I'm a huge fan of The Modern Scholar, using nearly every monthly credit to purchase a new course. John Ramsden's lecture on WWI ranks with the best I've heard, offering a master historian's perspective on a conflict that shaped the remainder of the 20th century. Being more familiar with WWII, I was largely ignorant of the geopolitical, literary, artistic, medical, military, and psychological ramifications of the first war. This course is essential for anyone seeking to broaden their historical understanding.
Continuing the adventure of Tiro and Cicero, Harris once again weaves historical fact into a meticulously layered tale of intrigue and murder. The stakes are raised as Cicero's enemies grow in power, with the deadly, shadowy apparatus of conspiracy working against our heroes. If you loved "Imperium", you'll be captivated by every moment of "Conspirata". Settling back into sights and smells of Ancient Rome is as satisfying as meeting an old, dear friend.
Simon Jones, who ranks with John Lee as one of the great vocal performers, returns with his wonderful characterizations of Crassus, Caesar, Pompey, and every other scheming, backstabbing Roman power player. Jones' reading immerses you completely into Harris' Rome, presenting some of the most famous personages in history as the very real, very flawed people they were.
There isn't much I can say about the novel itself that hasn't been covered in the last hundred-and-sixty years, but suffice it to say that the plot is just as thrilling, the characters as vibrant, and the themes as relevant as they were when the book was first published.
It's John Lee's narration that makes listening to Dumas' seminal work such a great pleasure. His ability to create the most distinct voices without resorting to caricature is a rare ability, even for a vocal performer, and his mastery of the varied accents of Dumas' world -- Italian, Greek, British -- and his impeccable pronunciation of French names and places, is a marvel to behold.
Next to The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich, this has been the longest audiobook I've taken on, at about 46 hours, and not for a moment was I the least bored. For a whole month, Edmund Dantes, his myriad personas, friends and enemies were my constant companions. I hope you too decide to take the extraordinary journey offered by the great Alexandre Dumas, and his modern interpreter John Lee.
Fans of Robert Harris's previous works dealing with Ancient Rome, Imperium and Conspirata, will thrill to his masterfully researched Pompeii -- surely one of the great works of historical fiction. Harris's talent lies in vivifying the past, making it as colorful and immediate as the present, and creating timeless characters who, while two-thousand years in the grave by our calendar, command our undivided attention.
This is the second work I've listened to which had been narrated by John Lee (the first being The Count of Monte Christo, which I wholeheartedly recommend), and I'm convinced he's one of the greatest living vocal artists. Every sentence, every line of dialogue, every character is masterfully rendered, imbued with brilliant subtleties in delivery and inflection, giving the impression you're listening to a whole troupe of actors.
Riveting, suspenseful, enlightening
Mr. Jones gives a brilliant, nuanced reading, imbuing each character with their own distinct and easily recognizable voices. One of the finest voice-over artists I've ever heard.
Author Robert Harris and reader Simon Jones are a terrific pairing.
Professor Drout achieves a triumph with his "A Way With Words" series. This first lecture acts as a kind of mental jump start -- spurring the listener on to greater independent analysis of language, and, more importantly, a true appreciation for speech. Drout offers brilliant insights on famous speeches, explains common logical fallacies (a real treat for those who enjoy arguing), and gives a crash course on lifesaving grammatical tricks. Rarely do we encounter a teacher who goes beyond intruction and into the realm of inspiration, but Professor Drout, with his delightful humor, personality, and total mastery of his subject, does so seemingly without effort. Since listening to the course, my writing has been more coherent, my thoughts clearer, and my speech more direct. I look forward to listening to Drout's other works.
- J.S., Los Angeles
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