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Tad Davis

ratings
1605
REVIEWS
263
FOLLOWING
11
FOLLOWERS
2555
HELPFUL VOTES
3562

  • Roughing It: A Personal Narrative

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Norman Dietz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (139)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (48)

    "If there is any life that is happier than the life we led on our timber ranch, it must be the sort of life which I have not read of in books or experienced in person," wrote Mark Twain, and now you can share in that experience. The beloved American humorist spent seven years on a "pleasure trip" through the untamed wilderness of Nevada. Twain intended to spend three months touring silver mines, but the lure of rough terrain and comfortable clothes proved irresistible - as will this vibrant travelogue.

    Tad Davis says: "Hilarious"
    "Hilarious"
    Overall

    For some reason I missed "Roughing It" in my earlier attempts at reading all of Mark Twain. My loss: it's an absolutely hilarious journey, part factual reporting, part tall tale in the best western campfire tradition. (If you're familiar with the omitted "raft chapter" in "Huckleberry Finn," you know what to expect.) One of Twain's greatest strengths is his willingness to include himself among the objects of genial mockery. This is Mark Twain the Humorist at his best.

    I didn't find the problems with audio quality that others reported. I agree that Fraley's recording of "Huckleberry Finn" is a superior piece of work, but Norman Dietz does a great job on this one. He's droll, unassuming, loquacious, and endearing, and he adopts one of a variety of other voices at the drop of a hat. My one complaint would be a certain breathiness of delivery -- occasional rapid delivery punctuated by sharp intakes of breath. I think this is partly a matter of recording age and technology: I find that occurring less often on more recent audiobooks. In any case, for an audiobook that gave me this much pleasure, I have to give it five stars.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • The Aeneid

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Virgil
    • Narrated By David Collins
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    The masterpiece of Rome's greatest poet, Virgil's Aeneid has inspired generations of readers and holds a central place in Western literature. The epic tells the story of a group of refugees from the ruined city of Troy, whose attempts to reach a promised land in the West are continually frustrated by the hostile goddess Juno. Finally reaching Italy, their leader, Aeneas, is forced to fight a bitter war against the natives to establish the foundations from which Rome is destined to rise.

    Tad Davis says: "Great story, but...."
    "Great story, but...."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Loved the translation; loved the narrator. This is one of the best audio renditions of the poem I've heard. But for me, Aeneas remains a bit of a prig, and the poem subject to occasional digressions into sentimentality - something that is never true of Homer.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Adam Bede

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By George Eliot
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    George Eliot's first full-length novel is the moving, realistic portrait of three people troubled by unwise love. Adam Bede is a hardy young carpenter who cares for his aging mother. His one weakness is the woman he loves blindly: the trifling town beauty, Hetty Sorrel, who delights only in her baubles - and the delusion that the careless Captain Donnithorne may ask for her hand.

    Tad Davis says: "Country tragedy and country humor"
    "Country tragedy and country humor"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have a kind of love/hate relationship with George Eliot. On one hand, she writes beautifully crafted novels filled with interesting and solid characters. On the other hand, she's always interrupting her narrative to tell me how to think about it. She's forever reaching after generalizations, but many of them ring as false to me as the narrative itself rings true.

    Adam Bede is no exception. As a narrator, Eliot annoys me; as a narrative, the book is a graceful and moving story about life and love in a small village as the 18th century slides into the 19th. (Some of the dinner-table conversation revolves around Bony - Napoleon - and the threat he and the armies of France pose.)

    Adam is a carpenter who's in love with Hatty; but Hatty's head has been turned by Arthur, the son of the local squire. Arthur and Adam fight; Arthur goes off to join his regiment; Hatty decides to marry Adam after all; but as the day approaches, she discovers (in wonderfully elliptical Victorian prose) that she's pregnant.

    In some ways the book could have been written by Thomas Hardy. The ending is less grim than it would have been in Hardy's hands, and there is considerably more country-folkish humor throughout the book; but not everyone makes it through, and there is a kind of autumnal poignancy about the last moments.

