performance of his fascinating book will change your mind. In this stirring audiobook, McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence, when the whole American cause was riding on their success.

    Mark says: "Front Seat on History"
    "Great history, great narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    David McCullough is one of the great American history authors of our time, but I had no idea of his skills as a narrator. Sympathetic portrayal of Washington's early days in the Revolutionary war. McCullough does not gloss over the bad decisions but his reading provides a nuanced portrait of Washington's and the Continental Army's weaknesses as well as how they learned from them. Terrific experience that kept me on the edge of my seat, even though I knew all of the outcomes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Orphan Train: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Christina Baker Kline
    • Narrated By Jessica Almasy, Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2979)
    Performance
    (2646)
    Story
    (2644)

    Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to "aging out" out of the foster care system. A community-service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse.... As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

    Susan says: "Fascinating Journey for Two"
    "Runaway Train"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Starts out promisingly enough with depiction of an emigrant Irish family's disaster followed by eldest daughter Niamh's trip to Minnesota on what must have been one of the final orphan trains, in 1929. The depiction of the children, the train and the "adoption stops” seem authentic and kept my interest. The book uses the popular device of swinging back and forth between two characters - modern day foster child Molly and present day Vivian, now 91, nee Niamh. Molly's story line is far weaker. Molly is assigned community service for stealing a library book - an old, tattered paperback copy of Jane Eyre, not pinching "World of Warcraft" from Walmart, so as not to frighten sensitive readers. Molly's community service is to help Vivian sort old boxes in a large, roomy attic in a house on a Maine island that surely seems familiar to any reader of modern American fiction. The portrayal of Molly's foster mom is a complete caricature that annoyingly makes the author's bias crystal clear. For example, while I personally support Vegetarianism, I found myself rooting for the evil Foster mom to sling a T-bone steak in Molly's lunch bag. I strongly recommend ditching this book before Vivian grows to adulthood to avoid some of the most improbable plot twists in modern fiction. Certainly you want to bail before the final chapters. If the book went any further, elderly Vivian and young Molly would be posting selfies on Instagram. While the author appears engaged in the actual orphan train segments early in the book, she seemed to lose interest as the plot progressed, stringing together one wild coincidence after another until grinding to a neatly resolved, predictable halt. Narrations, I think, were supposed to be Irish accents but they were often too muddled to fully assess. Many a native Minnesotan is caught with a bit of the brogue, except for poor Mr. Sorensen's incomprehensible dialect from somewhere in the land of Evil Adults. The book piqued my interest in the topic, however, and if I ever make it to Kansas, the Orphan Train museum in Concordia is on my bucket list.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Peter Stark
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (30)

    At a time when the edge of American settlement barely reached beyond the Appalachian Mountains, two visionaries, President Thomas Jefferson and millionaire John Jacob Astor, foresaw that one day the Pacific would dominate world trade as much as the Atlantic did in their day. Just two years after the Lewis and Clark expedition concluded in 1806, Jefferson and Astor turned their sights westward once again. Thus began one of history's dramatic but largely forgotten turning points in the conquest of the North American continent.

    L. Lyter says: "Lost History, Found"
    "Lost History, Found"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    On the eve of the War of 1812, John Jacob Astor assembled French and Scots Canadian fur traders with American explorers and seamen for two advance parties for a grand plan: obtain fabulous wealth from the Sea Otter fur trade with China, and found the first American settlement on the Northwest Pacific Coast. The seagoing party is led by the aptly named stickler for discipline, Captain Thorn. The overland party, just two years after the Lewis and Clark expedition, is led by a genial, non-confrontational New Jersey man with limited wilderness experience. While the reader can surmise from these facts the final result from the clash of native and European cultures and governments, this remains an utterly fascinating book about a historical failure that later triumphs due to the discovery of the overland path back East that was to become the Oregon Trail. Like the vast majority of Americans, I had not heard of the lead ship, the Tonquin, and knew the Astoria only as a New York hotel. The only Astor I had heard of was the one who went down with the Titanic (actually a direct descendant.) I was fascinated to learn about the sometimes exotic and often violent events during early exploration and settlement of the Columbia River Mouth: the unfortunate slap that led to a massacre and explosion; native Hawaiians in the dark, damp Oregon woods, and a brave Native American woman, Marie Dorian, who survived greater challenges than the famous Sacajawea of Lewis and Clark expedition fame. Thoroughly researched and engagingly told, this is a wonderful book that reads like a thriller. Highly recommend.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Doris Kearns Goodwin
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (622)
    Performance
    (551)
    Story
    (549)

