Eavesdropping on US History
Date: Mar 07,2004
This audiobook is amazing and at times mesmerizing in its content. You feel as though you are eavesdropping on private conversations of historic significance. It enables the listener to almost hear LBJ's inner thoughts as he struggles with some of the most wrenching issues of modern US history, including the Vietnam dilemma and the civil rights movement. LBJ is revealed as a complex figure with myriad dimensions. He seems painfully insecure and almost paranoid in the shadow of Kennedy's legacy--yet visionary in his advocacy of a new America. He is a powerful legislative and personal advocate for the rights of Black Americans, yet marred by his own dark predujices. He is tortured by the ever deteriorating morass of Vietnam, yet unable to summon the will to withdraw in "disgrace." LBJ is revealed as a consummate politician playing every side and manipulating friends and foes for his own agenda. He seems almost a Shakespearean figure paralyzed by Vietnam, his obsession with outside opinion and his own deep personal flaws. At times he is arrogant and seemingly in complete control, at other times he is a worried, depressed, and exhausted wreck, seemingly unequal to the weight of a presidency beset with unending crises at home and abroad. Bechloss does a masterful job of editing what must have been thousands of hours of taped conversations. His ability to put each piece in context makes this fascinating history come alive. The listener hears conversations with some of the most important historical figures of the 1960s, including Martin Luther King, Jacqueline Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, J Edgar Hoover, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Macnamara. Excerpts from Lady Bird Johnson's diaries add colorful personal flavor. Don't read this book-- listen to it and the other two volumes on audiobook. It is an incredible experience
Yes. This is BRILLIANT in the way it presents an "uncomfortable truth" of our time for Americans. But whether you are politically conservative, moderate or liberal-- you will need to listen to the entire book with an open mind. The title of this book is intentionally misleading-- to provoke a response. Dont make the mistake of thinking this book is anti-US or anti-anything. The author is telling it like it is and arguing that America is uniquely positioned to lead in a different way because of a different world reality.
Generally speaking, Americans need to shift their minset to understand and appreciate what is happening--and recognize this is not a "zero-sum game." This is no longer "America's world" where we can unilaterally set the rules and assume everyone will do it "America's way." The landscape and balance of power has changed. And America can either understand that and deal with reality--or be frustrated in a state of denial, repeating some of the worst mistakes of the British Empire. There are so many critical lessons from history that can and should inform the way we view this nation's unique opportunities and challenges right NOW-- to take into account the fundamental truth that all people want the freedom to define themselves within their own cultures, governments and societies.
The author uses compelling examples from the history of past dominant world powers to illustrate exactly what the challenges and opportunities are for the United States today.
At first I felt inclined to dismiss this book as US-bashing based on biased thinking. However, as I listened more and thought about what the message of this book really is, I found most of the content to be persuasive and extremely enlightening. This should be required reading by every forward-thinking American.
Reading a classic like this allows you to experience another culture and another perspective that is akin to time travel.
This was the Chinese "Grapes of Wrath" tale that I had always heard about but never read until now. The personal struggles, flaws, trials and triumphs of one family makes it a compelling and unforgettable tale.
The reader's ability to speak different roles and voices without forcing the "performance" was impressive.
Pragmatic, unflinching discussion of what is happening NOW in terms of the rise of the rest of the world, especially China and India-- and the implications for the United States. THIS IS NOT A "sky-is-falling" diatribe on the decline of America. THIS BOOK SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING FOR EVERY AMERICAN AND ESPECIALLY ALL AMERICAN POLITICIANS.
America needs to understand that a great source of its vitality has always been new immigrants. Recognize this fact and embrace a worldview that is not a "zero-sum" game. Learn the lessons from the rise and fall of the British Empire.
Brilliant, succint description of what is going on in the world and the opportunities it presents for America.
Worthwhile history of a president with great potential who was shot by a lunatic. To add to the strangeness of this tragedy, arrogant medical malfeasance resulted in Garfield's death.
Gives a reader insights into a president largely forgotten by history.
This book had it moments, but it just did not captivate me as I had expected.
This is not one of Ambrose's best efforts in my humble opinion. He personally must have been fascinated by McGovern's military service-- and it comes across that way. A "nice" biography and some important insights into the sacrifices of the men who flew bombers in WWII. They are all heroes. Given the material, I think the author certainly could have done a more heroic job of writing about them.
If you have any interest whatsoever in Theodore Roosevelt and the Amazon region, this book will inform and amaze you.
Epic biography. Brilliantly crafted. Among the best biographies I have ever read.
See the DVD of this as well. It is on a par with the book, if not better.
The author approached this heart-rending modern tragedy from a human point of view. She traces the lives of a few of the rare escapees from the oppressive confines of self-diefied dictator's prison-state that has a physical and mental stranglehold on millions of people who have been isolated from the rest of the free world for more than 60 years.
This is a true story that is stranger than fiction. A 21st Century reality show that makes Orwell's 1984 seem like a historical treatise.
Among my favorite moments in this book was the description of the poignant love story between two North Koreans who finally escaped in different ways and different times, completely independent of one another. Because of the risks involved, neither confided in the other about plans to escape to a better life.
My heart breaks for the people of North Korea who continue to suffer needlessly under the militaristic fist of such a bizarre regime that fabricates threats from "foreign enemies" in order to maintain its control . The conditions of North Korea today are even more de-humanizing than anything that happened behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany or the the depravaity of Mao's "Cultural Revolution" in China many decades ago.
All politics aside, from the standpoint of basic human rights alone, the Korean pennisula represents one of our generation's most important history lessons. Do American's really understand what is happening? The contrast in the conditions of the people living in today's South Korea and North Korea could not be more stark. While any war is terrible beyond words, America's role in helping to fight for and preserve the freedom of South Korea has proven to be one of the greatest and most courageous humanitarian achievements in modern history. The results speak for themselves in full view of the world. Millons of South Koreas are living in a free and prosperous country, while millions more in the North are not. Especially coming so soon after the end of WWII, it is a testament to America's commitment to the cause of freedom that the US fought in Korea. South Koreans know this and are among America's most grateful and staunch allies. The Korean War is still not well understood by most Americans and is aptly referred to as "The Forgotten War." Meanwhile, the sad truth is that the South's brothers and sisters in the North continue in isloated desperation to fall further behind without access to the information and freedoms the rest of the world takes for granted.
Get this book. Forget Fiction. This book is a true story that is beyond belief.
This is an excellent and interesting comparison of two of the most influential thinkers of modern times. Anyone who thinks this is dry is simply not adept at thinking. The author makes no pretense about his own world view and does not present a scientific treatise. The lives of Freud and Lewis are revealed as evidence of the fruits of their thinking. Freud is exposed as being arrogant enough to think that there is no truth or knowledge beyond his own finite ability to comprehend. Ironically, many of his theories are more twisted and preposterous than anything found in the Bible. Lewis was open-minded enough to consider man's limitations. His own journey from atheist to reknown proponent of reason-based faith is fascinating. Each famous thinker in some ways represents the tension in every thinking person who has ever lived. Part of everyone wants to believe they don't need anything or anybody--including God. At the same time, part of everyone wants to believe there is a guiding power who loves them and has a plan for the creation of all things. This is the "Question of God." As the lives of Freud and Lewis demonstrated, one path leads to hope. The other to hopelessness. Lewis' words ring true: "God cannot give us peace and happiness apart from himself--because it isn't there." Brilliant as he may have been, Freud never discovered this truth during his lifetime. Like billions before and after him, he must have been shocked and dramatically more enlightened after he drew his last breath.
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