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Charles Fred Smith

Plano, Texas | Member Since 2006

129
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 35 reviews
  • 245 ratings
  • 611 titles in library
  • 21 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
14

  • WAR

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Sebastian Junger
    • Narrated By Sebastian Junger
    Overall
    (915)
    Performance
    (410)
    Story
    (412)

    Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat - the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another. His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley.

    Jeffrey Dame says: "Why we fight re-visited"
    "Today's War"
    Overall

    Outstanding!!! This book shows the evolution of war into the dirty, politically driven effort that we find in the 21st Century. After reading the book, and seeing the movie "Restrepo" which was done by Junger, I came away asking myself "What is in Afghanistan that is worth this?" The book is extremely well done and captures the spirit of some excellent soldiers caught up in another situation where America is trying to recreate itself in a backward nation with no interest in change and no value of life.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk: The Turning Point of World War II

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs)
    • By Dennis E. Showalter
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (154)
    Performance
    (137)
    Story
    (140)

    While the Battle of Kursk has long captivated World War II aficionados, it has been unjustly overlooked by historians. Drawing on the masses of new information made available by the opening of the Russian military archives, Dennis E. Showalter at last corrects that error. This battle was the critical turning point on World War II's Eastern Front. In the aftermath of the Red Army's brutal repulse of the Germans at Stalingrad, the stakes could not have been higher.

    Frank J. Habic says: "Rich got ot right"
    "Kursk Overview"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an extremely readable overview of the Soviet-Nazi War from 1941-43. It provides an excellent overview of the pivotal tank battle of Kursk in July 1943. This is an excellent book to get started reading (or listening to) the immensity of the "Great Patriotic War". The book is not intended to be a detailed reference on the Battle of Kursk but it conveys the awesome size of the involvement. If you are searching detail on Prokoravka-Kursk then go to Zamulin's "Myths Uncovered" but for an overall understanding of the battle and its impact on the war, I highly recommend this book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Wilson

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By A. Scott Berg
    • Narrated By Jeremy Bobb
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (119)
    Performance
    (107)
    Story
    (108)

    A hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize-winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson - the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the 28th President. This is not just Wilson the icon - but Wilson the man.

    Jean says: "A complex man"
    "The Wilson All Should Know"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Berg is an outstanding biographer. I chose this book because I enjoyed his "Lindbergh". I was not disappointed. This should be required reading for young adults...and the rest of us as well. It is that well done in every respect.

    Wilson is arguably one of five American Presidents who had the most impact on subsequent generations. Berg traces Wilson's academic development (warts and all) and how he went from being President of Princeton to President of the US in two years without ever really becoming a "politician".. Wilson faced a time of rapid world change with an astounding view of the future. His policies were what eventually led to the American position of superpower. He was overcome during his lifetime by the inertia of empire stabilized world politics but the things he did not get finished came to fruition under FDR and Truman. This was a man (with "feet of clay") who had a vision that the world needed but took another war to realize.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Scott Anderson
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (378)
    Performance
    (322)
    Story
    (322)

    Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabiadefinitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present.

    Charles Fred Smith says: "The "Real" Story"
    "The "Real" Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I recommend this book without reservation to any reader who wants a better understanding of World War I in the Middle East. The Lawrence movie is only a small part of the adventures of five young intellectuals who had much to do with shaping the subsequent conflicts of the land once oil became the world currency..


    What did you like best about this story?

    Anderson deals with the underlying concerns of the European combatants of WWI in how they are going to grab the emerging area with all its potential riches and the nationalistic and cultural conflicts of the area.


    What about Malcolm Hillgartner’s performance did you like?

    The performance was good and did not add undue theatrics to the reading. He read the book well and left it at that.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This is modern history that few people have studied. Enlightenment is my feeling from reading it. This is a well written tale that was hard to put down.


    Any additional comments?

    I am planning to require the reading of this book in a college level class I will be teaching next spring.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Karl Marlantes
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4492)
    Performance
    (2644)
    Story
    (2644)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: A performance so poignant, we gave Bronson Pinchot (yes, Balki from Perfect Strangers) our inaugural Narrator of the Year award.... In the monsoon season of 1968-69 at a fire support base called Matterhorn, located in the remote mountains of Vietnam, a young and ambitious Marine lieutenant wants to command a company to further his civilian political ambitions. But two people stand in his way.

    Zachary says: "Matterhorn"
    "Life in the Sewer"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about Matterhorn? What did you like least?

    The technical presentation of the military operations was well done. The author tells the story of a platoon of Marine misfits in Viet Nam and spends all the time dealing with the problems that turned the public against the military: drugs, antisocial behavior, racism , careerism to name a few.. As a military retiree of that period until 1995, I find this is a textbook of what we spent 20 years trying to eliminate. It is like wallowing in the sewer.in the name of realism.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Berg's Wilson or Atkinson's "Day of Battle"


    What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

    The performance was a bit "overdone" but basically OK. The dialog is third grade level vocabulary sprinkled with "Fuck" used as every possible part of speech. I love Hemmingway and even like Derek Robinson writing of war but this is not war, this becomes an abomination to those of us who served..


    Do you think Matterhorn needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    NO!!! The author didn't really tell us anything in this one.


    Any additional comments?

