This is a huge, sprawling, masterpiece of a book which chronicles the history of the US from the depression era through the early 70's. The writing is tremendous, very human, finely detailed and yet broad in scope. Concentrates much on biographies, but also enables one to understand economics, politics, wartime strategies, and more, through explanations that are very accessible to "lay readers". Extremely engaging, even thrilling.
Frustratingly, the recording is of extremely bad quality, with many- and I mean MANY skips which I presume to be from the source discs. This makes several sections quite hard to understand.
I am trying my best to keep going despite the terribly distracting skips. I don't want to tell you unequivocally to stay away, because it's such a fine work, and the narration is quite good too. But beware of this issue.
I am really enjoying listening to this selection. It's a lively history of the turbulent years of the late fifties through the early seventies, with an emphasis on understanding how the Nixon presidency played on and widened the polarizations that are still gripping this country: gaps in education, race, social standing. How Nixon's own jealousies and resentments helped him play on the resentments of the people whom he named "The Silent Majority".
The book is interesting, well written, never dry, and it's obvious the writer is completely engaged and passionate about his subject.
OK, that's the book. It's great.
I agree with Jerrold that the publisher of this audiobook should be ashamed of the shoddy job this reader did. Not only does he mispronounce many words, but more embarrassingly, names like Dean AY-chison, Sander VAN-oker, and more. Come one, these are people in history. How could an editor let this go by? It's tough not to find it a little distracting.
Nonethless, I can almost wholeheartedly recommend this listen. The quality of the book is good enough to ignore the idiocy of the reader.
I'm a professional musician and I spent an entire semester as an undergrad studying 20th century music, but there were many times during my listen to "The Rest..." when I went- hey, I didn't know that!
Ross starts us out at the turn of the 20th century in the hotbed that was German late-Romantic music (Strauss, Mahler), and we walk through the remainder of the 20th century, not necessarily in chronological order. Instead, Ross deals with places and chunks of time, putting composers and the way they wrote into the context of social and political history: Weimar Germany, Nazi Germany, 20's Paris, New-deal USA, Soviet Russia, Post- WWII Europe, 60's NYC, and so on. The trick for the listener is to remember that this is world history seen through the lens of music history.
Yeah, you're gonna learn quite a bit about what went on musically. But even if you already knew a lot about that, you're gonna understand what it was like to be a musician, why composers wrote music the way they did at certain times and places, and how people reacted to that music.
I would caution the listener that it's a fairly musically sophisticated book. Ross hastens to assure us that he did not write it as a music history text, but as a guide for the educated concertgoer/ listener, and I think that's true. However, be prepared for some fairly advanced terminology. This is not for the newcomer to the world of "classical" music.
It's taken me almost 2 months to wade through this book. It's long and dense, and I went back over some sections again because I just really wanted to absorb all the information. It's totally worth the work though, for a fine understanding of musical history and just-well- history. Ross also has a website connected with the book which is chock full of exerpted recordings of the pieces he discusses.
Learn! Listen! Enjoy!
Well written and well narrated story of the Frost/ Nixon interviews, now in the public consciousness again with the Broadway show "Frost/ Nixon" and next year's movie version. The story might remind one of "All the President's Men" or other political thrillers. A gripping account of the extensive research and uncovering of new information surrounding the Watergate robbery and coverup in preparation for David Frost's 1977 interviews with Richard Nixon (the author was on the team of researchers who prepped Frost), and how Frost, a "lightweight" in the world of journalism, was subsequently able to confront Nixon and get him to admit wrongdoing and culpability, something even Mike Wallace had failed to do.
A fascinating chapter in recent history. Wholeheartedly recommended!
I've read quite a bit of Bishop Spong's output over the past ten years or so. Most of his books function in this way: he spends a great deal of time debunking belief in reading the Bible in a literal way, going verse-by-verse and explaining its meaning in the context of a Jewish midrash reading. (metaphorical, not literal, and in many cases, NOT understanding the Hebrew Bible as prophesying the life of Jesus)
OK, I get that, and it IS really interesting.
