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Hal VT

High school history and psychology teacher currently working on a scholarly article on 13th-century Franciscan theologian Guibert of Tournai

Bennington, VT USA | Listener Since 2009

6
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 12 ratings
  • 183 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • The Radicalism of the American Revolution

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Gordon S. Wood
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (82)
    Performance
    (54)
    Story
    (54)

    Grand in scope, rigorous in its arguments, and elegantly synthesizing 30 years of scholarship, Gordon S. Wood's Pulitzer Prize–winning book analyzes the social, political, and economic consequences of 1776. In The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Wood depicts not just a break with England, but the rejection of an entire way of life: of a society with feudal dependencies, a politics of patronage, and a world view in which people were divided between the nobility and "the Herd."

    Zachary says: "A unique and relevant look at the founding"
    "Regurgitating Gordon Wood"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Radicalism of the American Revolution in three words, what would they be?

    Seminal social history


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I think my head would explode. Look, this is the kind of thing that qualifies as Very Legitimate History, and if you want a fairly deep understanding of what made the American Revolution revolutionary in the social sense, it's a great listen. It's probably not what the casual watcher of the History Channel wants to chew on, unless he's in training to go to a Harvard bar and have an argument with a math genius from Southie.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Rick Atkinson
    • Narrated By Jeff Riggenbach
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (28)

    Throughout the Gulf War of 1991, unprecedented restrictions on the media’s access to the battlefield kept the true story of that brief, brutal conflict from being told. Now, after two years of intensive research, Rick Atkinson has written what will surely come to be recognized as the definitive chronicle of the war.

    Lyle says: "A very decent account of the gulf war"
    "Great account of Desert Shield/Storm"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Crusade to be better than the print version?

    No. In fact, I got most of the way through this, then ordered it in hardcover.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Atkinson has a knack for finding a perfect middle-ground between The War as an event run by entire coalitions of governments and massive military units on the one side, and the troops in the proverbial trenches on the other side. It is therefore more readable than a history of politics and policy or of divisional maneuvers and terrain, while being broader in scope than, say, Jarhead. Stylistically, his writing brings things to life while giving the "big picture" history.


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

    This was my first. As other reviewers have doubtlessly pointed out, he mispronounces household names like Dick Cheney and Colin Powell. He also pronounces Arabic place names oddly; though "Sa-OO-di" may well be technically correct, it's not how anyone pronounced it when I was there twice with Operation Southern Watch. Aggravating.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazing Tales from the Boston Red Sox Dugout: A Collection of the Greatest Red Sox Stories Ever Told

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Bill Nowlin, Jim Prime
    • Narrated By Gary Telles
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    huge treasury to delight Red Sox Nation. Founded in 1901, the Boston Red Sox have been making history for over a century. The passion of the players, the tragedy and triumph of the “Bambino’s Curse” - the Boston spirit comes alive in this collection of stories and anecdotes from Fenway Park. Any baseball fan will find this book irresistible.

    Hal VT says: "Not a format conducive to audiobook"
    "Not a format conducive to audiobook"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The book is a series of anecdotes, seemingly anywhere from one to several pages long. It is not organized chronologically or, as far as I can tell, thematically. Each section is titled with the name of the individual at the center of the anecdote, so a story on, say, Dom Dimaggio ends without warning, the narrator abruptly announces, for example, "Roger Clemens," and it's off to the races on his 20-K performance against Seattle. Probably fine in a book, but as an audiobook, it's like sitting next to a talkative and somewhat drunk old man at a Boston bar.

    The lack of context around each makes the perpetual shifting of time particularly hard to follow. Oh, Billy Rohr got the Impossible Dream season off to such a start....oh, wait! now we're considering Wade Boggs' penchant for chicken and, strangely, his marriage trouble...but there's no time to figure out what one has to do with the other, because now it's an apocryphal account of that time Harry Hooper threw a ball really far....oh, no time for that, Ted Williams is a fighter pilot now....and now the war must be over, because Wakefield is throwing knuckleballs that only Doug Mirabelli can handle...even an experienced Sox fan - one who likely knows most of these "Amazing Tales" - will find his or her head spinning.

    Rearranging the stories into chronological order may have made this listenable....but maybe not.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Some of the anecdotes are interesting-ish...but not as much so as those in, say, Francona, Bouton's infamous Ball Four, or even The Baseball Codes.


    Was Amazing Tales from the Boston Red Sox Dugout worth the listening time?

    Probably not. Lifelong fans already have heard these along the way from the NESN crew or elsewhere, and casual fans will find it perplexing.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fighting the Flying Circus

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Eddie V. Rickenbacker
    • Narrated By John Pruden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (13)

    Captain Eddie V. Rickenbacker, originally from Ohio, was best known as one of the commanders of the 94th "Hat-in-the-Ring" Squadron, a crack unit of World War I pilots that included many former members of the famed Lafayette Escadrille. The 94th ended the war in France with the highest number of air victories of any American squadron.

    Jean says: "World War 1 ace"
    "A primary source from America's Ace of Aces"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Fighting the Flying Circus?

    Historical primary sources that are this colorful are rare. WWI has been hugely overshadowed by WWII for most Americans interested in history for a number of reasons, one being that it seems obscure, foreign, and bleak to today's reader. Rickenbacker's account gives it an immediacy that cannot be denied: these were young men fighting on the last front of modern war that had some claim to a code of gallantry and chivalry, though total war is by its nature brutal and unromantic.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I like social and military history, so getting a firsthand account of an aviator's life just as military aviation began to develop was right up my alley.


