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Chris

Spokane, WA, United States | Member Since 2005

53
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 20 reviews
  • 122 ratings
  • 811 titles in library
  • 41 purchased in 2014
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  • The Unruly Life of Woody Allen

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Marion Meade
    • Narrated By Mary Woods
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (14)

    The first uncensored biography to investigate our era's most celebrated, distinctive, and confounding filmmaker reveals the controversial private life behind the iconic public persona.

    Lloyd says: "too much (sordid) information"
    "The heart gets what it wants"
    Overall

    An interesting look at the life of Woody Allen, a man who always manages to get what he wants, mostly through dint of hard work and talent. If that fails, Meade suggests, he's not above manipulation and blaming others. This isn't a sympathetic biography, but it isn't destructive, either: Meade acknowledges Mr. Allen's talent as a filmmaker while continually reminding readers (toward the end of the book) about his indifference to anything that gets in the way of getting him what he wants, including Soon-Yi Previn. Meade reports that whole episode in detail, although other features of his life and creative process generally get equal attention (except for his work with Diane Keaton, which gets less).

    The book ends before Mr. Allen's recent hits such as MATCH POINT, so its conclusion hints that his career as a filmmaker is pretty much over because of his personal life. But Meade forgets that the American public has the historical attention span of a gnat when it comes to news and an infinite capacity for forgiving anyone who provides entertainment. You won't like Woody Allen more after reading this book, and you may be inclined to buy Meade's thesis that he's stuck at about age 18 emotionally, but you will be impressed at his work ethic and his attempts to protect his art from all outsiders, especially his fans.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Eve LaPlante
    • Narrated By Karen White
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (6)

    Biographers have consistently credited her father, Bronson Alcott, for Louisa May Alcott's professional success, assuming that this outspoken idealist was the source of her progressive thinking and remarkable independence. But in this riveting dual biography, Eve LaPlante explodes those myths, drawing on unknown and unexplored letters and journals to show that Louisa's "Marmee", Abigail May Alcott, was in fact the intellectual and emotional center of her daughter's world. It was Abigail who urged Louisa to write, who inspired many of her stories, and who gave her the support and courage she needed to pursue her path.

    Chris says: "Hardworking women and the man they supported"
    "Hardworking women and the man they supported"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Drawing on new materials, letters, and family papers, Eve LaPlante restores Abba May Alcott to her rightful position as nurturing mother and friend to Louisa May Alcott, her daughter and the author of Little Women and many other books. LaPlante fills in the missing background on Abba's life: her wealthy (for a time) family, her close relationship to her crusading abolitionist brother, Samuel Joseph May, and her extraordinary lifelong support and guidance of all her family, especially Louisa.

    The family member who does not come off especially well here is her husband, Bronson Alcott. With an ego the size of Concord or maybe Boston, Bronson did not feel "called" to work or support his family. He had to have space to think, after all, so he would leave Abba with three children under 10 (and no money) so that he could rent a room in downtown Philadelphia or Boston for months at a time and work on his intellectual development.

    For Bronson, bringing in money was the job of Abba and her daughters. So Anna taught school, Louisa sewed and wrote, May gave lessons, and Abba worked as a social worker and begged what support she could from family and friends. Marmee and Louisa tells the story of these hardworking women and their extended family in the context of the social and political turmoil of their times. It's an excellent listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815 - 1848

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Daniel Walker Howe
    • Narrated By Patrick Cullen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (483)
    Performance
    (284)
    Story
    (277)

    In this addition to the esteemed Oxford History of the United States series, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the Battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era of revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated America's expansion and prompted the rise of mass political parties.

    Amazon Customer says: "Excellent"
    "History with heroes and a villain"
    Overall

    This is an interesting, well-written history that provides more information about 1815-48 than you thought could fit into one book. Yes, it covers religion, as one reviewer said, but then again, it covers everything: electoral politics and newspapers of the 1830s, technological innovations, and even the execrable American diet and levels of drinking that had foreign visitors like Frances Trollope commenting on our peculiar ways.

