Dublin, CA, United States | Member Since 2008
I've been absolutely enthralled with this book, a seamless narrative that knits together the latest theories of human evolution and pre-history with the latest advances in genetics, paleontology, and archaeology. The narration is smooth (and I love the narrator's deep, trained voice), and the subject matter is both fresh and deeply fascinating.
The book starts with an account of how scientists were able to surmise the earliest date of fitted & sewn clothing by analyzing the DNA of the body louse, and continues on from there, covering topics as wide-ranging as social dynamics and warfare in prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies, to the genetic history of isolated populations like Icelanders and Ashkenazi Jews, from the first domestication of dogs to a long-running Russian experiment in domesticating silver foxes. Other topics discussed include efforts to find the proto-language of the first modern humans; race and genetics; warfare among chimpanzees as compared to warfare as practiced in prehistory; whether Celts were pushed into remote corners of the British Isles or assimilated into the general population after the Saxon conquest of England; and the origins of organized religion.
Thought-provoking and has certainly gotten me to rethink a few things.
This was an extremely interesting portrait of the Frankish ruler who became the first Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne was the original Renaissance man, a great general who was also keenly intellectual and deeply religious, who encouraged scholarship and unified much of post-Roman Europe. The narrator is quite pleasant to listen to--a very professorial British voice, but the sound effects at the chapter breaks--clashing armor, medieval chants and songs (some from 400 years after Charlemagne's time)--and an odd echo-chamber effect used when quoting contemporary accounts of certain events--are very distracting.
I bought this book on impulse during one of Audible's $4.95 sales, and boy am I glad I did! This book is a fascinating tour through a number of murder cases and investigations in New York between 1890 and 1930, touching on social history, chemistry, and the evolution of criminology and forensic science. The story is as much about the struggle of the NYC coroner to re-establish the reputation of his dept. after a series of inept Tammany Hall political appointees bungled their ways through various poisoning cases, as about the development of the science of detecting whether someone's been poisoned or died of natural causes. It's a great listen--interesting material and anecdotes, well-told, that paint a vivid picture of life during the Industrial Age, when foods, over-the-counter medicines, furnishings, clothing, and workplaces were commonly laced with poisons like arsenic and mercury, and when hundreds of people a year died of accidental poisonings before the Pure Food and Drug Act and various occupational safety laws came into effect. Very enjoyable, and I'm definitely going to look and see what else this author has written. So, if you're in the mood for a historical CSI-type book, I highly recommend this one!
Fluidly written and wonderfully narrated, THE RED QUEEN provides an engrossing portrait of Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII, first of the Tudor rulers. From early childhood, Margaret is enthralled by the story of Joan of Arc, and longs to emulate her in a life of piety and heroic deeds. Instead, she's married off at the age of twelve to a much older man, and gives birth at age thirteen. As she endures these tribulations, she hardens in her conviction that God has chosen her for a special destiny, and focuses all her will on the Lancaster cause and her son Henry, taken from her at an early age and awarded to a series of guardians. Unfortunately for the reader, the sorrows and tragedies of her life harden Margaret into a narrow-minded fanatic, who has little compassion or empathy for those around her. Her second husband, Henry Stafford, is a kind, gentle, and wise man who adores her and treats her with kindness and consideration, but blinded by ambition and with a heart turned to stone, she does not return his love, choosing time and again to betray him politically in favor of her Lancaster relations. The book is very interesting, and I really like the narrator, but I'm afraid I have little sympathy for Margaret, who is hopelessly self-centered, priggish, and narrow-minded. It's a compelling glimpse into a period of history that I'm not that familiar with, and Philippa Gregory's interpretation of Margaret Beaufort's character does explain many of Margaret's real-life deeds, but she is not nearly as sympathetic as the protagonist of THE WHITE QUEEN, Elizabeth Woodville. Well worth a listen if you're interested in the War of the Roses, but don't expect to like Margaret very much.
Although the topic of this lecture series is the Decline and Fall, the lectures actually cover the entire period of the Roman Empire, from the end of the Republic, to the end of the succeeding Empire. Professor Madden's lecture style is smooth and fairly fast-paced, and he has an interesting theory about why the Roman Empire eventually collapsed. I'm a Roman history buff, and I really enjoyed listening to these lectures. Definitely well-worth my time!
This audiobook was a wonderful escape from my dreary December into the bright, lively world of post-war France.
Julia Child writes with vivid and loving detail of her years in Paris and Marseilles with her beloved husband, chronicling her education as a cook, her friendships, the writing of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and her many adventures in the shops, markets, and kitchens of Paris. Delightful!
I first read this book when I was twelve, and listening to it now, I found myself just as enchanted. This is an excellent reading, and the narrator performs a variety of character voices and accents that add to the experience. Still a damned good SF story, despite its age, and highly recommended!
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