Two things are remarkable about this audio book.
The first is the quality of the content. Hitchens' mind, evidently, possessed a voracious curiosity, an enormous capacity, and the gift of incisive synthesis. Additionally, he had the ability to articulate this combination with precision and delight.
The second is the rare, to me, ability of the narrator to match the clarity of the prose. He makes no attempt to clarify meaning, merely and intelligently allowing it to come through in the phrasing of the writer's sentences and the shapes of his paragraphs. The result is the clear emergence of both sense and the author's voice.
The listener is very fortunate to find both at once.
The author's scholarship and style is commendable. His book is an insightful, moving, and detailed account of these great moments in world history. But it is history. And history is linked to geography. The narrator phrases clearly but too often leaves you with no idea where these events take place because the proper pronunciation of too many of these foreign place names escapes him entirely. This production is sinfully sloppy. Do listen to the book, but check with a map and an audible source of foreign place names or your friends will laugh should you discuss what you've learned. And you will learn a lot.
I don't believe I've used five stars across the board before, but whatever quibbles would barely knock a point off any. Not only is this scandalously funny, I mean Rabelaisian, but it is delightfully allusive, irreverent, and clever to the point of adding not only wit but insight to Lear no matter how well you think you know the play. Too, I'm rarely fond of narrators making funny voices, but Morton dares and nails the characters, to my mind's eye. Plus he does sardonic marvelously well. Should I ever get a chance to direct Lear, Moore and Morton have given me some wonderful ideas.
Potter's scholarship and breadth of reference is informative and extensive. The book spends more time on detailed critical considerations of the works, including the poems, than on the life but brings contemporary lenses to both. Unfortunately, the narrator emphasizes all the academic qualities of the prose with an overly enunciated, staccato reading that sounds just short of robotic, except when he is reading from the works, when his phrasing, remarkably, often becomes smooth and coherent. Quotes, too, are in a range of arbitrary accents that distract. He appears to have no acquaintance with the period at all, which results in pronunciations - shire rhyming with fire, Henslowe with now, Navarre in three syllables, etc.- that can only be generously called not standard. And "roman a clef" as "Roman ah cleff" is simply hilarious. The production is poor. You will learn more about Shkspr. You will work hard to do so.
Jobs' life is a fascinating story, particularly if you're curious about technology. But there's a great deal more than high tech, and Isaacson covers it all efficiently, although other sources hint that he presents a slightly more generous view of Jobs than others might have. His access to Jobs' family is intimate, but time may tell whether it colored an admiring portrait.
The reader has three problems.He occasionally mispronounces common words and some names, so you stop listening for a second to mentally correct what you've heard. He also seems to think he has to make the copy interesting, so it's often as if you're listening to something written with sudden ALL CAPS. Third, he's rarely able to quote someone talking without making them sound as if he or she is whinning. I found I was creating an opinion of a person from how he sounded, not from what he said. When I went back and repeated the quote to myself, I found its effect could be very different. No doubt Jobs and Eisner and Ellison, et. al., could complain, but surely they could be simply declarative more often.
He does not, fortunately, get so between you and the book as to prevent both following it and enjoying the content. Given the impact of Jobs on our culture and the details of his story, this is a biography well worth reading.
This is a valuable, albeit basically Eurocentric, history, that goes into sufficient detail to allow you feel familar with each epoch. So far, it has avoided any overtly political agendas and over speculation.
Had I know the reader was David Case, however, I would never have purchased it. For this book he uses a pseudonym, but his flaws remain.He is such a lazy, apparently undirected or produced - certainly uncorrected - reader that I swore never to listen to him again. Some may mistake his accent for a sign of literacy, but to call his pronunciations "non-standard" is generous, whether one looks for them in British or American usage. Further, he seems often unable to distinguish between a comma and a full stop, leaving a closely listening reader to repeat the sentence in the mind, adjusting the dependancy of clauses simply to make sense of what one has just heard.
While I recommend what Roberts has to say, I find myself irritatingly distracted by who is saying it. Buy the book, but be prepared to work far harder at listening than a competent reader would permit.
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