But my frustration is this... I really don't see how Bishop Spong differs THAT much from, say, Richard Dawkins in his rejection of a personal god and his inability to cleave to "old time religion" in the face of the discoveries of modern science, especially evolutionary science. I get that, and I agree with him. But he keeps saying that, in spite of all this, he still sees Jesus Christ as his ultimate manifestation of the Divine, and is still able to call himself a Christian. I really would like to be able to take that final step with him, but he never explains how he does that. I was hoping that would be the subject of this new book, but he never does get there. It's yet another retread of the old de-bunking, not significantly different from his last book, "A New Christianity for a New World" (Where, incidentally, I also hoped he'd go there and didn't.)
In short, I've about had it with Bishop Spong because he's all about the negative (this is NOT true) and none about what shape that new kind of faith would take. I'm now hoping to find some writers that will help me figure that out.
I can't think of anything else I've ever read to which I can compare "Absurdistan". It has a bit of a superficial kinship with "Confederacy of Dunces"- it treads a little of the same political satire ground as "Catch 22"- but it is a truly original creation. Topically biting, endlessly entertaining, laugh out loud funny, yet it also has sweet moments; like any great fiction, you end up learning things about humanity.
Beautifully performed by Arte Johnson. Another reviewer has faulted his inconsistent dialect and "old man" sound; what he DOES have is the impeccable comic instinct and timing necessary to deliver this comedic masterpiece.
Let me preface this by saying that I LOOOOOOve Calvin Trillin's writing, have done so for the past 25 years. Both his food writing and his novels are always laugh out loud funny. It's impossible to understand why his narration of his own stuff is SO dreadful: monotone, no sense of comic timing or delivery.
How can he write like that and yet read like that???
I'm mystified. But my advice is, read his stuff, it's fabulous,...
but DON'T listen to it!
This is a well-publicized work by a well-known author (daughter of John Cheever); I picked it up after hearing a few interviews with the author on various NPR shows. It coincided with the interest I already had in the Transcendentalists.
I would recommend this title with some BIG caveats. As many have pointed out, there are several quite glaring factual errors in the book. (Please see the Amazon.com reviews for this title if you'd like more details about this)
The overall tone is light, chatty, even dishy and gossippy, and much more time is spent on the love lives and intrigues among the Hawthornes, Emersons, Thoreau brothers, Alcotts, Margaret Fuller, et al, than their lives of thought and literary output that was so profoundly influential to everything that followed in American culture.
OK, that having been said, I do think Cheever gets right a very superficial overview of the Concord group. It's a decent introduction for the absolute beginner. It's also appreciated that she gives equal weight to the women of the circle (which some other even contemporary books on this subject do not).
I hope the listener will use this selection as an intro in that way, then move on to other more scholarly works (Robert Richardson's bios of Emerson and Thoreau, Geldard's books on the spiritual teachings of Emerson) and then the works of the residents of Concord themselves, an amazing cluster of authors and thinkers.
This selection was entertaining enough to while away a trans-oceanic plane ride, but only just. We know Nora Ephron's reputation as a screenwriter ("Heartburn", "When Harry Met Sally").
I was expecting more humor. What I got was a lot of New York rich white woman whining on a lot of subjects that many of us are never in a position to consider (rent-controlled luxury apartments with doormen, for instance), leavened with sone (but not enough) wry wittiness.
The big disappointment comes toward the end, when Ephron begins to wax very negative and pessimistic on the subjects of aging and death. Very depressing, without so much as the relief of a smile!
Not awful, but not wonderful either.
I think this is probably going to be a very entertaining book to read. It's a spot-on recreation of the style of P. G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves and Wooster" stories, set in modern day.
BUT... why do authors think it's a good idea to do their own audiobooks?? What a dreadful reading this is! Monotone, boring, no vocal characterisations, no inflections at all! Ames could be reading stock quotes, it's so tedious.
So my recommendation is, get a copy of the book, read it, and imagine Jonathan Cecil or Martin Jarvis narrating it. You'll have a much mroe enjoyable experience.
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