Beverly Hills, CA | Member Since 2012
Before Catherine the Great by Robert Massie, my interest in Russian history was second only to that of watching a second coat of beige paint dry.
A friend told me how much he enjoyed CTG - and I grudgingly ordered the audio.
Before you could say Sputnik, I was fully engaged in Massie's masterful story. Deakins is a superb narrator.
Political thriller, Romance, History Lesson . . . CTG reigns supreme.
Admittedly, it took me months to get going with this book. Many stop-starts.
It baffled me that with such great reader reviews - I couldn't get hooked.
Well, like almost everything in life, it had to be about ME. Which is to say, as soon as I saw how I could personally benefit from the information, I was dedicated to every word.
I can't be alone here. Aren't we always more interested when it concerns our needs? It's the classic, "What's in it for me?" query.
As a part-time college teacher, I soon began to see ways I could incorporate his concepts into my lesson plans. In this case, an Interpersonal Communication course. The beauty is that he takes scholarly findings and applies them to real-life examples from various fields (e.g., business, the arts) while also expanding their implications for one's life.
The key, however, is Malcolm Gladwell is also a world-class narrator. As we all know, not all authors make great narrators.
True, only Christopher Hitchens can deliver his lines with such acerbic aplomb. However, Eckhart Tolle's work would be better served with a far more pleasant-sounding messenger.
To his great credit, Mark Leibovich, who has a perfectly nice voice, never-the-less wisely chose the terrific Joe Barrett for This Town.
It makes a difference how the message is delivered, and it certainly does in the case of The Tipping Point.
The point is this: A book is ultimately not about the author - after it leaves his/her hands - it is about the reader. In the case of The Tipping Point, Gladwell understands this as both a writer and narrator.
Leibovich lovingly lambasts This Town's most prominent insiders and inside outers - while copping to his own complicity as a member of The Club.
As both muckraker and media muck, the vet journalist exposes the success of excess so superbly, the listener is compelled to laugh even as his stomach churns.
Joe Barrett's narration is excellent - most appreciated when he voiced famous people - never mimicking - but "suggesting" a subject's unique vocal qualities.
Barrett also understood the humor - and when to push or let it ride.
The total effect is one of both knowing and utter disbelief that our nation's capital seduces even the most well-intentioned with the siren song of greed.
Hail to the Thief.
Brown's attention to detail anchors this showstopping underdog story. Impossible not to root for these boys as they attempt to achieve the unthinkable. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Hermann's performance was stellar. The one exception was his mispronunciation of certain proper nouns in the Pacific Northwest region.
Just as any South Dakotan knows that capital city Pierre is pronounced "Peer" . . . anyone from Washington, Northern Idaho and Western Montana would pronounce the "Bon" in "Bon Marche" like "Bon as in Yawn". Likewise, "Kootenai" is pronounced "Koo-ten-nee". Finally, "Coeur d’Alene" is pronounced "Core-duh-Lane" by natives.
Hermann mispronounced all three - seemingly to rely on phonetics and French origins. No excuses for this. Producer or someone should have checked this out. The Washington Boys are rowing in their graves.
If there was a God, I would want Him to bless Christopher Hitchens.
His careful, articulate, well researched and reasoned arguments are superb.
Finally, someone has said the Emperor is wearing only his birthday suit.
The only complaint is that Hitchens tends to drop the ends of his sentences to a low frequency - and I found it rather difficult to hear his last bits.
Overall, I am thrilled that he douses the Fire & Brimstone Crowd with both Common Sense and Thorough Scholarship.
Sensational. Jacqueline Kennedy in her own words - terrific. Fascinating and truly compelling to hear her perspective. I admire her tremendously.
The Rest of the Cast:
If you can get past Caroline Kennedy's delivery - her typical snooze-fest monotone - her introduction is interesting. Why on earth no one ever bothered to give her a speech lesson when her father was one of the greatest orators in modern history is beyond me. She's simply awful every time she opens her mouth.
Michael Beschloss is far more interesting to listen to. Quite nice.
Schlesinger reveals himself to be a pompous bore - pretentious and overbearing.
But Jackie . . . Oh, Jackie! Classy, funny, intelligent, candid, lovely.
Larson's In the Garden of Beasts is excellent. He unpacks one of the most fascinating and studied moments in history and reveals the hard truth of hindsight. It's 20/20.
Sitting comfortably in 2013, we can pat ourselves on the back and say we would have done everything in our power to stop Hitler's rise. Indignantly, we will stomp our feet and judge the men and women who sat "idly by" and did nothing as Hitler and his thugs seized control of Germany and pulled the world into chaos.
But then Larson puts us in the moment - Berlin - the epicenter of it all. And without benefit of a crystal ball, we are left with the uncomfortable question: Would we truly have seen the danger signs? If so, would we have had the courage to act?
Perhaps those close enough to actually make a difference, were so far inside the belly of the beast, they could not see the teeth.
What a joy to hear the author read his extraordinary book. If you are even thinking about reading or purchasing the audio version, do not wait another moment.
The best autobiography or biography I have ever "heard" . . . Truly remarkable.
The author does not make the mistake of painting himself as the hero of his own narrative - bravo to him and even better for us.
Honest, profound, intriguing . . . a Love Letter to Life
One hesitates to write a review of a book - any book - when one has not written or published a book - any book - and probably never will. But alas, here I am.
The Art of Fielding has one hell of a great dust cover - and there is some easy transition here to the adage "Never judge a book by . . . " but I will spare all of you.
Truth be told, this novel starts out like gangbusters. Spectacularly rewarding. The prose vivid and lively. Characters are rich and intriguing - plot is compelling. The roster of characters the author lines up to bat seem to be drafted from the Island of Misfit Toys - truly inspired.
But by the bottom of the 7th inning, each character's most admirable qualities are their undoing and the spirit of the book seeps out. I had to push myself to finish, if only out of respect for the author. But it was sour going in the home stretch.
If we wanted to feel miserable, we'd be spending time with our family - not reading a book.
The Art of Fielding leaves us with no one left to root for, staggering from the stands wondering what we had just witnessed - a mercy rule or simply a rain out.
Report Inappropriate Content