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Douglas

I like to read but listening is better.

Atlanta, GA, United States

11
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 28 reviews
  • 28 ratings
  • 187 titles in library
  • 28 purchased in 2014
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  • A History of Britain: Volume 3

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Simon Schama
    • Narrated By Stephen Thorne
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (26)

    Timothy West reads the third and concluding volume of award-winning historian Simon Schama's compelling chronicle of the British Isles. Here he illuminates the period from 1776 to 2000 through a variety of historical themes, including Victorian advances in technology and industry, women's increasing role in society, and the burgeoning British Empire which promised civilisation and material betterment for all.

    Douglas says: "An interesting and entertaining final volume"
    "An interesting and entertaining final volume"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The final volume in the history is as good as the first two. By the time the listener is on the 3rd volume Thorne's voice is like that of an old friend. Actually, when I read the blurb about the 3rd volume it mentioned that the narrator was different and I was taken aback because at that point it would have been weird to switch voices. However, the blurb was thankfully inaccurate. The histories of Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill are two of the highlights of the final volume. The history of British rule in India is also fascinating. I was a bit disappointed with the last bit of the book because post-WWII Britain is basically just skimmed over. The author had forewarned us that this would be the case but I had held out hope that he was exaggerating. Alas, Schama was telling the truth. I would have liked to hear more about how Britain dealt with Ireland becoming independent and how it handled the breakup of its empire. I also wanted to hear a more detailed account of Thatcher's history. My biggest disappointment concerned the history of the crown. I was looking forward to learning what it was that changed the crown from being of chief importance to being a ceremonial relic. I wanted to know how things changed so much in so little time but it was never explained or really even touched on. Queen Victoria's reign ended in the early 1900's and by all accounts she was the supreme ruler of Britain and extremely important (the period is named after her after all). In my lifetime Queen Elizabeth II has been irrelevant to all besides tabloid magazine editors. How did that happen? I never learned this. I don't recall King Edward VIII giving up the crown in order to marry a divorced woman being mentioned at all, and if it was it wasn't discussed at any length. I would have liked to hear more about the 2nd half of the 20th century.

    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
    (492)
    Performance
    (293)
    Story
    (286)

    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"
    "Neglected but Important Period of American History"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When I came across this book I knew I had to read it because it covered a period in American History that I wasn't well versed in. However, I was kind of dreading it because I figured it would be pretty boring. I was totally wrong. Howe does a magnificent job of making a seemingly dry period of history interesting and entertaining. He covers all the major political happenings while also including things like culture, technology, race/gender relations, etc. Patrick Cullen isn't special but his voice and tone are perfect for this book. After a while the listener will feel as if Cullen's voice and the author's voice are one and the same. This is a very detailed, thorough, and enjoyable book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • All Quiet on the Western Front

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Erich Maria Remarque
    • Narrated By Frank Muller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (789)
    Performance
    (687)
    Story
    (692)

    Paul Bäumer is just 19 years old when he and his classmates enlist. They are Germany’s Iron Youth who enter the war with high ideals and leave it disillusioned or dead. As Paul struggles with the realities of the man he has become, and the world to which he must return, he is led like a ghost of his former self into the war’s final hours. All Quiet is one of the greatest war novels of all time, an eloquent expression of the futility, hopelessness and irreparable losses of war.

    Alan says: "My Choice for Frank Muller's Best"
    "Beautiful and Tragic: Required Reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I first read this book when I was 18. I'm 33 now and listening to it as an audio book I felt like I was reading it for the first time.

    It's one of the most wonderfully written books of the last century. The language is beautiful and the translation loses nothing (or if something is lost it remains gorgeous and powerful).

    It may take a while to get used to Muller's style of narration but once the reader does get adjusted he's perfect.

    This should be required reading in public schools: once in middle school and again in high school. It should be one of the books we are most familiar with. When everyone is in the mood for war, this book should be remembered. There's a reason Hitler had it burned.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Guns of August

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Barbara W. Tuchman
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1223)
    Performance
    (659)
    Story
    (648)

    In this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, historian Barbara Tuchman brings to life the people and events that led up to World War I. This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war. How quickly it all changed...and how horrible it became.

    Mike From Mesa says: "Wonderful"
    "Fascinating; Exciting; Great work of History"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the sort of book that I hope for every time I download an audio book. Barbara Tuchman is a pretty safe bet. She's one of the great history writers.

