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Lector Curiosus

New York | Member Since 2008

22
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 10 reviews
  • 20 ratings
  • 297 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2014
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  • Empires of the Sea: The Contest for the Center of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Roger Crowley
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (347)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (167)

    Empires of the Sea tells the story of the 50-year world war between Islam and Christianity for the Mediterranean: one of the fiercest and most influential contests in European history. It traces events from the appearance on the world stage of Suleiman the Magnificent through "the years of devastation" when it seemed possible that Islam might master the whole sea, to the final brief flourishing of a united Christendom in 1571.

    Tad Davis says: "Brilliant detail, exciting story"
    "Riveting history, well read!"
    Overall

    The book is well written, full of detail, exciting, and beautifully narrated. A definite recommendation for anyone interested in this era of history and the turbulent times of the Middle Sea.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • The Great Siege: Malta 1565

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Ernle Bradford
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (172)
    Performance
    (154)
    Story
    (156)

    Suleiman the Magnificent, sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the most powerful ruler in the world, was determined to conquer Europe. Only one thing stood in his way: the island of Malta, occupied by the Knights of Saint John, the Holy Roman Empire’s finest warriors. Determined to capture Malta and use its port to launch operations against Europe, Suleiman sent overwhelming forces. A few thousand defenders in Fort Saint Elmo fought to the last man.

    Tad Davis says: "Stirring tale of courage and endurance"
    "Classic Heroism, with modern resonance."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The Great Siege?

    One of the less well-known episodes in a centuries' old struggle for mastery of the Mediterranean and Italy. Told with verve, detail, color, and appreciation for the mind-sets and virtues of the combatants.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Great Siege?

    The fall of Fort Saint Elmo.


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    Voice and diction.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Siege at Peking

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Peter Fleming
    • Narrated By David Shaw-Parker
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    In June 1900 the foreign legations at Peking were attacked by troops of the Boxer rebellion and Imperial Chinese troops. The ensuing siege lasted 55 days and shook the world. In this work, Peter Fleming traces its history and impact.

    J. says: "Old school, but engaging"
    "So, THAT'S where they got the movie from!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a youth I was thrilled by the (now) old-fashioned derring-do, color, and bravery of the movie "55 Days in Peking" with Charleston Heston, David Niven, Ava Gardner et al. The story of the "Boxer Rebellion" and its siege of the foreign legations in Peking in 1900 was drawn from this book. Well-written, well-paced, and very well read!
    The only quibble is that the book reflects its provenance ( UK, 1959) when the author quotes Frenchmen in their original French and leaves their words untranslated. One supposes Peter Fleming assumed any educated person could handle a few sentences in French ;-) However, at least the French is well-pronounced by the narrator.

    Recommended!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Anne Sebba
    • Narrated By Samantha Bond
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (125)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (104)

    Here is the first full-scale biography of Wallis Simpson to be written by a woman, exploring the mind of one of the most glamorous and reviled figures of the 20th century, a character who figured prominently in the blockbuster film The King’s Speech. This is the story of the American divorcée notorious for allegedly seducing a British king off his throne.

    Gwynne says: "A fascinating read..."
    "A new take on an old story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Anne Sebba's book on the Duchess of Windsor was interesting and full of detail. Her speculation on Wallis' physical-sexual condition while seeming a little speculative provided a possible explanation of how a thrice-married woman in an era of little or no contraception never had a child and often struck observers as having an almost masculine persona. The book also provided some real insight into her two prior husbands who often seem shadowy figures in most other accounts.
    The narration was very well done.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume II: Alone, 1932-1940

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By William Manchester
    • Narrated By Richard Brown
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (526)
    Performance
    (321)
    Story
    (321)

    This second volume in William Manchester's three-volume biography of Winston Churchill challenges the assumption that Churchill's finest hour was as a wartime leader. During the years 1932-1940, he was tested as few men are. Pursued by creditors (at one point he had to put up his home for sale), he remained solvent only by writing an extraordinary number of books and magazine articles.

    Andrew says: "Worth it"
    "Good book, poorly read."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The last, unfortunately, of William Manchester's planned multi-volume biography of WSC. I purchased and read the book many years ago. As I had some driving time ahead this summer I thought it would be fun to re-visit it by istening to it in the car. Mistake!
    The narrator makes the book very difficult to listen to. He has an odd tendency to swallow final syllables of words making it hard at times to understand the meaning. Also, he cannot resist the dreadful temptation to "imitate" Churchill when his words are quoted; which is very often of course.
    This is a pet peeve of mine and, in my opinion, as his imitation is bad it makes the listening tedious in the extreme: "an outrage up with which I will not put". ;-)

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Charlemagne

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Richard Winston
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (764)
    Performance
    (351)
    Story
    (356)

    Charlemagne was easily one of the most fascinating figures in Western civilization, as well as the most heroic and romantic. The 47 years of his reign marked some of the most significant and far reaching events of the Middle Ages. Undoubtedly, it was his enlightened vision for Europe that resulted in the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of cultural flowering that never really ceased to develop, and which led in a straight line directly to that period of astonishing achievement we now call the High Gothic.

