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Tad Davis

ratings
1600
REVIEWS
260
FOLLOWING
11
FOLLOWERS
2562
HELPFUL VOTES
3492

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Jules Verne
    • Narrated By David Case, Frederick Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (134)
    Performance
    (87)
    Story
    (92)

    The year 1866 was marked by a unique incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, and rumors agitated the maritime population and excited the public mind, especially seafaring men. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels, skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and the governments of several states on the two continents, were deeply interested in the matter.

    Tad Davis says: "Lousy translation"
    "Lousy translation"
    Overall

    (It should be noted, to begin with, that the narrator of this version is Frederick Davidson, NOT Alfred Molina.) It's not Frederick Davidson's fault, but the translation chosen here is the worst of many Victorian hatchet jobs that were done on Verne's prose. For example, in the second chapter, the narrator speaks of returning "from the disagreeable territory of Nebraska." What Verne really said was "from the Badlands of Nebraska." About 25% of the original novel is missing in this translation, sometimes suppressing Verne's politics; Verne's careful calculations are recalculated in slapdash fashion; and mistranslations abound. (In one chapter Captain Nemo refers to a small island which he "would have jumped over" if he could. In Verne's original, he says which he "would have blown up" if he could.) You will get a LITTLE something of Verne in this, and it may remain an entertaining story, but it's not the real thing. Unfortunately, all other unabridged recordings I'm aware of use the same translation.

    36 of 38 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
    (157)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (62)

    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.

    0 of 0 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
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (4)

    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
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    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.

    0 of 0 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
    (231)
    Performance
    (201)
    Story
    (199)

    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
    (38)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (36)

    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.

    tzintzuntzan says: "Fantastic performance"
    "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.

    0 of 0 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
    (96)
    Performance
    (83)
    Story
    (82)

    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
    (269)
    Performance
    (234)
    Story
    (232)

    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.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Resolute Determination: Napoleon and the French Empire

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Donald M.G. Sutherland
    • Narrated By Donald M.G. Sutherland
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (13)

    In these lectures, Professor Donald M.G. Sutherland explores the life and times of Napoleon, one of history's most brilliant strategic thinkers. But despite his inarguable brilliance, Napoleon has also been denounced as unscrupulously ambitious and as alone responsible for the wars that bear his name. With his scholarly eye, Professor Sutherland imparts a fuller understanding of this polarizing figure and deftly shows how Napoleon fit into the sweep of history - and how he helped to define it.

    Tad Davis says: "Great storyteller"
    "Great storyteller"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Donald MG Sutherland is a great storyteller, although his voice is a bit unprepossessing. He takes us step by step through Napoleon's career, from the island of Corsica to the island of St Helena. The military and political campaigns are described clearly (although I have to admit I'm still a little foggy about the various German and Austrian campaigns). If you want a good overview of Napoleon before digging deeper into some of the other audiobooks on the subject, this is a good place to begin.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Napoleon

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Paul Johnson
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (93)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    Paul Johnson's book is a refreshing return to a concept whose time has come once again: the Great Man theory of biography. It serves as "the greatest possible refutation of those who hold that events are governed by forces, classes, economics, and geography rather than the powerful wills of men and women". Napoleon truly was the Great Man of his age, a towering and terrible genius who managed to conquer the Continent.

    Mark Grannis says: "Not your standard biography"
    "Doesn't like Napoleon very much"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Paul Johnson is a trenchant critic of dictators in general and Napoleon in particular. I'm reading other, more favorably disposed, biographies at the same time; Johnson is a useful corrective. The man who brought the ideals of the French Revolution to much of the continent of Europe was also the man who repeatedly deserted his troops in a crisis and was responsible, directly or indirectly, for the deaths of millions.

    John Lee gives his usual clear and energetic interpretation. He seems to have become the go-to guy for biographies of Napoleon.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Man in the Iron Mask

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Alexandre Dumas
    • Narrated By Bill Homewood
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    The Man in the Iron Mask continues the adventures of the dauntless heroes of The Three Musketeers - Aramis, Athos, Porthos and d'Artagnan. In old age their swashbuckling ought to have been replaced by a more gentle way of life, but the veteran warriors find themselves at the center of a plot in which both hearts and heads are broken, and the very throne of France is at stake.

    Tad Davis says: "An odd place to start"
    "An odd place to start"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bill Homewood is a wonderful narrator and has done thrilling versions of books by Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo. And his narration here is first-rate. But the text itself is a puzzle. The Man in the Iron Mask is actually part of a much larger novel by Dumas, The Vicomte de Bragelonne. Different editors divide the book up in different ways. The particular version selected for this recording begins incoherently: Aramis is visiting Philippe in the Bastille, but all indications of context have been lopped off the front. For example, the first sentence is: "Since Aramis's singular transformation into a confessor of the order, Baisemeaux was no longer the same man." What order? Who is Baisemeaux? The next sentence goes on to talk about the "the place which Aramis held in the worthy governor's estimation." Governor of what? Is he still talking about Baisemeaux or someone else? The narrator mentions "the turnkey, the same who, on Aramis's first arrival, had shown himself so inquisitive and curious." Wait - this isn't his first visit? Which turnkey? Is Baisemeaux the turnkey? What was he curious about? "In this wise they reached the basement of the Bertaudiere." Um.... OK.... what's the Bertaudiere? And why are they in the basement?

    Continued listening will clarify the context, but I found myself irritated by this unnecessarily rocky start. Granted this is a widely available "editor's cut" of the novel, but there ARE other versions that begin in a less confusing way. Naxos usually takes more care in choosing editions of non-English works.

    For those who are interested, all parts of the massive Vicomte de Bragelonne have been recorded in an excellent version by Simon Vance.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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