David McCullogh's biography of John Adams is an outstanding book about an outstanding man. This is one of the finest biographies I have read or listened to. By the end of the book I felt like I knew John Adams - both his outstanding strengths and his human frailties. I came away with a far better appreciation for Adams and his role in the birth of America than I had previously. The book also provides fascinating glimpses into the other strong personalities of the time, including Hamilton, Franklin and Washington, but most especially Jefferson. It is written beautifully and is so enjoyable to listen to that I was a bit sad when it ended. I strongly recommend this great work.
This book purports to be an objective psychological assessment of BIll Clinton. I had hoped choosing this book on Clinton would enable me to avoid the tenedency of more traditional biographies to either idolize or demonize Bill Clinton. In this I was sorely disappointed. Early in this book, the author discusses the concept of counter transference, the phenomenon whereby the therapist's own feelings toward the patient have an effect on the therapist. Unfortunately, the author clearly failed to be sufficiently on guard for this, as this book is in many ways a worshipful paean to Clinton. Indeed, the author is so enamored of Clinton as to compare him, in all seriousness, to such great figures as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi and even Jesus Christ. He also demonizes anyone who opposed or disagreed with Clinton, freely making judgments about the motives of people about whom he clearly knows next to nothing. Meawhile, he finds ways to excuse Clinton's obvious failings, all in the guise of "explaining" Clinton, apparently believing Clinton has never in his life acted from any but the purest motive.
Along the way, the author does provide some interesting information and analysis pertaining to Clinton's childhood, his relationships with his mother, grandmother, Hillary, etc. Unfortunately, these insights are overwhelmed by the general tone of the book, the general idea of which seems to be that Clinton's biggest problem is/was the failure of the rest of the world to appreciate just how darned wonderful Clinton is. At times the tone of the book is so worshipful as to be laughable, and to sound much like a high school cheerleader gushing over the team quarterback.
These defects, as well as the extreme political partisanship the book exhibits, seriously impair what could have been an interesting book. Also, the author's lack of objectivity undermines his crediblity when discussing some of Clinton's accomplishments, such as his contribution to the Irish peace process. People who idolize Bill Clinton will enjoy this book. Others will find it a hard slog.
This is a reasonably well written short biography of Bush 41 which is consistent with the approach of the other biographies in the Schlesinger series of which it is a part. But it is a political book, so politics cannot be ignored in this review. Although the author is obviously a liberal Democrat, for the most part he attempts to be fair to Bush personally. However, listeners should be forwarned that the entire book is written from a liberal point of view. Thus, for example, the"bad" Bush is the Bush of the "read my lips no new taxes" pledge and the "good" Bush is the Bush who broke that pledge. There are also many gratuitous slaps at Ronald Reagan. Thus, the book in some ways reads like an "analysis" one might read in the NY Times. Accordingly, liberals will have a more positive response than conservatives.
This is a well written, interesting, and even entertaining biography about a complex and difficult subject. Joe Posnanksi clearly did a great deal of excellent research and made great use of his access to Joe Paterno, his family and his associates. By the time the book was over, I felt I had a real sense for this man, his impact on others, his strenths, weaknesses, warts and all. The discussion of the Sandusky situation is the most honest and straight forward I have seen anywhere. Posnanski provides facts and analysis, and leaves opinion to the listener. Finally, Joe Mantegna's reading is absolutely masterful, which will not be surprise to those who have seen him act.
This is a terrific book. It does a superb job of tracking the efforts and relationships among Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley throughout WW II as well as covering the before and after. It also does a fine job of showing how their personalities, beliefs and positions affected their relationships. It is fair to all three of the major protagaonists. Even when they are at odds with one another, you understand where each of them is coming from. I knew virtually no military history before listening and found some of that a little hard to follow, but that did not impair my enjoyment or abilty to follow what the book is really telling us about these three intriguing military leaders. It is well written and well read.
Grafton tries some different things here. There are multiple characters and different time periods. So there is less "mystery" here for the reader, who sometimes knows things Kinsey does not. Nevertheless, I found the different story lines interesting and was just as interested in how things would turn out as I usually am in "who dunnit." There are also some very interesting developments in the story of Kinsey's past and her relationship with her family. I could have lived without some of the sex scenes, which are more detailed than necessary, but there is not alot of that so it is not a serious problem.
Finally, a word about the narrator. Judy Kaye is absolutely outstanding. She is pitch perfect with the tone and does a beautiful job handling conversations with different characters so you can tell who is talking without her concocting lots of different voices. I have become more and more of a fan of hers as I have listened to several of the alphabet series.
This is a fascinating, well told story, with all kinds of intruiging details that most history books ignore. The drama is so well told that it draws you in, even though you know the ending. Richard Thomas does a stellar job narrating.
The sound quality of the first lecture was horrendous. The others are fine. However, Feynman regularly refers to visual aids (you can even hear the chalk against the chalk board on occasion), and without the benefit of those aids I found his lectures hard to follow. I think others without any physics training will also find them hard to follow.
This book is more akin to a series of essays about the Jefferson presidency than to a biography. Evaluated on that level, the book is interesting. Although I found the sporadic pots shots at Federalists in general and John Adams in particular annoying, the essays do provide an interesting commentary on the Jefferson presidency. What they lack, however, is much insight into Jefferson's character.
I enjoyed His Excellency very much. It was a fine introduction to the life of GW. It was more analytical than narrative, which was to my liking. I came away with much more of an understanding of Washington than I had previously. Although the pacing of the reader was a little on the slow side, that did not bother me, and for material of this type, worked just fine.
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