I learned so much from this book. I must admit I had not read or studied anything about the history of the first amendment before. This absorbing book is about the law and also about change, how one man's thinking evolved nearly 100 years ago. For 125 years the first amendment was essentially dead until Holmes wrote his dissent in 1919. Thomas Healy shows us how Holmes was educated/persuaded to change his mind about the meaning and reach of our most fundamental safeguard. His friends, Justice Brandeis, Judge Learned Hand, Harold Laski, Felix Frankfurter, Zechariah Chafee (all teachers at Harvard) and others had discussion, letter exchanges and loaned or gave him books to read. Holmes was a voracious reader and during his summer breaks he devoured books that challenged his thinking. Holmes also had a habit we should all learn, he listened to people who didn't agree with him and set about to learn more about the topic from all view points.
The rule, at the time, borrowed from British practice, was that you could speak and publish freely without fear of prior restraint, but once you had spoken, the State had the freedom to prosecute you. Holmes had written the majority opinion in Debs V U.S. upholding the conviction. Eugene Debs was the Socialist candidate for President. He gave a campaign speech and was arrested after for violation of the Sedition act and sentence to 10 years in prison. I found this interesting because via Audible I had read "1920: The year of six Presidents" by David Pietrusza and "Clarence Darrow" by John A. Farrell. Darrow was Debs attorney. Both these books provided a great deal of information about Debs and the above mentioned case. Holmes had been a defender of the power of government to punish controversial speech. He was a Boston Brahmin and his friends were owners of big business so he dismissed the fight of and for unions and the problems of the workers.
I found it fascinating how Holmes's friend educated him at age 78 to change his mind. . When the Court reconvened in the fall they heard the case Abrams V U.S. Holmes decided to write the dissent opinion in the case and changed the Frist Amendment forever. He provided guidelines to help determine when the speech crossed the line, he stated "clear and present danger of public harm" to be the key. The Abrams case is covered in-depth in the book so I will not spoil it by going into it. Danny Campbell did a good job with the narration. This is a book I am going to read again.
When I heard Barbara Mertz died on August 8, 2013, I looked her books up to see if there was any I had missed reading. Mertz wrote under the name Elizabeth Peter and Barbara Michaels. Under Peter’s she is well known the Abigail Peabody series and under Michaels the Vicky Bliss series. Mertz was an archeologist who wrote mystery novels with an archeology background. I had never heard of the Jacqueline Kirby books until now. I had read all the other books so decided to give the Kirby book a try. Mertz provided a great deal of Roman history in a sort of sightseeing trip about Rome with Kirby and the group of graduate students. Kirby had a dry since of humor and the student’s were quick with the witty replies made for a few good laughs while reading. The mystery seemed to be secondary to the history of Rome and the interaction of the group of students. I was about 2/3 the way through the story before I thought I had figured who did it but the reason why was a surprise. I had thought there was not much of a plot to the story but obviously I was wrong. Thought it was great the hero was a librarian. Grace Conlin did a good job narrating the story.
John Hay (1838-1905) spent his early life in Warsaw, Illinois a son of a doctor. He attended Brown University and study law in an uncle’s law office (with A. Lincoln) in Springfield Ill. He was adapt with languages and learned German, French, Latin and Greek. He helped on the 1860 campaign of Abraham Lincoln where he met John Nicolay. He and Nicolay became Lincoln private secretaries when he was elected President. He married Clara Stone daughter of the wealthy Ohio Industrialist. Hay’s served as undersecretary of state to Rutherford B. Hayes, he also served James A. Garfield. He became Ambassador to England for William McKinley and after a year his Secretary of State. He also served Theodore Roosevelt as Secretary of State. I found it interesting that 3 of the president Hay served were assassinated. During Hay’s career he was a journalist, writer, poet, businessman and politician. Between the highlights I have listed John Taliaferro packed a lot of information about Hay’s life and his career. I noted from the information provided by Taliaferro Hay played key roles in several area’s when he was Secretary of State, the open door policy about China, the role he played with the creation of Panama. When he was Ambassador to England he played a key role in developing positive relationship with England. Taliaferro provided great insight into John Hay the man but I feel he relied too much on Hay’s own papers and a few other manuscripts when writing about Hay’s the diplomat. It would have been great if he had obtained insight about Hay’s from foreign archival material to better portray his diplomatic role. Taliaferro attempted to provide an unbiased view of Hay revealing his faults as well as his virtues. The last biography of Hay was Tyler Dennett’s “John Hay: From Poetry to Politics” written eighty years ago. It was about time we had another look at this interesting man and the role he play during a critical time in our history. Joe Barrett did a good job narrating the book. If you are interested in history this is a must read book.
