This audiobook is worth it for the performance alone. I would probably listen to Colin Firth read the telephone book. The story is a meditation on love, jealousy and obsession that, frankly, can seem rather dated. There's a good chance I wouldn't have bothered to finish this if I were reading it, but Firth's performance is spellbinding.
If I had to choose a favorite historian, it would be Gordon S. Wood. His scholarship is masterful, and he combines it with a lovely literary style that is very accessible to the general reader. This book on Benjamin Franklin - not a complete biography, but rather an exploration of how Franklin came to be the archetypal American - is a wonderful example. Read it to learn how Franklin's thinking about the British empire and and society, as well as the ancient aristocratic denigration of work, evolved into the uniquely American elevation of the "middling" classes that was readily apparent by the time of Alexis de Toqueville.
This is an excellent history of the conference that produced the Treaty of Versailles, concluding what was then called the Great War. MacMillan's mastery of the details is impressive, and she weaves a fascinating tale. Of particular interest to the contemporary reader is the way she demonstrates how the high handed treatment by the Great Powers (Britain, France and the United States) of people in Africa, Asia and especially the Middle East has consequences we still face today. She also does an excellent job of dispelling many of the popular myths about the Treaty, especially that it made World War II inevitable: as she rightly points out in her Conclusion, although the Treaty itself had many failings - and proved to be an excellent propaganda tool for Hitler - WW II was the result of actions taken (and not taken) by nations and governments in the twenty years between 1919 and 1939.
According to Robert K. Massie's excellent foreword, Barbara Tuchman described herself as a writer whose subject was history. Although she was certainly scholarly in her approach, and very well educated, she was not a professional historian. She was an outstanding writer, with the ability to make historical figures come alive on the page. Her work is very well served by John Lee's outstanding narration.
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