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D. Littman

history buff

OH | Member Since 2003

1315
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 155 reviews
  • 600 ratings
  • 691 titles in library
  • 29 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
169

  • The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Eric Foner
    • Narrated By Norman Dietz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (129)
    Performance
    (83)
    Story
    (86)

    Eric Foner gives us the definitive history of Abraham Lincoln and the end of slavery in America. Foner's Lincoln emerges as a leader, one whose greatness lies in his capacity for moral and political growth through real engagement with allies and critics alike. This powerful work will transform our understanding of the nation's greatest president and the issue that mattered most.

    D. Littman says: "great book about slavery and lincoln"
    "great book about slavery and lincoln"
    Overall

    You would be justified if you thought there are too many books about the Civil War & about Lincoln. I believe there are more books about Lincoln than there are about any figure in the western canon. So I looked askance at yet another one. Since I had read 2 other excellent volumes by Foner, including one I highly recommend about reconstruction, I took the dive.

    Foner has produced something unique here. He has followed the line of the history of antebellum racism and thought about slavery, in general, and Lincoln's thoughts and actions about it in particular. There may not be anything 100% new in the book, but the way it is all put in one place, chronologically and with ample evidence, is what makes it a valuable addition to history.

    Lincoln was both a man of his time and a professional politician. That has to be the starting point for any discussion of his views and actions about slavery in the United States. As Foner makes clear, Lincoln always had an abhorrence of slavery and unpaid servitude in general. Which does not mean he was not a racist by our 21st century standards. Lincoln was not the most anti-slavery man, or politician of his time ... had he been so, we would not know his name today, because he never could have become so prominent in politics nor become president.

    Foner's accomplishment is to show how Lincoln's views changed over his career. From someone not terribly concern about slavery (in the 1840s, for instance) but still against it, to someone increasing concerned about it (in the 1850s) but mainly in the context of territorial expansion, to someone who gradually recognized it as the central cause of the war between the states. Along the way, Lincoln did drag along some of his cherished (and now repudiated) ideas, like the idea of colonization (which he held until late in his presidency in some fashion). And a habit of demeaning blacks in his manner of talking (like using the n-word and telling jokes). Highly recommended.

    25 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Lawrence Wright
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall, Lawrence Wright
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    A gripping day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference, when President Jimmy Carter persuaded Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to sign the first peace treaty in the modern Middle East, one which endures to this day.

    Jean says: "Magnificent"
    "revealing political history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is so revealing about the Carter administration & the post WW2 history of the middle east. I remember vaguely this whole event, the Carter peace initiative, but Wright successfully brings the event, the key characters (not just the principals) & the contextual background to life. The book mixes biography of the key players with the main event. Sometimes this feels a little bumpy - it might play more so this way in the audio version, since listener cannot see chapter headings or other transitions that would appear in the physical book. The narrator is excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Griswold v. Connecticut: 50 Most Cited Cases

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By The Supreme Court of the United States
    • Narrated By uncredited
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Griswold was the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut. Both she and the Medical Director for the League gave information, instruction, and other medical advice to married couples concerning birth control. Griswold and her colleague were convicted under a Connecticut law which criminalized the provision of counseling, and other medical treatment, to married persons for purposes of preventing conception.

    D. Littman says: "nice companion to reading about the case elsewhere"
    "nice companion to reading about the case elsewhere"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This new series on audible looks to be a cool gold mine, although this is the first I've listened to. Griswold vs Connecticut is one of those cases you should know about as a non lawyer. I first heard of it from my late grandmother in law who used to shuttle women in need of birth control from CT to NY due to the medieval CT laws. This Oyez recording is a great piece of history. But it needs to be supplemented by a bit of side reading about the case. In the Supreme Court Q&A there is a lot of back & forth about constitutional arcana that is hard to follow without outside knowledge.

    The sound quality isn't terrific. You can hear the 2 lawyers very clearly but often cannot hear (or identify) the justices. The lawyers do most of the talking so that was acceptable. I am sure the written transcript is available on the internet to fill in the blanks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Industrial Revolution

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Patrick N. Allitt
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    From electric lights to automobiles to the appliances that make our lives easier at work and at home, we owe so much of our world to the Industrial Revolution. In this course, The Great Courses partners with the Smithsonian - one of the world's most storied and exceptional educational institutions - to examine the extraordinary events of this period and uncover the far-reaching impact of this incredible revolution.

    SJS says: "Fascinating and very well presented"
    "weak, unfortunately"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read or better said, listened to, numerous Teaching Company courses. On the whole they are terrific, even if on topics that are only on the fringe of my main interests.

    Unfortunately this is one of the weaker courses. The professors is somewhat annoying in his accent & diction. And he seems confused about whether to be superficial or deep on the subjects he covers.

    The problem here may be with me, since I know quite a bit already about the subject matter.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • One Summer: America, 1927

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Bill Bryson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1469)
    Performance
    (1327)
    Story
    (1312)

    One of the most admired nonfiction writers of our time retells the story of one truly fabulous year in the life of his native country - a fascinating and gripping narrative featuring such outsized American heroes as Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, and yes Herbert Hoover, and a gallery of criminals (Al Capone), eccentrics (Shipwreck Kelly), and close-mouthed politicians (Calvin Coolidge). It was the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things and came of age in a big, brawling manner. What a country. What a summer. And what a writer to bring it all so vividly alive.

    Mark says: "Why 1927?"
    "Life is like a box of candy, so are Bryson books"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bryson books are like confections, like a box of candy with multiple, surprising fillings. This book is no exception although it is the first I have listened to out of the Audible stable. Bryson tells & interweaves many stories to keep the otherwise too long narrative fresh & interesting. This book focuses on many personalities of the period, among the major ones Lindbergh, Harding, Coolidge & Ford. Lindbergh & flying is a particular focus as are the [now] minor or forgotten colleagues in flight of the period. Bryson's works are not deep, not analytical. I might say "shallow" but I never feel that way when reading his work. I know I can find other works (indeed he often refers to those other works in the text) if I want to dig deeper. I am pretty familiar with the 1920s & with his main characters but I did not find much to complain about in his narrative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Svante Pääbo
    • Narrated By Dennis Holland
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    A preeminent geneticist hunts the Neanderthal genome to answer the biggest question of them all: what does it mean to be human? What can we learn from the genes of our closest evolutionary relatives? Neanderthal Man tells the story of geneticist Svante Pbo’s mission to answer that question, beginning with the study of DNA in Egyptian mummies in the early 1980s and culminating in his sequencing of the Neanderthal genome in 2009.

    D. Littman says: "Excellent, human-scale, book about science"
    "Excellent, human-scale, book about science"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Neanderthal Man the most enjoyable?

    The author (& protagonist/narrator) made the hard science in the book very easy to listen to. He interweaves the drama & the process of science with the personal ambitions of scientists, annals of his own life & career. It all makes the science portion exciting, without the reader having to know all of the details he goes over. The narration is excellent. And I found it hard to put down my iPod throughout (thereby accumulating lots of podcasts, science-centric & otherwise, that I could enjoy when the book was done).


    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
    (263)
    Performance
    (253)
    Story
    (251)

    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.

    Anne Morris says: "I don't normally write reviews but..."
    "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.


    2 of 2 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
    (32)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (31)

    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
    (29)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (26)

    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

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