This is the first book I have read by Anita Shreve. I found the opening of the book gripping. I could imagine walking up not knowing where you are or who you are. Shreve has a young woman waking up in a military hospital in France in 1916, suffering from pneumonia, shell shock and debilitating pains in her feet from shrapnel. She cannot remember her name but remember she was a nurse’s aid and drove an ambulance. Stella spoke only a little French but a nun spoke English, from Stella’s accent they tried to figure out if she was Canadian or American. Shreve writes with a quite urgency about aspects of life during world war one. The descriptions of Stella’s time in the field and hospital in France are especially compelling. She delves into the nature of shell shock and memory loss. Shreve has created a memorable character in Stella, a woman more independent and forth right than the male authorities of 1916 are comfortable dealing with. One of the key attributes of Stella is she does not give up no matter how hard or dangerous the going may be. Toward the end of the book the extensive dialogue and courtroom testimony moves the story along swiftly. I like the way she ties up everything at the end of the book. I think Shreve did a good job showing the turmoil of the time and the rapidly social changes occurring during WWI. Hope Davis did a good job narrating the story.
This book on Titian by Mark Hudson is really not a biography but a story of Hudson traveling around Venice searching for information on the last days of Titian. He takes us on a hunt for the house he died in during the plague of 1576. As Hudson wanders the city he describes the various painting by Titian in great depth and detail. He does attempt to show how Titian evolves as a painter from apprentice to old age. He appears to have a great deal of difficulty finding information about Titian as a man in the last days of his life. What brought me to read the book was a remark that said Titian was the most famous artist in the world and he never suffered from the dark decay of public neglect that has afflicted so many other artists from Guido Reni to Van Gogh. I thought if he is so famous why I have never heard of him. I am not an artist nor have I studied art but I have read a few biographies of artist and thought I knew some of the more popular famous ones. So I read this book to bring my art education up to date. Hudson does a good job of revealing the constant intrigue and backstabbing of the renaissance world. After reading the description of some of the pictures by Titian I did go on line and look at a few paintings. Hudson states that after Titian death Venice gathered many of Titian painting to display but the building caught fire and many were lost. Over all it has been an interesting education and enjoyable tour of Venice. Napoleon Ryan narrated the book.
Stephanie Plum, bond enforcement agent, with side kick Lulu must track down a mob boss charged with murder. It turns out that the boss is Stephanie’s boy friend Joe Morelli’s uncle and everyone in the Berg is blocking her from finding him. Morelli’s Sicilian aunt has given Stephanie “the eye” twice and is sending her to hell. I read this series for a laugh. The exploits are so outrageous and Stephanie and Lulu are in revolving mayhem. This book has Lulu chasing a giraffe through the streets of the Berg. The giraffe does not seem to be related to anything else in the story. The book is quick easy to read and funny. Makes a good change of pace, get away from it all book but I think the series has run its course and needs to end. The book is narrated by Lorelei King who does her usual good job.
I have a friend who is a Jungian scholar who is writing a book on some aspect of Jung. When I saw this short book I jumped at it, thinking I could learn a bit about Jung so I would not feel so stupid when we get together. The only thing I knew about Jung was what I had read back in 1971 when I read Irving Stone’s “The Passions of the Mind” about the life of Sigmund Freud. Stone is the master of the biographical novel. The book on Freud was fascinating. The author of this book is Dr. Anthony Stevens a British psychiatrist and Jungian analyst. He has co-author several books on evolutionary psychiatry. Dr. Stevens’ book is a well written, comprehensive over view of Jung’s ideas and biography. He explains Jung’s relationship with Freud and refutes the anti-Semitism charges that floated around since before World War Two. It is obvious that Dr. Stevens did a great deal of research and has the magnificence ability to summarize a complex person and his ideas and system of psychology into understandable and interesting book for a lay person. Tim Pigott-Smith did a great job narrating the book.
