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Tim

North Providence, RI, United States | Member Since 2010

20
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 10 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 9 purchased in 2014
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  • Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By John M. Barry
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    This is a story of power, set against Puritan America and the English Civil War. Williams's interactions with King James, Francis Bacon, Oliver Cromwell, and his mentor Edward Coke set his course, but his fundamental ideas came to fruition in America, as Williams, though a Puritan, collided with John Winthrop's vision of his "City upon a Hill."

    Bruce says: "Fascinating Story and Legacy"
    "Wonderful story with lots of context"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I originally downloaded this book for some history on Rhode Island (where I live), and was surprised by the amount of political and cultural context it provides, on both sides of the atlantic.

    A good deal of the first half is a sweeping tour of the culture and politics in england that pushed people to look to america to escape an increasingly volatile domestic front. It then details the events in the Massachusetts bay colony leading up to williams' exile and the formation of Rhode Island. In turn, it builds him up as the embodiment of the emigration movement, and ultimately of the independent and free spirit that sparked a revolution and led to the foundation of a new nation.

    It does a fantastic job of both painting a cultural picture of that time, as well as transposing its visible impact on the classic american frame of mind throughout the years. For a relatively concise book, it really covers a lot of ground in a very entertaining fashion.

    The end kind of trailed off unceremoniously, but it wasn't anything that would diminish my strong recommendation to check this one out.

    Also -- the narrator is quite good! He's definitely taken an acting class or two -- very dramatic and lively at times.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By H.W. Brands
    • Narrated By John H. Mayer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (216)
    Performance
    (87)
    Story
    (92)

    The most famous American of his time, Andrew Jackson is a seminal figure in American history. The first "common man" to rise to the presidency, Jackson embodied the spirit and the vision of the emerging American nation; the term "Jacksonian democracy" is embedded in our national lexicon. With the sweep, passion, and attention to detail that made The First American a Pulitzer Prize finalist, historian H.W. Brands shapes a historical narrative that's as fast-paced and compelling as the best fiction.

    Eric says: "Very Thorough"
    "Decent portrayal of a complicated life"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Personally, I'd always had a very low opinion of Jackson. The major talking points of his life and career tend to cast him in a pretty poor light. The cocky and brutish youth, the recalcitrant and high handed military chieftain, the uncompromising and nepotistic president - a quick survey of the facts paints the picture of a racist, mean-spirited bully without respect for any authority other than his own.

    This biography's main strength is that it tempers a lot of these negative characterizations, and fills in some color between the black and white lines which usually define Old Hickory. Now don't get me wrong - I still view the guy as more or less a jerk by any of today’s standards. But provided with just enough context to the progression of his political career and personal character, the sharp edges are dulled a bit. And in turn, I was surprised to detect something of a popular bias in the things I’d read and heard about Jackson previously. And what is good history but learning to see events from all sides?

    The storytelling was decent enough. It was a bit uneven, rambling at times with copious amounts of back story, and leaving some glaring omissions at other times. The telling of the Dickenson duel was extremely well done, probably the best portion of the book. The latter part of Jackson’s life, however, was breezed through without as much detail. There was hardly a mention of Polk, which is a bit odd for a guy who earned the nickname of “young hickory”.

    All told, this is the best book Audible has on Jackson, and more than adequately does the job of telling his story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Harlow Giles Unger
    • Narrated By Michael McConnohie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (141)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (86)

    In this lively and compelling biography, Harlow Giles Unger reveals the dominant political figure of a generation. A fierce fighter in four critical Revolutionary War battles and a courageous survivor of Valley Forge and a near-fatal wound at the Battle of Trenton, James Monroe (1751 - 1831) went on to become America's first full-time politician, dedicating his life to securing America's national and international durability.

    Robert Bartel says: "Readable, but more hero worship than history"
    "Concise. Dramatic. Good enough!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Doesn't match a McCullough or Chernow biography in quality or depth, but I'm OK with that. A little dramatic at times but again, no major complaints. The author's intent is to shine some light on a man who deserves a little more recognition in posterity, and to that effect it is as an informative and entertaining story as one can ask for.

    The views expressed often border on humorous, with the story drifting into contemporary biases and rhetoric in its portrayal of characters and events. But then again, that sort of context contributes to the general schtick that the author seems to be after So again, fair game.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Joseph J. Ellis
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (638)
    Performance
    (188)
    Story
    (178)

    A New York Times best seller, Founding Brothers is an engrossing work of nonfiction from National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph J. Ellis. It is a book that uncovers the substance behind many of our most cherished historical tales. Here are six fascinating, well-researched chapters involving such icons as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

    Vernon says: "Remarkably moving book"
    "A cute little book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ellis does a good job of breaking off a series of self-contained, bite-sized stories surrounding the revolution, and using them to both individually entertain and collectively pad the context of our understanding of the personalities behind the intricate and delicate formation of a blossoming nation.

