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Robert W.

Member Since 2006

  • 6 reviews
  • 22 ratings
  • 493 titles in library
  • 10 purchased in 2015

  • The French Revolution, Volume 2: The Constitution

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Thomas Carlyle
    • Narrated By Robert Bethune

    Thomas Carlyle's The French Revolution is a landmark of literary history. Conceived not as a dry recounting of facts, but as a personal, vivid, direct and dramatic encounter with the turbulent times of revolutionary France, it is in fact an extended dramatic monologue in which we meet not only the striking personalities and events of the time, but the equally striking personality and mind of Thomas Carlyle himself.

    Robert W. says: "A literary history treat"
    "A literary history treat"

    This book is a treat for the ears. It's like fine wine or anything else that needs intelligence, experience, and taste to be appreciated. I had to buy the hardbound copy so I would be able to read it over and over at leisure. The book is worth listening to for its rich range of expression and subtle humor even if you don't want to learn about the revolution, but having said that it is a first class description of those momentous events and renders them in a way that your dry dates-and-events histories could never rise to. A must for any student of history with a literary bent.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Terry Golway
    • Narrated By Adam Grupper
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    For decades, history has considered Tammany Hall, New York's famous political machine, shorthand for the worst of urban politics: graft, crime, and patronage personified by notoriously corrupt characters. Infamous crooks like William "Boss" Tweed dominate traditional histories of Tammany, distorting our understanding of a critical chapter of American political history. In Machine Made, historian and New York City journalist Terry Golway convincingly dismantles these stereotypes.

    Robert W. says: "Golway is obsessed with the Irish"
    "Golway is obsessed with the Irish"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A more balance and focused treatment of the topic.

    What do you think your next listen will be?

    The Norman conquest

    What about Adam Grupper’s performance did you like?

    Well modulated voice and a nice rhythm. Couldn't decide how to consistently pronounce some names, though.

    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It did cover the topic, barely.

    Any additional comments?

    Terry Golway is obsessed with Irish Catholics. The story of Tammany couldn't be written without discussing the Irish Catholic immigration of course, but a good third or more of this book is about Ireland itself, and lengthy homilies about Catholic experiences permeate the rest. He spends so much time casting stones at the wealthy, Protestants, Republicans, upstate and Albany politicians, reformers, and Anglo-Saxons that his subject matter disappears in the avalanche. This is poor scholarship. I had expected a balanced treatment; but a glance at his body of work shows he is really just a one-trick pony.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Rodney Stark
    • Narrated By Kevin Foley

    Modernity developed only in the West - in Europe and North America. Nowhere else did science and democracy arise; nowhere else was slavery outlawed. Only Westerners invented chimneys, musical scores, telescopes, eyeglasses, pianos, electric lights, aspirin, and soap. The question is, why? Unfortunately, that question has become so politically incorrect that most scholars avoid it. But acclaimed author Rodney Stark provides the answers in this sweeping new look at Western civilization.

    Philip Daniels says: "Another point of view."
    "Unquestionably the worst history I have ever read."
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

    What do you think your next listen will be?

    One Hundred Years of Solitude. Actual literature, not like this.

    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from How the West Won?

    All of it.

    Any additional comments?

    This book is a cheesy patchwork of cheap rhetorical tricks, self-contradictions, ad hominem attacks on historians, Anglo-Saxon boosterism, religious bigotry, and conspiracy theories.

    14 of 67 people found this review helpful
  • A History of the Peninsular War 1807-1809

    • ABRIDGED (26 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Charles Oman
    • Narrated By Felbrigg Napoleon Herriot

    FNH Audio presents a reading of Charles Oman's classic military history A History of the Peninsular War. In this first volume, a detailed examination is made of the first years of the war, 1807 to 1809. The campaign is examined from both sides using reference materials from British, French, Spanish, and Portuguese sources. This book covers the invasion of Spain and Napoleon's trickery in luring the Spanish crown into prison. It also features Wellington's first peninsular battle and of course the famous retreat to Corunna and the battle at that place.

    William says: "doesnt translate well into audiobook"
    "Academic history at its best"
    What did you love best about A History of the Peninsular War 1807-1809?

    This book is thorough and carefully researched.

    What did you like best about this story?

    The narrative is carried forward in a straightforward and lucid manner.

    Any additional comments?

    I am puzzled by some of the other listeners' comments. To begin with you can't expect to listen to a book of history without providing yourself with some maps and doing some basic research on the topic. If that's too hard you should be reading Bernard Cornwell. As for the reader, yes, he has an accent, one that I have heard before, but not in a narrator. It's not BBC standard. However I understood all the words and his voice is pleasant to listen to. I found the pronunciation more amusing than annoying.

    Listeners should be aware the book was written a hundred years ago and many of the place names are not on current maps, or are differently spelled and sometimes differently pronounced. Also, the author was British and has a British point of view, although I would say he is fair and honest. There is much detailed description of military unit names and numbers present at certain times. It could all have been left out. Curiously, it has the effect of reinforcing the author's credibility. He did his homework.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Nana

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Emile Zola
    • Narrated By Walter Zimmerman

    Emile Zola, along with fellow novelists Honoré de Balzac and Gustave Flaubert, was an early realist in French literature. In novels such as Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Zola's Nana, sex and violence were examined with vivid clarity. These realists soon adopted the word naturalism to describe their writings.

    Robert W. says: "A classic"
    "A classic"

    It's a pity people who are just trolling for a page turner sometimes rent books they can't handle. Perhaps the bad reviewers of this book should stick to bestsellers. This is a magnificent book and extremely well read. It may not be to everyone's taste but it is fascinating and intricate. Besides giving you a slice of Second Empire Paris and its night life, it has characters you care about, and makes you want to know what happens next, which are my two measures of a good story.

    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Norman F. Cantor
    • Narrated By Bill Wallace

    Much of what we know about the greatest medical disaster ever, the Black Plague of the fourteenth century, is wrong. The details of the Plague etched in the minds of terrified schoolchildren – the hideous black welts, the high fever, and the final, awful end by respiratory failure – are more or less accurate. But what the Plague really was, and how it made history, remain shrouded in a haze of myths.

    Anne says: "Don't waste time or money"
    "Poorly organized"

    I don't think the author had much of a plan when he wrote this book. The time sequence jumps forward and backward as if he thought of something new to add but didn't want to rewrite. Some of his information is incorrect, as pointed out in other reviews. Other information is identified as speculation at first but then fact later. He spends much time on opinionated historical review outside of his subject. Much material is repeated several times. In short it is neither a worthwhile guide to the plague itself nor an accurate description of the times after. I suggest "A Distant Mirror" by Barbara Tuchman and "Journal of the Plague Year" by Daniel Defoe as being much more worth your time.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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