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D. Littman

history buff

OH | Member Since 2003

1304
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 150 reviews
  • 598 ratings
  • 689 titles in library
  • 27 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
168

  • Shadow Divers: Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of WWII

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Robert Kurson
    • Narrated By Michael Prichard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2118)
    Performance
    (591)
    Story
    (594)

    In 1991, acting on a tip from a local fisherman, two scuba divers discovered a sunken German U-boat, complete with its crew of 60 men, not too far off the New Jersey coast. The divers, realizing the momentousness of their discovery, began probing the mystery. Over the next six years, they became expert and well-traveled researchers, taught themselves German, hunted for clues in Germany, and constructed theories corrective of the history books, all in an effort to identify this sunken U-boat and its crew.

    Douglas says: "GRIPPING!"
    "Very interesting human interest & history story"
    Overall

    Even though I only gave this 4 stars, I have to say it was one of the most entertaining & compelling books-on-tape I have listened to from Audible. This despite some sloppiness in the writing & organization (that's what knocked it down one star). The character development, adventure &, to a lesser extent, the historical aspects of the story keep you riverted to the headphones throughout.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Selected Shorts: Funny Business

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Simon Rich, David Schickler, Joe Meno, and others
    • Narrated By Wyatt Cenac, Isiah Sheffer, Kirsten Vangsness, and others
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    From wild and wacky to knee-slapping, laugh-out-loud fun, these humorous tales represent some of the best of recent seasons of the hit public radio series Selected Shorts. Comedian Wyatt Cenac gives a killer performance of Simon Rich’s hilarious tale of woe from the point of view of a condom in a young man’s wallet. Alec Baldwin gives a delightful over-the-top performance of James Thurber’s wonderfully silly classic tale of the day everybody in a small Ohio town thought the dam broke.

    D. Littman says: "Some very entertaining, some not"
    "Some very entertaining, some not"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from the authors and/or the narrators?

    Probably not. A whole book on a subject, including a comedy book, suits my taste better. These stories were of variable quality. A few hilarious, a couple just awful, very please when I got to the end. The narration of all the stories, excellent though. Sorry to sound like a curmudgeon on this volume.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Cary Elwes, Joe Layden, Rob Reiner (foreword)
    • Narrated By Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, and others
    Overall
    (155)
    Performance
    (147)
    Story
    (145)

    From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

    Alison says: "Inconceivable that this book could be any more fun"
    "very entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Very entertaining audio book for Princess Bride aficionados. People who haven't seen the movie wouldn't get it. It is largely from Cary Elwes point of view, but others -- the director, producer, screenwriter, & most of the players have greater & smaller roles (& have speaking parts. The book is a little uneven, with sections that are fall down funny, just interesting & a few portions that seem like filler. But altogether it is an enjoyable listen.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Edward E. Baptist
    • Narrated By Ron Butler
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    In The Half Has Never Been Told, historian Edward E. Baptist reveals the alarming extent to which slavery shaped our country politically, morally, and most of all, economically. Until the Civil War, our chief form of innovation was slavery. Through forced migration and torture, slave owners extracted continual increases in efficiency from their slaves, giving the country a virtual monopoly on the production of cotton, a key raw material of the Industrial Revolution.

    D. Littman says: "outstanding, beautiful work of history"
    "outstanding, beautiful work of history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Half Has Never Been Told the most enjoyable?

    This book is a new interpretation of the U.S. antebellum period that powerfully combines the reality of slavery, the economics of the internal slave trade, international trade & the industrial revolution (first in the UK and later in New England), financial innovation & speculation, and banking. Baptist is able show how absolutely central slavery was to the American economy in the 19th century, north and south.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The sections that described how southern cotton planters & their overseers actually industrialized manual cotton cultivation to achieve a tripling and quadupling productivity in the field.


    Any additional comments?

    The narrator is outstanding, he does well with great written material.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Irving Finkel
    • Narrated By Irving Finkel, Gareth Armstrong
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (25)

    Since the Victorian period, it has been understood that the story of Noah, iconic in the Book of Genesis, and a central motif in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, derives from a much older story that existed centuries before in ancient Babylon. But the relationship between the Babylonian and biblical traditions was shrouded in mystery. Then, in 2009, Irving Finkel, a curator at the British Museum and a world authority on ancient Mesopotamia, found himself playing detective.

    D. Littman says: "excellent, enlightening, entertaining"
    "excellent, enlightening, entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    The author successfully combines "modern" detective stories from the 19th, 20th & 21st centuries, archeological, linguistic & literary; with an approachable guide to the history of written language (focusing on cunieform); and the evolution of biblical literature (focusing on the Noah story, but not only that). The writing & the narration, excellent. I was so sorry when the book was over, I wanted to hear more.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Peter Finn, Petra Couvée
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (17)

    In May of 1956, an Italian publishing scout took a train to the Russian countryside to visit the country's most beloved poet, Boris Pasternak. He left concealing the original manuscript of Pasternak's much anticipated first novel, entrusted to him with these words from the author: "This is Doctor Zhivago. May it make its way around the world." Pasternak knew his novel would never be published in the Soviet Union, where the authorities regarded it as an assault on the 1917 Revolution, so he allowed it to be published in translation all over the world.