    Goodwin describes the broken friendship between Teddy Roosevelt and his chosen successor, William Howard Taft. With the help of the "muckraking" press, Roosevelt had wielded the Bully Pulpit to challenge and triumph over abusive monopolies, political bosses, and corrupting money brokers. Roosevelt led a revolution that he bequeathed to Taft only to see it compromised as Taft surrendered to money men and big business. The rupture led Roosevelt to run against Taft for president, an ultimately futile race that gave power away to the Democrats.

    Cynthia says: "Makes You Forget You Live in the 21st Century Good"
    "So I had this insomnia problem"
    Overall
    Performance
    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Nora Titone, Doris Kearns Goodwin (introduction and notes)
    • Narrated By John B. Lloyd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (82)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (46)

    My Thoughts Be Bloody, a sweeping family saga, revives an extraordinary figure whose name has been missing, until now, from the story of President Lincoln's death. Edwin Booth, John Wilkes's older brother by four years, was in his day the biggest star of the American stage. Without an account of Edwin Booth, author Nora Titone argues, the real story of Lincoln's assassin has never been told.

    Tad Davis says: "Wonderful!"
    "Sibling Rivalry Meets the Civil War"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Undaunted Courage

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Stephen E. Ambrose
    • Narrated By Barrett Whitener
    Overall
    (1034)
    Performance
    (393)
    Story
    (398)

    In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson selected his personal secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, to lead a voyage up the Missouri River, across the forbidding Rockies, and - by way of the Snake and the Columbia rivers - down to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and his partner, Captain William Clark, endured incredible hardships and witnessed astounding sights. With great perseverance, they worked their way into an unexplored West. When they returned two years later, they had long since been given up for dead.

    Christopher says: "Great detail about this historical event..."
    "Lessons in Leadership"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Doris Kearns Goodwin
    • Narrated By Suzanne Toren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1407)
    Performance
    (1177)
    Story
    (1206)

    On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry. Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war.

    Jeremiah Duncan says: "Beautiful, Heartbreaking, and Informative"
    "EQ from the 19th Century"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Devil's Highway: A True Story

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Luis Alberto Urrea
    • Narrated By Luis Alberto Urrea
    Overall
    (90)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (77)

    The author of Across the Wire offers brilliant investigative reporting of what went wrong when, in May 2001, a group of 26 men attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona. Only 12 men came back out.

    Arthur says: "Not that great"
    "Part Death Physiology, Part Tragic Poem"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Joseph J. Ellis
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (636)
    Performance
    (186)
    Story
    (177)

    A New York Times best seller, Founding Brothers is an engrossing work of nonfiction from National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph J. Ellis. It is a book that uncovers the substance behind many of our most cherished historical tales. Here are six fascinating, well-researched chapters involving such icons as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

    Vernon says: "Remarkably moving book"
    "Creating a Country Despite Incredible Odds"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Founding Brothers rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    In the top 10


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What about Nelson Runger???s performance did you like?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alexander Hamilton

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Ron Chernow
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (1104)
    Performance
    (354)
    Story
    (353)

    Ron Chernow, whom the New York Times called "as elegant an architect of monumental histories as we've seen in decades", now brings to startling life the man who was arguably the most important figure in American history, who never attained the presidency, but who had a far more lasting impact than many who did.

    Robert says: "Captivating & Fluid Bio Unique American immigrant"
    "Magnificent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Alexander Hamilton in three words, what would they be?

    History comes alive


    Which character ??? as performed by Scott Brick ??? was your favorite?

    Alexander Hamilton


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Today's polarized policitcal climate is mild compared to the presidential years of the Founding Father's


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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