    One of the more remarkable achievements in the book is the character Dinah, an early Methodist. Until the Conference forbids it, Dinah plays the unusual role of itinerant preacher. She's a gentle, loving, peaceful soul, and one of the few utterly believable persons of faith I've encountered in fiction.

    Nadia May is a comfortable narrator, reliable as a rock, and I very much enjoyed her performance.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • NIV Audio Bible (Dramatized)

    • UNABRIDGED (75 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Zondervan
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (123)
    Story
    (121)

    The New International Version of the Bible is today’s most popular modern-English translation. This digital download of the NIV Audio Bible, Dramatized brings the Bible to life with this true-to-text dramatization of the Old and New Testament. The fully orchestrated background enriches the text reading and enhances the total experience. Digitally engineered from start to finish, this audio Bible delivers an inspiring and uplifting encounter with the Word of God.

    Monet says: "Excellent narration but should be easier to search"
    "Good all-around production"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Agnostic and evil secular humanist that I am, I still spend hours every week reading the Bible - or listening to it on audiobook.

    Finding an audio version that I like has been a struggle. The versions with the best production values, like The Word of Promise, use translations I dislike because they tend to use "Biblish" - useful maybe if you can follow along with text and commentary, but not easy to follow as a form of audio storytelling. Translations I like better and think are more appropriate for listening - the NCV, the NLT, the CEB - have audio versions but not first-rate ones.

    Then there's this one: the dramatized NIV. It's right about in the middle in terms of both accessibility and production values. I don't recognize the actors - none of them credited anywhere I can see - with the exception of the actor who voices God, who I believe is Todd Busteed. But they're all good readers and are not afraid to express emotion. The music is excellent and never distracting. The translation is a bit formal but free enough to be comprehensible to a first-time listener.

    So, while it's not my ideal version, I think this is the best all-around audio Bible I've found.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Odyssey

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Homer, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Lombardo
    • Narrated By Stanley Lombardo, Susan Sarandon
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (64)

    The Odyssey tells of the heroic journey of Odysseus after the Trojan war. In his attempt to return home to Ithaca, this ancient hero is faced with obstacle after obstacle, mythic creature after mythic creature. This is an epic poem encompassing an epic journey as famous as it is classic. Translated by Stanley Lombardo.

    Vicki S. Towne says: "Fall in love with this new translation"
    "Earthy and immediate"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had just finished listening to Dan Stevens' remarkable reading of The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fitzgerald. But my Homer itch hadn't been fully scratched. For relief I turned to an old favorite - Stanley Lombardo reading his own translation of The Odyssey.

    Lombardo's version is equally remarkable, but in a very different way. Where Fitzgerald is stately and heroic ("lift the great song again"), Lombardo is earthy and immediate. Lombardo developed his version originally for public performance, and his reading reflects that: it's brisk, rhythmic, and varied.

    I don't read Greek, ancient or modern, and can't recommend one over the other in terms of accuracy. What I CAN say is that both are successful narrative poems in English, although they seem to be almost intentionally at opposite ends of the diction continuum.

    One of the things I enjoy about the Lombardo recording is that Susan Sarandon provides a brief synopsis of each book beforehand. Another thing I like is the musical theme that plays as each episode begins. I've heard people complain about the fact that it's the same theme each time; but to my way of thinking, that's an asset. It serves to set the mood and it ties together the various parts of this extremely varied work of literature.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Arkangel Shakespeare

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By William Shakespeare
    • Narrated By Frances Barber, Roger Allam, Alan Cox
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (5)

    Padua holds many suitors for the hand of fair Bianca, but Bianca may not be married until her spinster sister, Kate, is wed. Could any man be rash enough to take on Kate? The witty adventurer Petruchio undertakes the task. While he sets about transforming Kate from foul-tempered termagant to loving wife, young Lucentio and his clever servant, Tranio, plot to win Bianca.

