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Aarhus V, Denmark | Member Since 2014

  • 4 reviews
  • 31 ratings
  • 255 titles in library
  • 9 purchased in 2015

  • William Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Peter Saccio

    Shakespeare's plays - whether a comedy like A Midsummer Night's Dream, a history like Henry IV, or a tragedy like Hamlet - are treasure troves of insight into our very humanity. These 36 lectures introduce you to Shakespeare's major plays from each of these three genres and explain the achievement that makes him the leading playwright in Western civilization.

    Mikkel says: "Connections across genres"
    "Connections across genres"
    What made the experience of listening to William Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies the most enjoyable?

    Peter Saccio unfolds an extremely varied interpretation looking both at the structure of entire plays and sometimes at single soliloquies. He has a flair for knowing the exact amount of context needed to make his point, so that he is never far from Shakespeare's text. Thoroughly recommended for people who enjoy exercising their interpretative muscles and thinking along.

    What about Professor Peter Saccio’s performance did you like?

    That he obviously lives and breathes Shakespeare in that he has a lifelong relationship with and passion for the plays. He rarely gets pver-excited, though, and comes off as an intelligent man saying intelligent things about a subject he knows a lot about. If you yourself like or love Shakespeare this is the next best thing to discussing the text with like-minded fellows.

    Any additional comments?

    Be aware that not all of Shakespeare's plays are considered, although the big four tragedies, The Henriad, Richard III, Measure for Measure,The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice must be said to be a quite a representative selection.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Storm of War

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Andrew Roberts
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    One of the best selling History titles of 2009. Examining the Second World War on every front, Andrew Roberts asks whether, with a different decision-making process and a different strategy, Hitler’s Axis might even have won. Were those German generals who blamed everything on Hitler after the war correct, or were they merely scapegoating their former Führer once he was safely beyond defending himself?

    John says: "Things I had never known!"
    "Comprehensively informative & convincingly argued"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I have already recommended this audiobook to several friends. I have done so because it is chock full of relevant information and analysis about one of the most formative events in contemporary history, and because it is narrated wonderfully.

    What did you like best about this story?

    Throughout the book this central argument bubbles beneath all of the stories and analysis: that nazi ideology and the inability of the German high command to override it was the deciding overall factor in the outcome of the war. While the narrative still gives plenty of room to descriptions of every single front in the war as well as many of the most famous people involved, it never looses sight of the overarching purpose of the book, which is to find documentation for the central argument. Still, you will find plenty of witness accounts not only from the top of the top, but often from people who have bled and suffered and died in this mind-boggingly massive conflict.

    What about Christian Rodska’s performance did you like?

    At first I had my doubts about Rodska's approach. He takes on an impressive amount of accents when reading the quotations from witnesses in the book, and what put me off was not this, but the characters he adopted when quoting the most famous people involved. His imitation of Churchill is quite good, but his Hitler seemed at first over the top. But as the narrative unfolded, it build the case that Hitler was primarily a domineering man of surprisingly little talent for such a prominent historical figure. As such the choice to voice him as an intense and dirty little man grows from being a charicature to actually illuminate the psyche of the despicable dictator.

    All in all the characterisation in the quotations pays off enormously in making the very, very long text come alive with a variety that is probably harder to convey effectively in the written medium (although I have not read the book in print). So if you're having trouble with it initially, stay the course. If nothing else, the Churchill impression is a hoot.

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

    Many moments, but let me mention two. An intellectual and an emotional.

    First the intellectual moment: re-listening to the book I was startled when around the middle suddenly popped up a chapter on the Holocaust. As all the other chapters are arranged as analysis of the different fronts reviewed chronologically, this was structurally weird, since the chapter spanned the entire war. But then it dawned on me. Coming as it was halfway through, it sat beautifully as a reminder of why the seemingly indestructible nazi war machine collapsed: because of the cruel and inflexible nazi ideology epitomised in the horrors of the concentration camps and their meaningless and ressource demanding slaughter of civilians. Realising this structure was a moment of intellectual clarity that stayed with me, and made the review of the atrocities more bearable.

    Then the emotional one. Soldiers marching back from the front in Russia, where the witness describing their march suddenly realises that they have no eyelids, because they have frozen off in the cold. This stark image of the scars of warfare suffered by the common soldier for a cause he has little influence on and reaps no benefit from sacrificing himself for has stayed with me ever since I first heard of it.

    Any additional comments?