The story opens with Dr. Kay Scarpetta recovering from a bout of flu after a weekend working the mass killings at Sandy Hook elementary School in Newton Conn. The action opens on a dark and stormy winter’s night on the eve of Benton’s birthday with Detective Pet Marino waking Scarpetta at 4:30 a.m. to go to a crime scene. She feels she is being watched and takes her gun to let the dog out in the back yard ---are you starting to get a feeling here---the story does not let up until the end of the book everything taking place within a twenty-four hour period. The main characters in this story are Dr. Kay Scarpetta, her niece Lucy Farinelli, FBI profiler husband Benton Wesley and Detective Pet Marino. Cornwell used ideas right out of the news and included her own experience suing a money management corporation, along with her usual serial killer, and a corrupt FBI agent. I was less interested in the psychology of the FBI profiler and more interested in Lucy’s cutting edge technology and her forensic app. The book bogged down with all the back stories and repeat of information. Most of us have read all her books and do not want to waste time reviewing the stories of the past books. I think Cornwell did a better job with this book than the past 5 or so. Hope she gets back to the standard of her first books and please no more serial killers. The book was narrated by Kate Reading who did a good job.
I have never read anything about Henry Ford until this book except when mention in a biography of another person such as John D. Rockefeller and his business dealings with Ford. Richard Snow covers Ford’s life from childhood to death but mostly concentrates on the area of his developing his engine and first cars. I found it interesting that Ford was in some ways was brilliant in his ability to see the end results of his car design and able to devote all his energy and time to develop it and then in his ability to deal with people he failed miserably. He failed at building two car companies before his success with the Ford Motor Company. He was the first to develop the assembly line or mass production and World War Two triggered more companies to quickly follow his methods of mass production. He attracted too him men of great skill’s and ability but then he pitted them against each other and he would fire the looser. He hired more black Americans than any other auto company but as he aged he revealed he was anti-Semitic. He distrusted bankers, Wall Street men and other financial people to the point he never invested in Wall Street which saved him in 1929. He hated investors and he maneuvered his company when it was successful to get rid of his primary investors and became the largest stock holder of the company. He hated to have anyone tell him what to do. According to Snow after he got control of Ford he appointed his son Edsel as company president but he never let go of the control of the company. As I read the book I got the feeling that Ford was his own worst enemy. All these contradiction and Snow’s excellent writing ability reveals an interesting story. It is obvious that Snow did a great deal of research to write the book. Sean Runnett did a great job narrating the book.
Amy Tan’s new book is narrated by seven year old Violet Minturn. Violet is an American girl born in Shanghai, of an American mother and Chinese father, but she American in manner and speech, who can also speak Chinese. Her Mother Lulu is the only white woman who owns a first-class courtesan house in 1905 Shanghai. She caters to both the western client and the wealthy Chinese. Violet learns early that her Mother‘s profession is not about sex but illusion. Tan depicts Lulu as an acute business woman able to take advantage of business opportunities in Shanghai. The story’s plot twist and turns, a life changing betrayal has Violet sold off to a courtesan house and Lulu on her way to San Francisco thinking Violet is dead. The story ranges from 1900 to 1939 during the turbulent times of World War One, the 1918 flu pandemic to the rise of Chian Kai-Shek and the Chinese Communist party to the brink of World War II, through all this Tan weaves the story of Lulu and Violet. Tan’s great descriptions and twisty plot makes for a book that is hard to put down. Three women narrate the book Nancy Wo, Joyce Bean and Amy tan.
This book was recommended by one of the people I follow on Audible. Miranda Carter writes an artful and sometime lumbering new group biography. Carter shows that the three Royals were ill-equipped by education and personality to deal with the modern world, marooned by history in positions increasingly out of kilter with the modern era. George, Nicholas and Wilhelm two were Queen Victoria’s grandchildren and the Nicholas, was her grandchild-in-law. They were fond of each other and it was thought their blood ties, could affect long-term peace in Europe. The myth was shredded by World War I. This is a book about ideas as well as history. The big question Miranda Carter poses is “to what degree can close personal relationship between Royals or the world leaders, prevent war?” This is the question that leaders of the world today contemplate. Carter tells the story of each of the Royals and then writes incisively about the overlapping events that led to the Great War and a changed world. The way Carter wrote I felt as if I was at times reading a soap opera about a dysfunctional family. The book is attractively written and well researched by British historian Miranda Carter. I am impressed with her ability and will be seeking out more of her books. Rosalyn Landor did a good job narrating the book. If you are interested in history this is a book for you especially as next year is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One.
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