    H. Chandler says: "Great performance, conflicted about storyline"
    "Problem play"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Taming of the Shrew is another early Shakespeare play, and it's one that makes me distinctly uncomfortable - maybe even more so than The Merchant of Venice, another "problem play."

    It is, in my opinion, a misogynistic play. The spirited Kate has a few moments of tenderness with her crazy husband Petruchio, but only after she's been starved, deprived of sleep, and forced to debase herself in front of others. (To his credit, he never actually hits her, but that's setting the bar pretty low.) Many productions try to get around the implications by making it all seem ironic, but I've never been able to find that irony in the text.

    (One of Shakespeare's fellow playwrights seemed to think the same thing, and wrote a sequel called The Tamer Tamed: Petruchio's second wife turns the tables on him.)

    Not much irony in this production either; it's played straight. The cast is, as usual, first-rate, although Frances Barber is sometimes a little too shrill as Kate; granted the character is described repeatedly as a shrew, but there's shrewishness that's funny and shrewishness that's just unpleasant.

    The other odd thing about the play is the appearance and disappearance of the "framing story" involving Christopher Sly. Shakespeare sets it up and then abandons it after a couple of scenes. Another play from the period provides a few other scenes with Sly, including an epilogue that neatly ties up the loose ends. Many recent productions, if they include the framing story at all, add these scenes. I suspect they were written by Shakespeare and intended to be part of the play, but Arkangel sticks to their guns (and their stated purpose) and omits them.

    Not one of the more satisfying entries in the series, but the fault is mostly Shakespeare's.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Alexander Pushkin, James E. Falen (translator)
    • Narrated By Raphael Corkhill
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Eugene Onegin is the master work of the poet whom Russians regard as the fountainhead of their literature. Set in 1820s imperial Russia, Pushkin's novel in verse follows the emotions and destiny of three men - Onegin the bored fop, Lensky the minor elegiast, and a stylized Pushkin himself - and the fates and affections of three women - Tatyana the provincial beauty, her sister Olga, and Pushkin's mercurial Muse.

    Tad Davis says: "A delight"
    "A delight"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Eugene Onegin is a "novel in verse - the whole of it written in a series of 14-line verses with an unusually complex rhyme scheme. Falen's translation tries to reproduce the scheme in English. This isn't an easy task - English being notoriously short on rhymes - but he succeeds to an extent I wouldn't have thought possible. The syntax isn't distorted, and the rhymes click into place reliably and gracefully.

    The rhymes are a big part of the pleasure of listening to this (although Raphael Corkhill's narration sometimes emphasizes line endings more than I would have preferred). Even if you don't try to explicitly follow the scheme, you will begin to intuit it and eagerly anticipate the next rhyme. That this doesn't distract from comprehension of the story testifies to the clarity and lucid simplicity of both story and verse.

    It's a straightforward, sad story about friendship, love, loss, and regret. I'd read it years ago for a literature class, but I think the translation was a dud; it didn't make much of an impression. This time around, the novel was a pure delight.

    If you give it a try, watch for the almost psychedelic description of a young woman's nightmare.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Suzanne M. Desan
    Overall
    (245)
    Performance
    (212)
    Story
    (210)

    The 25 years between the onset of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Bourbon Restoration after Napoleon in 1814 is an astonishing period in world history. This era shook the foundations of the old world and marked a permanent shift for politics, religion, and society - not just for France, but for all of Europe. An account of the events alone reads like something out of a thrilling novel.

    Monte Johnston says: "Such a great balance of the big picture and detail"
    "Clear and engaging"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Professor Desan is a clear and engaging guide to this crucial period of European history. It's a bit unusual for a book or course to cover both the Revolution and Napoleon, but it's hard to argue with the results as she traces the cause and effect relationships. My interest is only partly historical; I was looking also for something that would help fill in the context for the political and military struggles that play such a major role in 19th century European fiction. (Not to mention Richard Sharpe and Jack Aubrey.) This does that beautifully.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Robert Fitzgerald
    • Narrated By Dan Stevens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (41)

    Robert Fitzgerald's translation of The Odyssey has been the standard translation for more than three generations of students and poets. Macmillan Audio is delighted to publish the first ever audio edition of this classic work, the greatest of all epic poems. Fitzgerald's supple verse is ideally suited for audio, recounting the story of Odysseus' long journey back to his wife and home after the Trojan War. Homer's tale of love, adventure, food and drink, sensual pleasure, and mortal danger reaches the English-language listener in all its glory.

