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Joshua

New York, NY, United States | Member Since 2004

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  • 578 titles in library
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  • 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Charles Emerson
    • Narrated By Kevin Stillwell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (26)

    Today, 1913 is inevitably viewed through the lens of 1914: as the last year before a war that would shatter the global economic order and tear Europe apart, undermining its global pre-eminence. Our perspectives narrowed by hindsight, the world of that year is reduced to its most frivolous features last summers in grand aristocratic residences or its most destructive ones: the unresolved rivalries of the great European powers, the fear of revolution, violence in the Balkans.

    GANESHi says: "Good book ruined by bad read"
    "Well written, *very* poorly read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What didn’t you like about Kevin Stillwell’s performance?

    Stillwell's voice is actually pleasantly neutral. Neutrality is not a bad quality: while an unsuitable or irritating voice can ruin an audiobook, only the rarest readings are memorably outstanding; simply not noticing the voice is the mark of a workmanlike reading, competent and unintrusive. Stillwell's performance is solid on this matter.

    However - and this is a very big qualification - as other reviewers have pointed out, Stillwell's pronunciation of even the commonest foreign words or names - or sometimes even of fairly common English words like "quay" - is abysmal. The pronunciation is occasionally confusing ("Does he mean ...?"), but more often just jarring; I know what he means, but constantly find myself audibly correcting him, over and over. Because the text deliberately jumps from locale to locale, the listener can't even overcome the mispronunciations by becoming used to them, as every chapter brings the text to a new place where Stillwell will find a whole new crop of words to mangle.

    This completely undermines the admirable neutrality of his voice, by constantly intruding on the listener, dragging him out of the story and into a pedantic confrontation with the narrator. What's worse is how easily this could have been corrected: one particular howler was Stillwell's failed attempt to pronounce the surname of the French writer André Gide, which Stillwell pronounces as if it were "guide." Gide, a Nobel Prize winner, is hardly so obscure that the correct pronunciation would have been difficult for Stillwell to find; a Google search gives it immediately.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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