Author describes every other man's physical appearance as simply "ugly" and/or "small".
Also, half the historical figures are described as simply "boring" or "dull" -- in which case they are not worthy of further description. And, being British, author makes sure to show contempt for Wilson, repeating a negative story about him over and over again.
I almost did not buy this after a review for this book that said the author assumes that the reader knows a lot of European history.
Eventually I bought this book and I'm very glad I did. The author only assumes readers (1) know the very basics of Prussia, Junkers, and the formation of German; (2) know the causes of WW1 and the players involved; and (3) know a bit about HItler.
I like the style of this book, because it doesn't focus on every mundane detail of Bismark's life, or spend time analyzing his grandparents like other authors would (I don't care about the grandparents of famous historical figures). Instead, it mostly sticks to explaining and analyzing Bismark's personalty, career and political maneuvers.
Also, unlike many biographers, this author is not afraid to expressly judge his subject or the impact he had on his country. He thinks Bismark was immoral and not quite as far-sighted as most historians seem to think. The author also thinks Bismark actions contributed to leading Germany into WW1 and WW2. In fact, the author probably goes a bit overboard in this direction, but nevertheless this makes for interesting, rather easy, listening.
If you are interested in WW1 and want to get more into 19th century European history, I would suggest this book. Also you should get it if you heard extraordinary claims about Bismark and are interested in learning more about the man.
I've listened to many history books and biographies. This is one of the most boring. It fails to provide sufficient context about politics, warfare, the French revolution, 18th, 19th European history, etc...
Its very narrowly focused on Napoleon and naming the cities and towns he conquered and the number of men he lost. Some chapters are just a meaningless stream of place names, and statistics.
But I really can't finish this because of the narrator. every sentence is spoken with such flair and dash, like its all really clever.
The book starts with the constitutional convention, and Burns focuses on describing the framers, and their political motives and ideas. The sections about political theory are very interesting. However, he also analyzes each of the framers as 'leaders'. Unfortunately,his leadership analysis of each is so cursory as to seem superficial.
From 1830-1900 he pretty much ignores presidents and great senators. Instead he focuses heavily on the social woes of the US as well as captains of industry, artists, and especially authors like Whitman and Emerson.
In the 20th century, he covers great liberal leaders like Teddy, Wilson (he loves Professor Wilson), FDR, Kennedy, LBJ and MLK. His analysis of the first three is long enough for him to properly convey his leadership ideas. He also mocks late 20th century society culture - movies, sports, tv, and radio and he mourns the decline of literature, newspapers, liberalism, intellectuals...
Burns has an unusual, interesting take on American history and presidents. I thought that some chapters were too critical of American society to be interesting. But I enjoyed most of it.
This is just trash. Not interested in a baby who had premonitions that planes were going to crash in the world trade center on Sept 11. Or about how a girl who was sick of being raped by her father stuck a needle through his balls and then through his eyeball. Lots of child molestation. lots of incest. lots of disturbing stories mixed with lots of sappiness.
The most striking biography I've listened to/read. It presents a brilliant nuanced picture of perhaps the most brillant, contradictory politician in American history. Caro has an incredible knowledge and understanding of LBJ and his time period. He also writes grandly and beautifully.
Perlstein covers riots, protests and violence in the 60s and 70s in great detail - because they were amazing in and of themselves, and because of his contention that civil unrest fractured America. Although his lengthy descriptions of civil unrest sometimes become tedius, the extent of civil unrest stunned me (I'm in my 20s), and convincingly prove his argument.
I also thought that Nixon was rather liberal for his talks with China and his creation of the EPA. But Perlstein shows how Nixon's idealogy and talking points contribute greatly to modern conservatism. Perlstein also shows how cynically Nixon used the war in Vietnam for political purposes.
You may be slightly overwhelmed by all the details in this book, but Nixonland is nevertheless extremely interesting for those interested in history and politics.
This is not an accessible book for Americans (at least after the first couple chapters). There are too many descriptions of architecture in far flung parts of the British empire and lots of references to notable families and people (most of whom I have never heard of).
That being said, many chapters provide compelling overviews of the British empire or exciting stories of sieges and wars. And all the chapters are very well written and the narrator is excellent.
According to Unger, Monroe almost single handily saved America during the War of 1812 and ushered in a post-partisan era of good-feelings. Unger describes pre-cotton slavery as a 'paternalistic' institution (with no hint of sarcasm) and provides an extremely lopsided account of US, native American wars - describing the atrocities that Native Americans committed but not those of the US.
Yet despite Unger's (very) skewed narrative, I found the book fun to listen to. He makes early America come to life in a way that more reflective biographies often fail to.
A World Undone is a very comprehensive history of WW1, yet accessible for non-experts.
Interspersed throughout are sections called "Background" which give compelling accounts of everything from the origin of the weapons used to fight WW1 to the personal history of leading politicians and generals, to the history of the major warring countries. They help the reader get the necessary background to understand the war, yet fit in very nicely with the narrative flow of the rest of the chapters.
The narrator is also excellent.
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