    As always, Nadia May is perfect in this role. I still wind up forgetting that the author herself is not the narrator. That's how well May's voice and style fit Tuchman's writing.

    The great thing about Tuchman's work is that she gives detailed and educational histories that are also entertaining and even exciting. Guns of August is no exception. This isn't an audio book that you'll just turn on in the car because you're sick of the songs on your iPod. You get swept up in the story and immersed in it.

    That's what's so great about Tuchman's work. It satisfies those of us who want to spend reading time educating ourselves, while also giving us the same pleasure that a novel would. Guns of August is tremendous.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Thirty Years War

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By C. V. Wedgwood
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (111)
    Performance
    (101)
    Story
    (100)

    Initially, the Thirty Years War was precipitated in 1618 by religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire. But the conflict soon spread beyond religion to encompass the internal politics and balance of power within the Empire, and then later to the other European powers. By the end, it became simply a dynastic struggle between Bourbon France and Habsburg Spain. And almost all of it was fought out in Germany. Entire regions were depopulated and destroyed.

    Judith A. Weller says: "One of the World's Great History Books."
    "Thorough and Well Written"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I only rated this 3-stars despite giving the performance 5 and the story 4. The reason for this--and I've had this problem several times with exhaustive military histories--is that I probably only managed to get 75% of this book. It was just really difficult to keep up with all the unfamiliar names and titles and countries and territories. And you're learning about the complex foreign policies of all of these different entities. I think if you're familiar with the Thirty Years War this book would have to be a 5-star. But if, like me, you have no previous knowledge of the Thirty Years War, it may be a bit overwhelming at times. However, it was very well written and entertaining. Extremely informative. And the narrator absolutely crushes this thing. At first he may seem a touch over-dramatic but you'll soon get used to it and appreciate it. Griffin's style of narration is absolutely perfect for this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Forever War

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Dexter Filkins
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (219)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (75)

    Through the eyes of Dexter Filkins, we witness the chain of events that began with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continued with the attacks of 9/11, and moved on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Forever War allows us a visceral understanding of today's battlefields and of the experiences of the people on the ground, warriors and innocents alike. It is a brilliant, fearless work, not just about America's wars after 9/11, but ultimately about the nature of war itself.

    Terry says: "A memorable "read""
    "Spectacular; Exciting, Enlightening, Balanced."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was one of the best books I've read in sometime. Filkins was actually in the wars in the ME for over a decade. Perhaps this is why he has such a rational view of it all. It was great to hear from a balanced voice: he doesn't demonize either side. He points out the negatives and the positives of both sides. Filkins must be one of the great writers living today. From the introduction to the epilogue this story is dramatic and engaging. You get the feeling Filkins could write the story of your life and it would be a best seller. As always, Robertson Dean is perfect for a book such as this. Hard to imagine how this could have been done any better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By James Carroll
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (73)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (23)

    This landmark, myth-shattering work chronicles the most powerful institution in America, the people who created it, and the pathologies it has spawned. Carroll proves a controversial thesis: The Pentagon has, since its founding, operated beyond the control of any force in government or society. It is the biggest, loosest cannon in American history, and no institution has changed this country more.

    Graham says: "A Great Book"
    "Brilliant, if Biased"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a wonderfully written book. Carroll's meshing of the big story and his own personal story was fantastic. There are no boring or slow parts of this book. Robertson Dean is the absolute perfect choice of narrator for this one. The reason I give the book 4 instead of 5 stars is that Carroll is almost laughably one-sided in his take on the Pentagon and American foreign policy. He makes a number of great arguments that really are damning against the US and the war machine. But he makes an equal number of arguments that are just really difficult to buy. For starters, the idea that Japan had virtually surrendered when the bomb was dropped is ludicrous. But there are many other examples. So that's what kept me from going 5-star.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The War to End All Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs)
    • By Edward M. Coffman
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    The War to End All Wars is considered by many to be the best single account of America’s participation in World War I. Covering famous battles, the birth of the air force, naval engagements, the War Department, and experiences of the troops, this indispensable volume is suitable for history buffs, students, and general listeners.

    Douglas says: "Pretty Dry but Very Informative"
    "Pretty Dry but Very Informative"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had a hard time with this one. It just felt really dry and slow. Perhaps some of this is due to the fact that the book was written in the 60's and maybe that was the style of non-fiction at that time. This book was half as long as many history books I listen to and I had it on double speed and it still took me much longer to finish than usual.

