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Elgin, IL, United States


  • Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Rick Perlstein
    • Narrated By Stephen R. Thorne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    From one of America's most talented historians and winner of a LA Times Book Prize comes a brilliant new account of Richard Nixon that reveals the riveting backstory to the red state/blue state resentments that divide our nation today. Told with urgency and sharp political insight, Nixonland recaptures America's turbulent 1960s and early 1970s and reveals how Richard Nixon rose from the political grave to seize and hold the presidency.

    Frank says: "A 5-Star Book Injured by the Narrator"

    Just when I thought I knew everything there was to dislike about Nixon, along comes this book. Intriguing insights about the roots of the current political divide. Leftish point of view, but honest about the left's dropping the ball when the field seemed wide open after 1964. I found the book exceptionally well read, though, as others have commented, the mispronunciation of familiar names almost made me jump out of my shoes.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Coolidge

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Amity Shlaes
    • Narrated By Terence Aselford

    Calvin Coolidge, president from 1923 to 1929, never rated highly in polls, and history has remembered the decade in which he served as an extravagant period predating the Great Depression. Now Amity Shlaes provides a fresh look at the 1920s and its elusive president, showing that the mid-1920s was in fact a triumphant period that established our modern way of life: The nation electrified, Americans drove their first cars, and the federal deficit was replaced with a surplus.

    Jean says: "Silent Cal"
    "A Dull Man, a Duller Biography"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    It's hard to write an interesting biography of a dull person. One approach is to do a "Life and Times" which would have worked especially well her, because the events of the 1920's are fascinating in themselves. I was left with no idea whatsoever why Calvin Coolidge wanted to be president, except, perhaps, to shave a few nickles off the national debt through what is now called supply-side economics. I am curious why Amity Shlaes thought this biography worth writing.

    Has Coolidge turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I've learned that I prefer biographies of great, or at least interesting, people. A president is not worth an exhaustive biography simply because our political system happened to cough him up.

    Have you listened to any of Terence Aselford’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I believe this was my first experience with Terence Aselford. His reading was excellent.

    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I'm an insomniac, and the book succeeded in putting me to sleep several times.

    Any additional comments?

    1) I had a higher opinion of Calvin Coolidge before I listened to this than I do now.
    2) I would suggest avoiding biographies of Franklin Pierce as well.

    2 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • 1861: The Civil War Awakening

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Adam Goodheart
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    As the United States marks the 150th anniversary of our defining national drama, 1861 presents a gripping and original account of how the Civil War began. 1861 is an epic of courage and heroism beyond the battlefields. Early in that fateful year, a second American revolution unfolded, inspiring a new generation to reject their parents' faith in compromise and appeasement, to do the unthinkable in the name of an ideal.

    James says: "Fascinating."
    "This is historical writing at its best."

    A unique history of the first months of the Civil War, told mainly in selected, highly detailed, and richly textured vignettes emblematic of the issues looming over the country at large. Mr. Goodheart by limiting his focus to this narrow but pivotal time period has given us a feel for the perplexing, frightening challenges facing the United States as it stumbled into an unknowable internecine war. These were history-shaping, ethos-changing months for our country, months that standard Civil War surveys pass over too quickly on their way to the "real" war.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America, 1932 - 1972

    • UNABRIDGED (57 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By William Manchester
    • Narrated By Jeff Riggenbach

    This great time capsule of a book captures the abundant popular history of the United States from 1932 to 1972. It encompasses politics, military history, economics, the lively arts, science, fashion, fads, social change, sexual mores, communications, graffiti...everything and anything indigenous that can be captured in print.

    Paula says: "Fabulous book, good narration, bad recording"
    "Interesting, but dated. Needs a sequel."

    More narrative than history. Read it once, but don't use it as a history reference book. Manchester relies too often on contemporary popular journalism, and a lot of the material has been contradicted by more recent and more scholarly research. After reading the book 20 years ago, I felt I "knew" a lot of things that are now considered just plain wrong. Further, as the book approaches the end-point of 1973 it becomes myopic. (For example, the phony Howard Hughes biography seemed far more important in '73 than it does now.) The Watergate onion was just starting to be unpeeled when the book closes and Nixon is reelected, so we're left hanging, feeling like we've lost the last pages of a mystery novel. Had Manchester known the conclusion of the Watergate scandal, the part of the story he did write about would need to be reshaped.

    That said, the book has a great narrative sweep, and a sort of elegant architecture. Forgotten trivia, fads, and cultural artifacts are exhumed and examined. Astonishingly fatuous political utterances and marmoreal editorial pronouncements from the past are trotted out and given the raspberries they deserve. Moreover, Manchester is a lucid storyteller, and refreshingly, his political tendencies (left) give the whole enterprise some spine and forward motion. He successfully shows how, and why, the United States went from point A to point B over 40 event-filled years, and I came away feeling I understood my grandparents, my parents, and my country a little better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Edmund Morris
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Described by the Chicago Tribune as "a classic," The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt stands as one of the greatest biographies of our time. The publication of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt on September 14th, 2001, marked the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt becoming president.

    Mike From Mesa says: "Very, very good, but very, very long."
    "This is a rave"

    Theodore Roosevelt comes to life, largely through his words and those of people who knew him. It's biography as good as it gets.

    Morris unearths and culls an ocean of original data and molds it into a page-turning narrative. TR was a voluminous reader, a polished published author of popular books, a gripping orator, and he kept exhaustive diaries. (The same cannot be said for many interesting historical figures, who, as a result, inspire dreary, lifeless biographies.) We get a sense of who he was from boyhood, a highly intelligent, energetic workaholic with the power to focus on any issue or challenge he tackled.. Though we can't experience TR's charisma first-hand, with this biography we have come closer.

    I don't share all Roosevelt's passions, but I always envy his doggedly focused energy, ethics, attention to detail, and almost pugnacious readiness to confront his opponents. Whatever he chose to do he did with his whole soul, with a kind of joyful combativeness. And, remarkably, he was able to juggle a tricky political climate, while maintaining his personal integrity.

    This is an enriching, animated portrait befitting our most dynamic, driven, and perhaps manic, president.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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