    Frank says: "A wonderful biography"
    "The Father of Europe comes alive"
    Overall

    A splendid book; written in an admiring yet appropriately critical spirit. The author makes Charles come alive both as ruler and as a human being.
    The recording has some "hokey" elements ( music, sound effects, reverb) but is well presented. However, someone needed to coach the narrator on correct Latin/French pronunciation.
    But on the whole, well worth the listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Charles de Gaulle

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Don Cook
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (16)

    This magnificent volume by veteran European correspondent Don Cook is the first major biography of de Gaulle written by an American from an American perspective. Rich with new anecdotal material, it offers fresh evaluations and sheds new light on Europe's most controversial and enigmatic general, politician, and statesman.

    Wallen says: "A great book about a complex person"
    "Well done, but...."
    Overall

    This magisterial biography is well known in the vast literature on the subject character. It is well recorded by and large, but here I venture some reservations. I have found this particular narrator to be a bit too "arch" and "overly-Britsy" for me taste, though he has done several of the serious history works I've purchased. Someone does however need to correct pronunciations e.g.: the British battleship "Resolution" pronounced as if it were a French word; and the well-known American Admiral Leahy prononunced as "Lee-hee". Minor yes, but annoying.
    Also there is a practice I've noticed in other recordings: the tendency to imitate the real or imagined voice of someone quoted. Here Churchill is given a sort of commonplace imitation treatment by the narrator. I'm not sure if this practice is professional or too "show biz" for me.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Churchill

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Roy Jenkins
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    Overall
    (515)
    Performance
    (189)
    Story
    (192)

    In this magisterial book, Roy Jenkins' unparalleled command of the political history of Britain and his own high-level government experience combine in a narrative account of Churchill's astounding career that is unmatched in its shrewd insights, its unforgettable anecdotes, the clarity of its overarching themes, and the author's nuanced appreciation of his extraordinary subject.

    Karen says: "Best of British Political Soap Opera"
    "A splendid book, well-read...but...."
    Overall

    No doubt the late (Lord) Roy Jenkins' biography of Winston Churchill is a most enjoyable, detailed, and balanced account of WSC's extraordinary life. Not as exhaustive (perhaps exhausting) as Sir Martin Gilbert's official biography, it is nonetheless thorough and enlivened by the author's own long experience in British politics and government.
    The narrator is clear and engaging; but was allowed to convey direct quotes by using different accents and tones of voice. When it comes to him reading WSC himself, it becomes annoying as the man's voice himself is so well known and his own recorded speeches so readily available.
    On the whole, however, very well worth the listening!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Three Empires on the Nile: The Victorian Jihad, 1869-1899

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Dominic Green
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (30)

    Three Empires on the Nile tells of the rise of the first modern Islamic state and its fateful encounter with the British Empire of Queen Victoria. Ever since the self-proclaimed Islamic messiah known as the Mahdi gathered an army in the Sudan and besieged and captured Khartoum under its British overlord Charles Gordon, the dream of a new caliphate has haunted modern Islamists. The 19th-century origins of it all were even more dramatic and strange than today's headlines.

    Sean O'Keefe says: "Astoundingly good"
    "An old story, recent as todat's news"
    Overall

    A beautifully read absorbing story of Khedives, Mahdis, imperialists, "Chinese" Gordon, Kitchener of Khartoum, the Sudan, the Suez Canal, etc. Today it's the Taliban, Darfur, Islamic fundamentalism and jihad. A timely book.
    It also got me to rent the 1966 Charlton Heston, Laurence Olivier epic film "Khartoum" which is remarkably accurate.
    The author is modern in his lack of reverence for the British "protectors" of Egypt but holds no phony politically correct view of militant Islam either.
    Held my attention and the narrator was very easy on the ears.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Napoleon

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Paul Johnson
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (90)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (21)

    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"
    "Interesting, insightful, well-read. but....."
    Overall

    Paul Johnson does a good job in this relatively short book in objectively examining, and demolishing, the shallow cult of Bonaparte. He reinforces what Churchill observed: that Napoleon was as great as a man could be, without being good.
    Johnson does make one elementary error that surprised me however: he conflated Napoleon's brothers Lucien and Louis as if they were the same person. One would think such a basic error would have been picked up in the editing.
    The narrator was superb.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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