These SmartPass dramatizations with a teaching commentator are excellent. There are several others and they are just as good.
I read, somewhere, this book called the "best ever written." The performance by Guidall is also of that caliber - his character voices, of Don Quixote, Sanco Panza and all the others, are so individual that you soon forget this is a book. You can forget you are at home, washing dishes, believing instead that you are on a dusty plain in the burning sun, thirsty, with empty saddlebags, listening to the story of an enchanted shepherd. The voices are SO good that sometimes the dramatic pauses, sighs and perils-of-pauline-type purple-prose start in one register and fall down the scale, "Oh-h (high) - oh - oh-h oh-h (low) h-oh," in D-sharp minor. This book can't be rushed.
At first I was slightly bored by it, thinking OK, it's a classic, it's got to be good, and if it isn't, at least I can say I read it. Then, gradually, the humor started showing through. Now I don't want it to be over (I'm not done yet), I want to enjoy every moment, and I may even listen to it again.
Moreover (literati), this book is about books from a time when books were television, movies, YouTube, twitter, vines and all social media combined. It's also a history, capturing not only what was going on in Spain in the 16th century but referencing what had been going on in Europe from the 13th to 15th - it could be read side-by-side with Barbara Tuchman's In a Distant Mirror (the two versions of Knight Errantry fit rather well). It's the ideology of heroism about the ideology of heroism, knights saving widows and orphans (Tuchman points out that the reality was more like knights raping, then killing, widows and orphans) and the funny thing is, that same ideology is here with us today in Hollywood movies and other heroic shows. That's the mark of a classic, that it's timeless, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Cervantes managed to poke fun of the 21st century from the distant mirror of the 16th.
I'm glad Kaplan's out there doing all the traveling for me. I also appreciate the historical research and analysis. It's very hard to understand what is going on in the world today, but this book helps.
What a life Mary had! It was an insane whirl and makes you glad you aren't a queen. This well-balanced treatment puts her life into the context of Elizabeth's life and makes inevitable the battle between them. It's good, but not as good as Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles.
Books about slavery are almost always difficult to read, like listening to the history of Jews in WW II. Nevertheless, a strength and beauty came out of this one. The reading is excellent - once you start you can't stop.
I listened to this in the car on the way to Salem with my daughter, to get the full experience. The book was good; Salem (around Halloween) good for those under 12, perhaps. The definitive book, Salem Possessed, explains it for adults (it was political). I'm so glad I was born in the 20th century . . . .
This was a GREAT book for me because it combined my scholarly interest in truth with my lowbrow enjoyment of the TV show Hoarders. I . . . ahem . . . might hoard a little myself, or at least not be able to throw out railroad ties and broken bottles I dig up in the woods, but I still love to hear about other people who do it WORSE. I wonder if watching / reading about hoarding is a form of hoarding itself . . . .
This is a new way of looking at history and makes much more sense than Wars, Generals and Regimes - it looks at a whole society and how it functions. It's probably not for everyone because it is scholarly, using the primary source material of comparative folklore, but the overall themes should be shared with everyone, perhaps even in secondary school texts, because it makes the mixture of people in the US much easier to understand. There were four areas in England from which the early settlers care, and we evolved from those cultures, even us latecomers. We adopted the ethics and habits of either the Puritians (northeast), Quakers (mid-Atlantic), aristocracy (south) or northern (Scottish/Irish) borderers (rural mid-south). If this type of history becomes common, we can see how all cultures contributed to America.
This book is a new type of history - looking behind the curtain. Instead of reinterpreting monuments of known documents, the author is going one level away from the subject and the view is much, much better. These are histories of society and social trends, of groups instead of individuals. Wonderful book. I want more. I love this new type of history.
This is the second time I've "read" this book and listening to it gives a different dimension. Impressive historian, impressive sourcing and incisive pattern-finding. I'm not a historian but it seems to me there's been a lot of "medieval times were not so backward" going around, like "they discovered X and did Y, etc." but . . . well . . . really?
I don't know if this book counts as journalism, history or whatever, but it was GOOD. It made you feel like you were there (without the agony of BEING there). The author didn't judge the characters or events which was also good. It shows how quickly society can break down even with the best of intentions and how rapidly the dogs of war come to finish the job. Great moral story and warning (which we will probably ignore).
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