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In collaboration with Audible and Playtone, Emmy Award-winning documentarian Ken Burns has recorded personal introductions to a selection of audiobooks covering the past 150 years of American history.

"For me, listening to a great audiobook can be as satisfying an experience as watching a great story unfold on film." - Ken Burns
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Isabel Wilkerson
    • Narrated By Robin Miles, Ken Burns
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2298)
    Performance
    (1987)
    Story
    (1984)

    In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to previously untapped data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

    Lila says: "Superior non-fiction"

    Ken Burns on The Warmth of Other Suns

    In Ken Burns' words: "I love this book. It’s one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read or ever owned...proudly owned. Anyone interested in the how and why of American history should pick up this wonderful book. From its very beginning, the United States has had as a principle subtheme: that of race. And in this masterful work, Isabelle Wilkerson weaves together the intimate stories of three different people and makes them universal. Through oral history, thoughtful analysis, and her own experience, Wilkerson tells one of the great untold stories of American history."
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume I, Fort Sumter to Perryville

    • UNABRIDGED (43 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Shelby Foote, Ken Burns - introduction
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2245)
    Performance
    (1307)
    Story
    (1310)

    The Civil War: A Narrative, Volume I begins one of the most remarkable works of history ever fashioned. All the great battles are here, of course, from Bull Run through Shiloh, the Seven Days Battles, and Antietam, but so are the smaller ones: Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island Ten, New Orleans, and Monitor versus Merrimac.

    Jeanne says: "The best"

    Ken Burns on The Civil War: Volume I

    In Ken Burns' words: "One of the most remarkable accounts of history every written. This literary accomplishment may be the finest nonfiction written about the Civil War, the most important event in American history. Shelby Foote saw things with a southern perspective but not a southern bias, and, like the novelist he also was, he inhabited the war. No detail, no character, no moment was too small to benefit from his attention and fierce intelligence."
  • The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Timothy Egan
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor, Ken Burns
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2017)
    Performance
    (1352)
    Story
    (1366)

    The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region.

    Sara says: "A Fascinating History"

    Ken Burns on The Worst Hard Time

    In Ken Burns' words: "During the Great Depression, many people fled the drought-stricken region that stretched from Nebraska to the Texas panhandle. Drawing on the voices of those who lived through the ordeal, Egan tells remarkable stories of endurance and heroism. Narrator Patrick Lawlor captures the very voice of the time: its grit, pathos, and abiding heroism, solidifying The Worst Hard Time as a lasting and important work of American history."
  • O Pioneers!

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Willa Cather
    • Narrated By Kate Reading, Ken Burns
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (139)
    Performance
    (120)
    Story
    (124)

    The country is America; the woman is Alexandra Bergson, a fiercely independent young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father's farm in Nebraska. A model of emotional strength, courage, and resolve, Alexandra fights long and hard to transform her father's patch of raw, wind-blasted prairie into a highly profitable business. A gripping saga of love, murder, greed, failure, and triumph, O Pioneers! vividly portrays the hardships of prairie life.

    James says: "Cather writes like Wyeth paints."

    Ken Burns on O Pioneers!

    In Ken Burns' words: "A gripping saga of love, murder, greed, failure, and triumph that vividly portrays the hardships of prairie life. O Pioneers! champions the belief that hard work is the surest path to personal fulfillment and celebrates the men and women who struggled to build a nation. Named AudioFile Magazine’s voice of the century, narrator Kate Reading is especially well-cast to bring the words to life and convey the immigrant experience with a mastery not often found in audiobook narration."
  • My Antonia

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Willa Cather
    • Narrated By Jeff Cummings, Ken Burns
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1023)
    Performance
    (759)
    Story
    (775)

    Through Jim Burden's endearing, smitten voice, we revisit the remarkable vicissitudes of immigrant life in the Nebraska heartland, with all its insistent bonds. Guiding the way are some of literature's most beguiling characters: the Russian brothers plagued by memories of a fateful sleigh ride, Antonia's desperately homesick father and self-indulgent mother, and the coy Lena Lingard. Holding the pastoral society's heart, of course, is the bewitching, free-spirited Antonia.

    Kevin says: "A Wonderful Book"

    Ken Burns on My Antonia

    In Ken Burns' words: "To add a personal note, I am so fond of Willa Cather’s work that one my daughters is named after her. Infused with a gracious passion for the land, My Antonia is a deeply moving portrait of an entire community and its way of life. Antonia lies at the center of almost every human condition that Cather’s novel effortlessly untangles: she represents immigrant struggles with a foreign land, the restraints on women at the time, and the more general desires for love and companionship."
  • The Song of the Lark

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Willa Cather
    • Narrated By Pam Ward, Ken Burns
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (49)

    The daughter of a Swedish minister growing up in Colorado, Thea Kronborg's musical talent sets her apart from her contemporaries. Driven by her determination to satisfy her artistic impulse, she moves to Chicago, where she falls in love with a wealthy married man. Her ability to resolve the tensions between her personal and professional lives and to communicate through her art makes her an unusual and thoroughly modern heroine.

    L. Lee says: "Not the fantatic book I had herd it was"

    Ken Burns on The Song of the Lark

    In Ken Burns' words: "The second book in Willa Cather’s Prairie trilogy is possibly her most autobiographical: it charts the journey of a young artist that eventually leads her from a remote Colorado town to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Your narrator is Pam Ward: her interpretation brings landscapes, events, and more than fifty characters to life with a warm and emotionally rich delivery."