    Some of what bored me isn't Coffman's fault at all. He set out to write an exhaustive history of America's experience in World War I. It just so happens that at least half of that history concerns the details of America's preparation for war. That was the first half of the book and it was tough to get through, although I realize that it was necessary for the author to be that thorough.

    Another problem I had with this book is a problem that I often have with war histories. If you aren't familiar with the military it can be hard to understand exactly what's going on. I personally don't know the terminology and the meanings of different positions and formations so I can't get a good picture of what's happening.

    There were times when I would perk up and find a section interesting, but there were more times when I found myself sort of tuning out and had to go back and listen again.

    Weiner is perfect for this sort of book and he's actually still good on double speed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Renegade History of the United States

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Thaddeus Russell
    • Narrated By Paul Boehmer
    Overall
    (105)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (65)

    American history was driven by clashes between those interested in preserving social order and those more interested in pursuing their own desires---the "respectable" versus the "degenerate", the moral versus the immoral. The more that "bad" people existed, resisted, and won, the greater was our common good. In A Renegade History of the United States, Russell introduces us to the origins of our nation's identity as we have never known them before.

    Amazon Customer says: "One of those books...that cause brain freeze!"
    "Interesting/Entertaining Revision of History"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In general, I liked this book. It's obvious that Russell has a claim or argument in mind and then seeks to validate the claim by finding evidence that supports his argument while ignoring anything that doesn't. That being said, he makes some very strong arguments. Some are stronger than others. Take it all with a grain of salt. But he does present some facts that are simply inarguable and so there is plenty to learn from the book.

    I'm a little surprised that I haven't heard more of an uproar about this book. Perhaps it's because the author isn't well known? I don't know. Russell has fewer than 1,500 followers on Twitter. Now, I realize that number of Twitter followers is of course not in any way proof of the validity of an author's argument. But if you're judging how well known a young author is, it's pretty telling. So back to the original point, perhaps the reason that you can't easily find passionate responses to Russell's arguments is that there just aren't enough people who've heard about it.

    Still, I can't for the life of me figure out why he chose to make his "slavery wasn't that bad in the 1800's" argument in chapter 2. I mean at least 10 to 15 percent of the people that picked up this book had to have put it down forever at some point during the 2nd chapter.

    Overall I thought the book was good, thus the 4-star rating. I found myself wanting to hear more when it was over, and that's always a great sign. But the overall story was just so-so. I'm not a big fan of books that are made up of a bunch of different small arguments or studies. I like to hear a running narrative on a broad subject.

    And there were times when the repetition got a bit boring. Whenever you're listening to or reading a book where the author's main goal is to prove a theory or theories, you know there are going to be times when you get tired of it.

    As for the narrator, Paul Boehmer is not my favorite. Boehmer isn't awful but he does take away some of the enjoyment for me. I had to listen to it on double speed to make his voice less of a bother. But that wasn't bad because the repetitive style of the book made some parts tough to get through as it was.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Miranda Carter
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (140)
    Performance
    (92)
    Story
    (93)

    In the years before the First World War, the great European powers were ruled by three first cousins: King George V of Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Together, they presided over the last years of dynastic Europe and the outbreak of the most destructive war the world had ever seen, a war that set 20th-century Europe on course to be the most violent continent in the history of the world.

    D. Littman says: "interesting and entertaining work of history"
    "A Delight for History Lovers"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was the most enjoyable book I've read for some time. This is a book that readers who are interested in the details of history will like. Biography enthusiasts will obviously appreciate it as well, as it is more or less the biography of 5 individuals (the 3 title characters as well as Queen Victoria and King Edward the VII). Rosalyn Landor is perfect for this story and does a marvelous job.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Meditation for Beginners

    • NONE (1 hr and 38 mins)
    • By Jack Kornfield
    Overall
    (127)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (35)

    Theodore says: "Great, compact, effective"
    "Nice Introduction to Meditation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a good intro for novices like myself. The author tries hard to make the listener comfortable. I haven't tried any of the tips yet so I can't really say for sure how helpful it was. To be honest, after listening to this I really don't think I'm spiritual enough for meditation. I think when I was younger I would have loved this, but at this point I'm not sure I can do it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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