    Several heroes emerge, including John Quincy Adams in the Amistad trial, but there's one villain glowering over every bad decision that the U.S. made in this period: Andrew Jackson. Not that Howe isn't scrupulous in his reporting of history--he seems to be--but if this book were a melodrama, Jackson is its malign guiding force.

    The editing is poor, as a few reviewers have commented. All the natural pauses have been snipped out, which makes the narration seem breathless. In fact, although the material is fascinating, it's hard to listen to this book for a long stretch of time without feeling tired, given the dense level of information and rushed delivery.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Jerry Della Femina, Charles Sopkin
    • Narrated By Peter Berkrot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Vividly reminiscent of the goings-on at Sterling Cooper - the late nights, the three-martini lunches, the sex on couches, and, of course, the actual work of plugging products - this is the story of what Madison Avenue was really like in the 1960s. A worldwide best seller when first published in 1970, this frank, irreverent, and hilarious memoir is a one-of-a-kind cult classic.

    Chris says: "Hugely entertaining"
    "Hugely entertaining"
    Overall

    A hugely entertaining book first published in 1970. Although it's loosely arranged in chapters, FROM THOSE WONDERFUL FOLKS . . . is really a collection of well-polished, funny anecdotes about the advertising business during the "Creative Revolution" of the 1960s. The narrator is excellent, too--a lively, engaging voice for a book that sounds as if someone is telling you great stories at a party.

    Della Femina's tales of creative types, stuffy clients, outrageous stunts, and, yes, lots of sex and drinking within the firm will be familiar to you if you're a fan of the series Mad Men, as a newly written introduction points out. You'll also gather information about advertising that will give you new respect for the series and what really happens in the creative process.

    Some audiobooks are ones that you feel you have to finish, and others are ones that you look forward to listening to every day. This is a "look forward to" book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Hollywood Studios: House Style in the Golden Age of the Movies

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Ethan Mordden
    • Narrated By Barrett Whitener
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Hollywood in the years between 1929 and 1948 was a town of moviemaking empires. The great studios were estates of talent: sprawling, dense, diverse. It was the Golden Age of the Movies, and each studio made its distinctive contribution. But how did the studios, "growing up" in the same time and place, develop so differently? What combinations of talents and temperaments gave them their signature styles?

    Eleanor says: "The reader falls quite short of the book"
    "Informative and opinionated"
    Overall

    The title of this review should have read "Informative and opinionated--not that there's anything wrong with that."

    Ethan Mordden's THE HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS is an interesting book. Mordden describes the house style for each studio effectively, and he has some surprisingly good insights into some of the movies. Paramount's stock in trade in the 1930s, for example, was its European directors (not just Lubitsch but others) and the theme of "sex as theft" in its films. MGM relied on style rather than distinguished directors; Twentieth Century-Fox was "nineteenth-century Fox" for its folksy rural dramas, etc.

    If Mordden doesn't like a movie, though, look out: he'll pick at anything--a minor factual error in a headline in a newspaper montage, for example--to trash it.

    The narration is all right except for some mispronunciations, and it's an interesting listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A History of Britain, Volume 2: The Wars of the British 1603-1776

    • ABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Simon Schama
    • Narrated By Timothy West
    Overall
    (150)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (43)

    Eminent - and best selling - historian Simon Schama takes the listener back in time to the Britain that existed in the 17th and 18th centuries, introducing us to the ill-fated Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, John Milton and Benjamin Franklin, and some not-so-famous characters who helped define the course of British history. "Delightfully accessible," say the critics, "a powerful experience."