    This is history at its finest - a faithful rendering of events that slowly build up evidence for an interpetration of the meaning of said events in a larger context. I cannot recommend this wonderful audiobook enough.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Catholic Church: A History

    • ORIGINAL (19 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor William R. Cook

    How did the Catholic Church become one of the most influential institutions in the world-a force capable of moving armies, inspiring saints, and shaping the lives of a billion members? Explore these and other questions as you follow the development of this important institution in 36 informative, fascinating lectures. With Professor Cook by your side, you'll step into the world of the early church, witness the spread of Christendom, and learn about the origins of fundamental church institutions.

    P. Johnson says: "Thorough history presented in a compelling manner"
    "Rambling at the sentence and structural level"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Most of my time listening to this book was not well spent, since there is a lack of overall structure to the lectures. Little stories and tidbits of information were pointed out to be important without ever being given a context as to why they were important.

    For example, an entire lecture is devoted to the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church and it is continually pointed out by Professor Cook that it is very important for catholics to think of them. But only at the end a context is sketched out as to why, and yet it makes very little sense. In another of the late lectures the consequences of Vatican II are adressed, but again they are merely labeled important and the listener is left hanging.I feel that a lot of this wasted time is due to the fact that Professor Cook is clearly speaking to people like himself rather than to the average listener. That is to say, he is speaking to an American Catholic who knows quite a bit about the religious institution he belongs to and can himself provide the context. More about this below.

    Thus, this lecture series seems more like a commentary on the history of the Catholic Church rather than an overview, which disappointed me quite a lot.However, there were a couple of interesting little pieces of information that sparked my curiosity and the parts of Church history that I already knew a good deal about and could provide my own context for were fairly well brushed up.

    What didn’t you like about Professor William R. Cook’s performance?

    There are two parts to Professor Cook's performance that I'd like to comment on: one is his use of dynamic voice and the other is his use of perspective in language.

    Professor Cook clearly attempts to provide dynamism at the sentence level of his lecturing by putting the emphasis on different words throughout the sentence, making pauses and in general avoiding the monotone droning that cliché associates with lecturing. In this he succeeds, but unfortunately he does so at the cost of understanding. It is apparently randomised which words the professor chooses to put extra emphasis on, which often confuses the meaning. One could argue that this should keep the listener on his or her toes - but then it is at best a cheap trick.

    What it does produce - at least in this listener - is a weariness of the rambling nature of Professor Cook's lecturing style. Coupled with the very clear perspectivism that I mention above - that of an American Catholic with a more than average involvement in his faith - the lectures were at times so idiosyncratic that I tuned out. There is only so many times one can endure alienation by the constant use of the pronoun "we" to indicate both speaker and audience as members of the Catholic faith.

    I have nothing against a clear and internal perspective in lectures about institutions - but these lectures were presented as being for the general public, and it seems that Professor Cook is not really aware of the alienation he creates with his language.

    To clarify: I am not offended, but it did put me off many times during the listening.

    It is also worth mntioning that Professor Cook's voice is very "wet-sounding", although I adjusted to this very quickly. I would, however, recommend that you hear a sample before buying simply to check out this aspect.

    Could you see The Catholic Church: A History being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    I could not see a TV series based on this. There is too little narratuve structure, since the lectures bascally just detail a series of things that happen and are underlined as important without ever giving the proper context.

    Any additional comments?

    I listened all the way through, which may be weird when seen in concert with my comments above. I kept hoping for a betterment when the series got to the time I knew little of in Church history (Dark Ages and post-renaissance) but alas it was not forthcoming.

    As mentioned, enough little tidbits of weird information was spread throughout to keep me at it, but in the end I cannot possibly recommend this lecture series.

    9 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • A Short History of Film

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Wheeler Winston Dixon, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon

    The history of international cinema is now available in a concise, conveniently sized, and affordable volume. Succinct yet comprehensive, A Short History of Film provides an accessible overview of the major movements, directors, studios, and genres from the 1880s to the present.

    Alan says: "A fascinating textbook - (is that possible?)"
    "Nice overview; irritating narrator"
    What made the experience of listening to A Short History of Film the most enjoyable?

    The comprehensive overview of movie history that never loses the thread.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Short History of Film?

    Realising how many classic films I want to find and watch, especially more with Alec Guiness in them.

    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes, but the narrator has a very annoying habit of making little pauses before emphasis and when titles and concepts are mentioned, which makes it sound as though the narrator is surprised by this every single. It gets very annoying, but does not stand in the way of the information - only of great enjoyment. There is also a slight tendency to a movie trailer-like sentimentality in the narration from time to time.

    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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