    For anyone interested in gaining a thorough understanding of any historical events, context is key. Multiple angles help round out events and give the reader as close an angle to first hand experience as is possible. This book methodically does just that. With the assumption that either you know the full story or that the story isn't entirely relevant to the point, this blend of relationships and incidents - in spotty yet vivid detail - Ellis aims to give you a window into the minds of these now canonized men. And in the process he blows an eerie spark of life into them that, in spite of any frustration about his narrow scope, cannot be denied.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Adrienne Mayor
    • Narrated By Paul Hecht
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (293)
    Performance
    (235)
    Story
    (238)

    A National Book Award finalist for this epic work, Adrienne Mayor delivers a gripping account of Mithradates, the ruthless visionary who began to challenge Rome’s power in 120 B.C. Machiavelli praised his military genius. Kings coveted his secret elixir against poison. Poets celebrated his victories, intrigues, and panache. But until now, no one has told the full story of his incredible life.

    Darwin8u says: "A mythic & complicated life of a charismatic King"
    "Exciting, engaging, vivid ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mayor has done a great job of piecing together the fragments of ancient history to paint a grand and vivid picture of western asia in the time of roman imperial dominance. I was drawn into the fascinating blend of political, military, and personal stories surrounding the enigmatic Mithridates and his black sea empire, struggling to assert his dominance in his own lands and his independence from mighty rome. Enough detail for history buffs and enough theatrical presentation for anyone who just likes a good story, this is one of the better historical offerings here on Audible today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Napoleon

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Paul Johnson
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (88)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (19)

    Paul Johnson's book is a refreshing return to a concept whose time has come once again: the Great Man theory of biography. It serves as "the greatest possible refutation of those who hold that events are governed by forces, classes, economics, and geography rather than the powerful wills of men and women". Napoleon truly was the Great Man of his age, a towering and terrible genius who managed to conquer the Continent.

    Mark Grannis says: "Not your standard biography"
    "A whirlwind tour lacking in detail"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Simply OK. There is little depth given on any caveat in Bonaparte's long and nuanced life. Much of the historical gravitas is lost on what seems to be a cook's tour of this highly influential era in history. However, since Audible is severely lacking in any quality books on the Napoleonic era, this is as good as any available here, and anyone inclined to this period in history can't really do much better than this offering.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Christopher Hitchens
    • Narrated By Christopher Hitchens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2635)
    Performance
    (1377)
    Story
    (1369)

    In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris' recent best-seller, The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos.

    ben capozzi says: "...Though Hitchens Is!"
    "Very much worth the listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Highly recommened for the faithful. Not joking!

    Hitch is sure clever. A bit self-satisfied at times, but really quite articulate, and presents a compelling series of arguments.

    Although it was great to hear his voice for the proper emphasis at key moments, his narration skills weren't the best. The main issue was the speed - he talked too quickly through a lot of the book. Not an easy listen for any level of audible distraction, you need a set of headphones, or loud, quiet surroundings to catch every word.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Tucker Max
    • Narrated By Tucker Max
    Overall
    (688)
    Performance
    (321)
    Story
    (320)

    "My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way: I share my adventures with the world."

    Jean-Claude says: "okay... ummm"
    "Either you like his sctick or you don't"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not sure if vicarious is the right word, but Max's books definitely invoke the inner adolescent in me.

    It's not that I sympathize with his actions, or him as a person - and he does tend to play up his exploits as something more than the silly college boy antics that they are. But he presents an honest, egalitarian approach that he is quite forthcoming about, in the vein of "if you sleep with the dog, you get fleas." Coming from the dog, that's something.

    Bottom line you don't have to agree with the guy to find his writing engaging. In fact it works better if you find him repulsive, because the one-dimensional fratboy which is initially presented is gradually chipped away by an elliptical but effective series of rules and principals that he outlines. To be sure, the "rules of the game" angle is an important part of his writing. And either you like it or you don't.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Gordon S. Wood
    • Narrated By Robert Fass
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (447)
    Performance
    (234)
    Story
    (234)

    In Empire of Liberty, one of America's most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the end of the War of 1812. As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life - in politics, society, economy, and culture.

    Joseph says: "Excellent historical writing"
    "Outstanding context on US history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Bottom line, this book provides an exceptional insight into the culture and politics of a burgeoning nation, and it goes a long way to explaining the foundations of much of what we see around us today. It is well written, impeccably organized, and if you don't learn a thing or two about the country after finishing, you might just be the author.

    My main contention with the book is that is not a linear narrative, it is organized into a series of topics meant to lay out a comprehensive cultural mosaic, and skips around a lot in painting its picture. To this end it is quite effective, but at the expense of consistent and compelling story. That is, there is nothing passive about this listen, you have to pay constant and close attention to fully appreciate it, less so than you would if it were told as a chronological account with emphasis on the significance of individual events.

    That said, it is hard to understate the comprehensive nature of the cultural understanding conveyed in this book. Upon finishing, you will intimately know the people of the late 18th / early 19th century, at all social strata. It is truly a magnificent work.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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