David McCullough brilliantly illuminates one year in the struggle of our nation's first army under the command of the man who, deservedly, became our first President. George Washington, (as well as the men who served under him), is revealed by McCullough to be a flawed human being who made plenty of mistakes, some of which could have cost this country its independence. Impatient and, at times, overcome with anger, he is also shown to have been wise and calculating, in his dealings with and estimation of, the British commanders he had to outwit, as well as some of the generals who advised him. The American Revolution should have been this colorfully rendered and detailed in the history texts used when I was in grade school. McCullough is a brilliant historian and writer who makes his subjects as real as if they were alive today. There were times where, in listening to this audiobook, I found myself wondering ahead how Washington and the increasingly dwindling, ragtag army that he commanded would ever be able to overcome the overwhelming odds against them. Of course, I knew they did eventually prevail in the struggle to win the Revolutionary War, but McCullough writes in such a way as to keep you guessing. He makes the subject accessible, alive, interesting and even thrilling, too.
If you want to get "Moby Dick", may I recommend the abridged version. First of all, how this could be considered an American "classic" is beyond me. Melville was so long-winded and William Hootkins, who had a brief appearance in the first "Star Wars" movie as "Porkins", (a fitting name, given his girth) and a somewhat "meatier" role in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", audibly chews the scenery, milking every different character for all their worth, attempting a different accent, pitch, etc. for each one so as to make it "distinct", but the end result sounds so forced, so laborious as to make the listener cringe. This is overacting at it's zenith. Then, we have the length: more minutiae about whales and whaling ships of that time and the men who were "whalers" and "harpooneers" than anyone in this day and age could possibly care about. I kept saying: "When are we going to get to the actual story!?" Do yourself a favor. Download the abridged version which is about 15 hours shorter than the unabridged one and try to avoid downloading the one with Mr. Hootkins' "performances". Better yet, rent one of the movie versions with Gregory Peck or Patrick Stewart.
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