    Only reason I listened to the entire book is because I was amazed at how bad it was.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Mimi Alford
    • Narrated By Susan Denaker
    Overall
    (118)
    Performance
    (100)
    Story
    (102)

    In the summer of 1962, 19-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived by train in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. The Kennedy Administration had reinvigorated the capital and the country - and Mimi was eager to contribute. For a young woman from a privileged but sheltered upbringing, the job was the chance of a lifetime. Mimi made an impression on Kennedy's inner circle and, after just three days at the White House, she was presented to the President himself....

    faye says: "Disturbing"
    "Surprised"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I bought this book on a lark because I am teaching a course on the Presidency in the 20th Century. The book turned out to be quite well done for what it is and provided insight into the private life of JFK. It is not tawdry or titillating in its approach to a delicate relationship and its effect on a 19 year old intern. The book says volumes about how the Presidency of the US is all about power. The author was perceptive of a situation which she knew would get her nowhere in the end. Her silence for the intervening years was admirable and the inside history, particularly during the Cuban Missile Crisis and assassination were interesting in understanding the JFK era.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Decision Points

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By George W. Bush
    • Narrated By Ron McLarty
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1557)
    Performance
    (703)
    Story
    (703)

    Decision Points is the extraordinary memoir of America's 43rd president. Shattering the conventions of political autobiography, George W. Bush offers a strikingly candid journey through the defining decisions of his life.

    Dave says: "Not a bad choice"
    "Spin"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    George Bush did a nice job of writing his autobiography which should be titled "I Really Am A Nice Guy Who is Married to an Angel". The gravity and repercussions of the decisions described goes far beyond the banal explanations of this book. The superficial spin applied to war against terror does not present any real "lessons learned" about poor planning, inadequate preparation and poor choices of staffers. Surprisingly, Bush does not address the incompetence of many his "chosen" who forced his decisions by poor staff work.. The best part where Bush seemed in his element was the story of his involvement with the Texas Rangers. I was disappointed in the book but the audio presentation was quite good.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944-1945

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Michael D. Doubler
    • Narrated By Mel Foster
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (17)

    Closing with the Enemy picks up where D-Day leaves off. From Normandy through the "breakout" in France to the German army's last gasp in the Battle of the Bulge, Michael D. Doubler deals with the deadly business of war - closing with the enemy, fighting and winning battles, taking and holding territory. His study provides a provocative reassessment of how American GIs accomplished these dangerous and costly tasks.

    Charles Fred Smith says: "Well Done Doubler"
    "Well Done Doubler"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The writing style may leave something to be desired but the content is most important to any student of WWII -Europe history. Doubler brings out the nitty-gritty of problems in the US training system, the replacement system and almost every other aspect of fighting modern war circa 1942. Only the artillery had their act together. From there he describes how we learned by doing and describes the pitfalls along the way. The content of this book is what makes it excellent. It could have been titled "How We Learned to Fight - the Hard Way"

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By T. R. Fehrenbach
    • Narrated By Kevin Foley
    Overall
    (184)
    Performance
    (134)
    Story
    (135)

    This Kind of War is a monumental study of the conflict that began in June 1950. Successive generations of U.S. military officers have considered this book an indispensable part of their education. T. R. Fehrenbach's narrative brings to life the harrowing and bloody battles that were fought up and down the Korean Peninsula.

    Charles Fred Smith says: "Korean War Classic - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly"
    "Korean War Classic - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly"
    Overall

    This book, originally published in 1963 ,is THE classic by which other Korean War histories may be measured. The author was a battalion commander in Korea and had the connections to get outstanding personal interest stories of his living contemporaries. He provides an unbiased telling of a story that Americans may want to forget but he makes a clear differentiation between the American military of 1945 and that of 1950. He deals with problems of funding neglect by Congress and training shortfalls by leadership of the American military after World War II. Fehrenbach deals with the campaigns as one who has been there. His insight into the politics of coalition warfare is excellent. If you want to read ONE book about Korea, this is it. It has detail, insight and intrigue which were all a part of the time.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War

    • ABRIDGED (13 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By David Halberstam
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    Overall
    (620)
    Performance
    (174)
    Story
    (173)

    Up until now, the Korean War has been the black hole of modern American history. The Coldest Winter changes that. Halberstam gives us a masterful narrative of the political decisions and miscalculations on both sides. He charts the disastrous path that led to the massive entry of Chinese forces near the Yalu, and that caught Douglas MacArthur and his soldiers by surprise. He provides astonishingly vivid and nuanced portraits of all the major figures.

    Doug says: "Almost as good as The Best and the Brightest"
    "Well Done, Updates Classic Fehrenbach"
    Overall

    David Halberstam's final book is a jewel. It is extremely readable (or listenable) and presents an unbiased approach to the Korean War. His research provides some post -iron curtain
    details not in the Fehrenbach classic which was written in 1963. This book is mandatory reading, or listening, in my advanced classes on Korea. It communicates with those seeking an answer to "why is Korea 'The Forgotten War'".

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Darkest Summer: Pusan and Inchon 1950: The Battles That Saved South Korea---and the Marines---from Extinction

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Bill Sloan
    • Narrated By Michael Prichard
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (26)

    The outcome of the Korean War was decided in the first three months. The Darkest Summer is the hour-by-hour, casualty-by-casualty story of those months---a period that saw American and UN forces almost driven into the sea by the North Korean invaders, then stage an incredible turn-around that reversed the entire course of the war.

    Parola138 says: "Great intro to Korea"
    "Better Told Elsewhere"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book tells of the travails of the UN forces in Korea in 1950. There is little here that is not in the Fehrenbach classic "This Kind of War" which deals with the war in its entirety. This book lacks focus if you are familiar with the basic plot, counterplot and subplot (MacArthur). It spends far more time with the Marines than with the details of what happened to Army 1st Cav, 2d, 24th and 25th Div and practically nothing on the ROK. Ex-Marines will like this book a lot.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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