    Tad Davis says: "Another beauty"
    "Another beauty"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Everything I said about Stevens' reading of The Iliad is true for this one, and then some. It's a nearly perfect marriage of translator and narrator. (Homer's not half bad either.)

    The structure of The Odyssey is a wonder: multiple layers, multiple points of view, all of it flowing forth effortlessly.

    Fitzgerald's translation of The Odyssey was my first contact with Homer. There are other translations that are more accurate, on a line by line basis; but few that throw off as many sparks of compact beauty.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Bart D. Ehrman
    • Narrated By Professor Bart D. Ehrman
    Overall
    (100)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (84)

    Step back to Christianity's first three centuries to see how it transitioned from the religion of Jesus to a religion about Jesus. How did a single group from among many win the struggle for dominance to establish the beliefs central to the faith, rewrite the history of Christianity's internal conflicts, and produce a canon of sacred texts – the New Testament – that supported its own views?

    Ahmedinejad says: "An Objective History of Early Christianity"
    "Ideas, not people"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bart Ehrman is spot on as usual. The advantage of listening to his lectures rather than to someone else narrating his book is hearing the author's own voice. Ehrman is enthusiastic and engaging; he sounds like he's speaking off the cuff rather than reading a script; and he's able to present complex material in a clear and systematic way. It's important to note, however, that this lecture series is a history of early Christian IDEAS rather than early Christian people. There are a number of people discussed, of course - people like Tertullian, Ignatius, and Origen - but the lectures are far more topical than chronological.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Napoleon: A Life

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Andrew Roberts
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (379)
    Performance
    (335)
    Story
    (333)

    Andrew Roberts' Napoleon is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon's thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation. At last we see him as he was: protean multitasker, decisive, surprisingly willing to forgive his enemies and his errant wife Josephine.

    Tad Davis says: "What a dynamo!"
    "What a dynamo!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    My interest in Napoleon was sparked a few years ago by the adventures of Richard Sharpe and the Aubrey/Maturin series. After re-reading War and Peace, I decided I had to learn more about the background. Since then, I've listened to a number of audiobooks about Napoleon (a surprising number of them narrated by John Lee).

    I had also previously read Andrew Roberts' history of the Second World War, The Storm of War, and was impressed by his writing and the organization of the narrative. The same qualities are in evidence here. We follow Napoleon from his early days on Corsica to military school in France, to Italy, to Egypt, to Spain, and to Russia. The whole of Europe became his battlefield.

    As in The Storm of War, Roberts includes a generous helping of political history too. Napoleon scattered constitutions around Europe like travel brochures. He codified and exported laws that embodied at least some of the ideals of the French Revolution. (Roberts, however, notes that the liberal tendencies of the famed Napoleonic code were blunted by its persistent sexism: all men might be equal under the law, but women need not apply.)

    The man himself was an interesting combination of engaging and repellent traits. He was a bully, certainly - and a butcher - but he also had an insatiable thirst for knowledge: if a dinner guest had specialized knowledge, he would pepper him with questions and take notes. He was never afraid to say "I don't know" in response to a particular question; but he would always try to find out. He was always in motion. He consumed his meals in 10 minutes, and his lovemaking was likely to be equally hurried.

    Napoleon's spectacular rise is matched by his equally spectacular fall. His story has an inherently dramatic shape, and that comes through in this mostly chronological account.

    John Lee is, as always, a rapid and enthusiastic narrator. And also as always with this type of material on audio, I found myself reaching for supplementary maps and diagrams in Wikipedia. I do wish PDF supplements were standard for this type of book on Audible, and that they were easily accessible through the mobile app.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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