    D. Littman says: "All around outstanding"
    "Brilliant. Wonderful."
    Overall

    I've listened to A History of Britain (both volumes) all the way through twice and have learned something new each time. The pace is generally brisk and sensible, although Schama is far more fascinated with doctrinal disputes circa 1600-1640 than most listeners are likely to be. The narration is good, too.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Pythons: Autobiography by the Pythons

    • ABRIDGED (2 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Bob McCabe, John Cleese, Michael Palin
    • Narrated By Bob McCabe, John Cleese, Michael Palin
    Overall
    (57)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    Over thirty years ago, a group of five Englishmen and one wayward American re-wrote the rules of comedy. Monty Python's Flying Circus, an unheralded collection of sketches, hilarities, inanities and animations first appeared on the BBC late one night in 1969. Its impact on the world has been felt ever since.

    G says: "Lots of fun"
    "Interesting content, poor recording"
    Overall

    You have to be a Python fan to make out the voices and content here; the recording quality is poor. But like the person who complains that the food quality is poor and then complains that there's too little of it, I wonder why Audible chose to abridge this. Once you've gotten used to the sound quality, as always it's a pleasure to hear the Pythons talking about their work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • By Myself and Then Some

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Lauren Bacall
    • Narrated By Lauren Bacall
    Overall
    (69)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (32)

    The epitome of grace, independence, and wit, Lauren Bacall continues to astound generations with her audacious spirit and on-screen excellence. Together with Humphrey Bogart, she produced some of the most electric scenes in movie history, and their romance on and off screen made them Hollywood's most celebrated couple.

    LB in Dallas says: "She has such a great voice! A great Listen."
    "Interesting, but a lot is missing"
    Overall

    It may be the fault of the abridged version, but after reading the original BY MYSELF years ago, I found a lot of the material about Ms. Bacall's earlier life missing; the making of DARK PASSAGE isn't mentioned, for example. Instead, as is common in updated memoirs, preference is given to lists of lifetime achievement awards won, praise given, etc., which for some listeners will be less compelling than the how-to details of moviemaking and the actor's craft.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Edith Wharton

    • ABRIDGED (8 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Hermione Lee
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (3)

    With profound empathy and insight, Hermione Lee brilliantly interweaves Wharton's life with the evolution of her writing, the full scope of which shows her to be far more daring than her stereotype as lapidarian chronicler of the Gilded Age. In its revelation of both the woman and the writer, Edith Wharton is a landmark biography.

    Aaron says: "Gardens Over Great Novels"
    "Abridged version favors life over works"
    Overall

    As an abridgment this isn't bad, but other reviewers have complained that this version focuses on gardens instead of Wharton's works. That's true, but it seems to have been a conscious decision to give a more rounded picture of Wharton than another retelling of Ethan Frome might have done. Lee's biography is huge (800+ pages) but well worth reading in full fpr those whose interest is piqued by this version.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Cari Beauchamp
    • Narrated By Pam Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Beauchamp writes about the pictures Kennedy produced, the stars he made - and destroyed - and the men who did his bidding. She also writes about the Hollywood titans in his midst: William Randolph Hearst, Cecille B. DeMille, and David Sarnoff, whose collaboration with Kennedy resulted in the formation of RKO Studios.

    Bob says: "Great history"
    "Ethically challenged, financially brilliant"
    Overall

    The Kennedy that emerges in this book is a brilliant businessman and a charismatic figure who had the foresight to invent new ways of structuring companies to maximize profits for himself, although in a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horses have escaped, many of these methods were later regulated out of existence, due perhaps in part to the wreckage that he left behind. Beauchamp points out that to Kennedy's way of thinking, this kind of wreckage was not his problem: if Gloria Swanson or others who trusted him did not look out for themselves, that was their fault for being too naive. The women left in the wake of his serial and incessant womanizing (as described here) were similarly at fault, in his mind, if they didn't manage to escape the charm offensive (and occasionally hands-on groping) that he continued to engage in throughout his life.

    Lest this sound too negative, Beauchamp stresses Kennedy's love for his children despite absences from home that seem from this book to stretch for months at a time. Kennedy had charm, energy, intelligence, and charisma, and he could read a balance sheet like nobody's business. Ethics in business seems to have eluded him as a concept, but he had a powerful grasp of the idea of public relations. Although he used these in damaging ways (as during his isolationism in WWII), he's still a fascinating figure to read about.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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