    D. Littman says: "wonderful book"
    "wonderful book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Zhivago Affair again? Why?

    Yes eventually. Very moving history book.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    In the latter portion of the book, when Pasternak, his family & his mistress family were being unjustly persecuted by the Soviet state & it's corrupt literary hierarchy I got very mad.


    Any additional comments?

    Just a terrific book of political & literary history. Very moving & impossible to put down.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs)
    • By Jonas Jonasson
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1843)
    Performance
    (1642)
    Story
    (1662)

    After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash.

    Sylvia says: "Full of Surprises and Unexpected Events"
    "very entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared in three words, what would they be?

    endlessly stimulating & entertaining


    What does Steven Crossley bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    While I have not read the hard-cover, it seemed like just the kind of lighthearted book I would like read to me, rather than having to read it.


    Any additional comments?

    Very enjoyable book of humor spiced with brushes by the protagonist with real events & famous leaders of the 20th century.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Redeployment

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Phil Klay
    • Narrated By Craig Klein
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (58)

    Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss.

    D. Littman says: "Very moving book"
    "Very moving book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Redeployment again? Why?

    Yes, I would listen to it again or, better yet, read the book on my Kindle.


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent, multi-faceted, multi-character set of stories, all linked together from the Iraq war. Very well written & well narrated.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Alan Taylor
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (22)

    This searing story of slavery and freedom in the Chesapeake reveals the pivot in the nation’s path between the founding and civil war. Frederick Douglass recalled that slaves living along Chesapeake Bay longingly viewed sailing ships as "freedom’s swift-winged angels." In 1813 those angels appeared in the bay as British warships coming to punish the Americans for declaring war on the empire. Drawn from new sources, Alan Taylor's riveting narrative re-creates the events that inspired black Virginians, haunted slaveholders, and set the nation on a new and dangerous course.

    D. Littman says: "one of the best audiobooks I've read recently"
    "one of the best audiobooks I've read recently"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    Terrific book, a micro-history of the Virginia Chesapeake region, slavery, and the War of 1812. The author does a very skillful job providing the context from the American points-of-view, the historical background for both the slavery elements and the War. Taylor then provides a fascinating, blow-by-blow narrative of the War of 1812 in the region, one you can understand very well because of the context he has already served up. I thought the book was going to be mostly about slave escapes, and it is, but without the background that portion would be adrift.

    I thought Bronson Pinchot's narrative approach was perfect for a history book. No need for a narrator or narration with different voices or with lots of up & down emphasis. This is a history, not a drama. I am going to seek out more of the books he's narrated for Audible.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Moynihan's Moment: America's Fight Against Zionism as Racism

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Gil Troy
    • Narrated By Clinton Wade
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    On November 10, 1975, the General Assembly of United Nations passed Resolution 3379, which declared Zionism a form of racism. Afterward, a tall man with long, graying hair, horned-rim glasses, and a bowtie stood to speak. He pronounced his words with the rounded tones of a Harvard academic, but his voice shook with outrage: "The United States rises to declare, before the General Assembly of the United Nations, and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act."

    D. Littman says: "promising subject, disappointing execution"
    "promising subject, disappointing execution"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This was a very promising book. I am very interested in Moynihan, the time period (through which I lived), US-Israel relations, the United Nations. Perfect ingredients for an entertaining & intellectually-satisfying book. The book is well-written in the sense that the vignettes and anecdotes it contains are generally well-written (if a bit biased at times, or at least lacking the analytical breadth to understand the position of the "other side"). But the book seems disorganized, perhaps more so because it is an audiobook and not a hard-bound one. But I suspect both suffer from a weak outline and from the absence of a strong editorial hand. I enjoyed parts of the book as I went along, and I suppose it could be satisfying on those grounds alone. But I am sure there are better treatments of Moynihan (e.g., biographies) and I know there are better ones on US-Israel relations, the UN in the 1970s & 1980, dealing with the egomaniacal Kissinger and so forth. There are a couple of highly-rated Moynihan books on Amazon (Audible's parent), although not in audio form. I am going to try one of those next.I am sorry I could not give this book a stronger review.

    2 of 2 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
    (871)
    Performance
    (775)
    Story
    (772)

    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.

    C. Telfair says: "Wow! Patience Rewarded!"
    "Good narrative, little analysis"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about this story?

    Doris Kearns Goodwin is a terrific narrator, and does a good job relating the sweep of history and how her various characters fit into the sweep (and influence the sweep as well). With respect to Taft & Roosevelt, and especially the latter, there is not a lot of new information here, but it is the "how" of the narration that is new, the connecting of the dots between the two of them, and between them & the history of the US that is novel here.


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

    It would be impossible and indeed undesirable to read this in just one sitting, it is a sprawling story, in the way Kearns Goodwin tells it. And it is better to take smaller bites over a longer period, to appreciate the story.


    Any additional comments?

    A strength of this book and indeed of all of this author's books, is her strength as a narrator. A weakness is the absence of analysis. And, often, along with that lack, the portrayal of the protagonists with a substantial deemphasis of their flaws. Not so much their flaws as people but the flaws of their policies.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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