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Michael Bellesiles

Member Since 2013

13
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 4 reviews
  • 4 ratings
  • 275 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015
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  • The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Volume I: Visions of Glory 1874-1932

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By William Manchester
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    Overall
    (887)
    Performance
    (553)
    Story
    (555)

    Winston Churchill is perhaps the most important political figure of the 20th century. His great oratory and leadership during the Second World War were only part of his huge breadth of experience and achievement. Studying his life is a fascinating way to imbibe the history of his era and gain insight into key events that have shaped our time.

    Wolfpacker says: "Superb - Review of Both Volume I & Volume II"
    "Marvelous"
    Overall

    This book is a fascinating and pleasurable listen. Christopher Hitchens calls it hagiography, but Manchester fairly acknowledges and discusses the various criticisms of Churchill, providing ample evidence for those who choose to disagree with his interpretation. There are certainly many things to dislike about this charismatic and dynamic figure—from his sense of entitlement to his rather distasteful bigotry—but The Last Lion does a marvelous job providing the reader with real insight into Churchill’s character and career. Frederick Davidson is a first-rate story-teller who does not overdo the Churchillian growl, pronounces German and French like a native, offers a wide-range of speaking voices (his young Churchill has just the right tinge of spoiled brat), and often had me laughing with his ability to express the author’s subtle irony. It is a great pity that Manchester never finished his grand designs for this biography.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Culture of War

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Martin van Creveld
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    War has always been a topic of deep intrigue. Fighting itself can be a source of great, perhaps even the greatest, joy; out of this joy and fascination an entire culture has grown - from the war paint of tribal warriors to today’s "tiger suits," from Julius Caesar's red cloak to Douglas MacArthur's pipe, from the decorative shields of ancient Greece to modern aircraft nose art, and from the invention of chess around A.D. 600 to cyber era combat simulators.

    Michael Bellesiles says: "Men like war"
    "Men like war"
    Overall

    This book has a straight-forward and historically supportable thesis: men like war. They enjoy the whole show: the uniforms, the marching, the music, the killing, the games. Martin van Creveld does a fine job exploring many of these areas, often surprising the reader with some fascinating historical detail. He moves around the world seeking evidence, and is often very convincing, except for his strange apologia for the Serbs in the 1990s—how odd that the words “ethnic cleansing” do not appear in that discussion. But van Creveld tilts at a straw woman: feminists. He is convinced that women, who apparently desire to enter the military in great numbers pose a danger not just to the culture of war but to national security itself. Women must remain content with their traditional relation to the military as cheerleaders, breeders of soldiers, and prizes; they will utterly destroy the ability of any country to defend itself if allowed to serve. He is like a boy insisting that no girls are allowed in the tree-fort. I am not making it up; so important is it to van Creveld that women be kept out of the military, that he devotes the last chapter of his book to what he sees as the greatest threat to military preparedness: women. It is little wonder that women continue to show little interest in such a hostile field as military history.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Paul C. Nagel
    • Narrated By Jeff Riggenbach
    Overall
    (98)
    Performance
    (71)
    Story
    (70)

    A United States minister, senator, president, and congressman in turn, John Quincy Adams was one of the most prevalent and dedicated Americans in history. Drawing from Adams' 70-year diary, author Paul Nagel probes deeply into the psyche of this cantankerous, misanthropic, erudite, hardworking son of a former president whose remarkable career spanned so many offices.

    James says: "Good Book, Narrow Focus"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall

    This is a truly dull book. The author appears to be so excited to be using John Q. Adams’ manuscript diary that he has written more of a biography of the diary than of the man. The book sinks under the weight of trivia, as the author makes no effort to establish the significance of Adams’ daily activities and thoughts. Rather than analysis of the writings and actions of Adams, we get endless detail on what Adams ate, how much he paid for furniture, his opinion on flannel underwear, his hemorrhoids [seriously]. The author admits that Adams’ repetitious self-doubt can get tedious, and then goes ahead and quotes these passages over and over. The villain of this book is Abigail Adams, portrayed here as an early American “Mommie Dearest.” Nagel mentions books and essays by Adams, but does not quote from them, let alone unpack their significance. He states that Adams was a superb translator, but does not bother to give a single example of this skill. Here is a book on one of the finest intellects in early 19th-century America, and the reader will come away with the impression that Adams was shallow, self-involved, selfish, and rather annoying. It is little wonder that the narrator of this audio book often sounds bored.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Man from Beijing

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Henning Mankell
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (603)
    Performance
    (201)
    Story
    (200)

    January 2006. In the Swedish hamlet of Hesjvallen, nineteen people have been massacred. The only clue is a red ribbon found at the scene. Judge Birgitta Roslin has particular reason to be shocked: Her grandparents, the Andrns, are among the victims, and Birgitta soon learns that an Andrn family in Nevada has also been murdered. She then discovers the 19th-century diary of an Andrn ancestora gang master on the American transcontinental railwaythat describes brutal treatment of Chinese slave workers.

    Terry R. Mabry says: "The Man From Beijing is a keeper"
    "Preposterous"
    Overall

    Really, that one word is sufficient to describe this completely unbelievable series of ridiculous coincidences. And by the way, it does for the Chinese what Michael Crichton’s Rising Sun did for the Japanese—demonize them.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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