    What does John Pruden bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    As the book is written in the first person, having it narrated made it feel more like Rickenbacker was telling his story to me personally. The narration is competent and unremarkable, which is probably a good thing with a book like this; the narrator has no quirks that detract from the story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Francona: The Red Sox Years

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Terry Francona, Dan Shaughnessy
    • Narrated By Jeff Gurner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (125)
    Performance
    (115)
    Story
    (113)

    From famed manager Terry Francona, a lively, unvarnished narrative of his tenure with the storied Boston Red Sox... From 2004 to 2011, Terry Francona managed the Boston Red Sox, the most talked-about, scrutinized team in all of sports. In Francona the legendary manager opens up for the first time about his eight years there, as they went from cursed franchise to one of the most successful and profitable in baseball history. He takes listeners inside the rarefied world of a 21st-century clubhouse.

    Sean says: "I enjoyed it a lot,"
    "Fly on the clubhouse wall"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. Any Sox fan who has felt a little like George Steinbrenner or Bill Veeck has been running things at Fenway for the past few years without quite being able to put their finger on why they have that feeling will find a lot of clarity in this behind-the-scenes look at the ballclub from a manager's-eye-view. Things you may have noticed, without quite making sense of, all add up here. I expected a bit of sour grapes, but Tito's criticisms of the organization all fit with the more-than-casual fan's experiences of the Red Sox over the past decade or so, and he invariably qualifies them with the acknowledgement that the front office and the manager's office have different agendas because they serve different purposes for the organization.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Francona, somewhat obviously. It's good to hear that some of his more seemingly boneheaded decisions were in view of the bigger picture. While it sucks to spend money to go to Fenway on a day the team rolls over, Tito explains why sometimes that's still the best call for the team and the organization.


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

    Not sure if I've heard anything else of his, but the occasional mispronunciations of names - it's "Bill Miller," not "Bill Mueller," regardlesss of spelling - exposes him as someone who doesn't follow the team. Distracting? Not terribly. Could they have found ONE narrator who knows the player names for the Boston Red Sox? I'd imagine so.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Funny in spots, sure. Crying....uhh, no.


    Any additional comments?

    This is, overall, probably the most addictive audiobook I've gotten in the past year. If you've been a Sox fan, especially if you've been around for the entire career arc of Francona at Four Yawkey Way, give it a listen. You'll be surprised at how many of these games you personally remember, and at Tito's commentary on those games and the circumstances in which they were played. A really nice fly-on-the-clubhouse-wall book that tempts a lifelong Boston fan to root for the Indians in 2013....especially once you learn about what a nutroll the ownership group for the Red Sox is.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Founding Fathers

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Arthur M. Schlesinger (Editor), James McGregor Burns, Susan Dunn, and others
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (29)

    The Founding Fathers series, edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., examines the presidencies of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

    Hal VT says: "A well presented short series"
    "A well presented short series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The Founding Fathers?

    If you liked Founding Brothers by Ellis, or maybe 1776 by McCullough, this provides more background into the cast of characters without being a 200-hour commitment. There's enough humanity to keep things interesting to anyone who wants to know more while remaining, under Schlesinger's name, Real History. At not quite twenty-three hours, it moves along at a fairly good clip.

    As a work of Real History, it works to steer clear of the modern inclination towards the "WWGWD" (what would George Washington do?) political commentaries disguised as histories, largely by having a different biographer for of each of these men (and having none of them Glenn Beck clones). While none of the biographies are going to be called "the definitive work" on their respective topics, they provide a nice history aimed at the many of us in between high-interest stuff like Founding Brothers and the hardcover biographies most often given as gifts and used only as bookshelf decorations.


    What other book might you compare The Founding Fathers to and why?

    Isaacson's biography of Benjamin Franklin comes to mind, though the unabridged version is actually longer than these four biographies combined.....as the biographies are relatively short, you shouldn't expect the kind of in-depth detail found in a stand-alone single biography.


    What about the narrator???s performance did you like?

    While not dry and dusty, appropriately professorial for the subject matter.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Uhh....it's not really that kind of book.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Catch-22

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Joseph Heller
    • Narrated By Jay O. Sanders
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1823)
    Performance
    (906)
    Story
    (921)

    Catch-22 is set in the closing months of World War II, in an American bomber squadron on a small island off Italy. Its hero is a bombardier named Yossarian, who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he hasn't even met keep trying to kill him. (He has decided to live forever, even if he has to die in the attempt.)

    Phil says: "Phenominal Reading - Story and Damn Funny"
    "Poetic absurdity"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I've long since recommended it for a read, and now can recommend it even more so as an audiobook. This is a book that deserved a great narration, and got it.


    What does Jay O. Sanders bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator does a good job with some witty dialogue...he shifts voices and characters smoothly in a book that demands close attention.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Briefer History of Time

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow
    • Narrated By Erik Davies
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (568)
    Performance
    (105)
    Story
    (106)

    Stephen Hawking's worldwide best seller, A Brief History of Time, has been a landmark volume in scientific writing. Its author's engaging voice is one reason, and the compelling subjects he addresses is another: the nature of space and time, the role of God in creation, the history and future of the universe.

    David says: "Stick with the original: A brief history of time"
    "Science I can get!"
    Overall

    As a teacher, I know that it's one thing to understand complex ideas; it's quite another to articulate them clearly to someone who lacks a good frame of reference for understanding. Hawking's real genius is not in his knowledge and understanding of complicated ideas, it's in his ability to simplify them so that a guy like me, who dropped high school physics because it seemed so much like pure magic, is able to understand them on a basic level.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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