©2000 Evan Thomas; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"Thomas' book sheds new light on a man, an era, and a family about whom Americans will probably never know the whole truth." (Publishers Weekly)
"Friends and foes have spun enough myths about RFK to bewilder the casual reader; Thomas sets out to examine the evidence....A solid, judicious life of a politician whose tragic death inspired a generation of what-if history." (Booklist)
"Robert F. Kennedy....is well served by this gracefully written, thoroughly researched, and accessible popular biography....Thomas' narrative, skillfully woven from numerous interviews, vividly reveals a very human Kennedy." (Library Journal)
A well researched, well read book. I almost passed on this book based on the couple of reviews that pan the reader. How glad I am that I listened anyway. The book is well researched and, accordingly, has numerous quotations, even "starting in mid-sentence." The reader's change of voice makes it crystal clear what material is the author's and what belongs to the historical characters. I can't imagine listening without such a reading. An audio listener would miss much that the reader would know from the printed page. Just perfect.
Regarding the content, Thomas is masterful. Good biographies put the reader "there." Great ones put the reader "inside the subject." The best ones let the author's understanding of the subject explain how and what the subject was thinking, and the author lays out the rationale so the explanation is real and not mere conjecture. This is true throughout this book, from Bobby's childhood to his actions throughout the complex relationship with Hoover.
I have the hardcover of this very fine book and was looking forward to reviewing it in audio form. However, the narrator uses a voice more common to perhaps a batman comic book, and somewhere along the line a decision was made that rather than simply using a change of voice to indicate quoted material, the author changes his voice in a terribly weak attempt to sound like the quoted character...he does this even with female voices. His attempts at a "Harvard" accent when quoting the brothers Kennedy and other characters in the book is a terrible distraction to otherwise fine material. I give two starts based upon content alone...and that would be higher but the narrator is such a disappointment that the score must be driven down. Perhaps because my most recent audio book was David McCullough's 1776 and he does such a great job I was expecting too much, but this work is very, very difficult to listen to. I mean, really, does he HAVE to try to impersonate Rose Kennedy in order to get his point across?
This biography is excellently written and well-read. It offers a balanced portrait of a man who, though not perfect, moved at the turbulent center of the times in which he lived and who, in the process, became a symbol of heartfelt dignity and justice to a generation of Americans.
Before buying this book I read the reviews and noticed two things in common. Everybody loved the content, and everybody disliked the narrator. Having now listened to the whole book, I agree that the content is brilliant. But I also find that the narration is very well done also. Some of the voices can be somewhat distracting, especially the female ones, but the narrator doesn't miss a beat between switching voices and overall does a very good job.
In short, content and narration are definately 5 star, and I highly recommend this book to all.
I listen to audio books while working.
The book is well researched and gives a wide-ranging background on Bobbie, which is wonderful -- and eye-opening -- the great and the worst of the man. Gives a good background on the family as well, and the narrator is one of the best I have ever heard -- we will look for his narrations again.
This book contains great information on RFK. It neither demonized nor cannonized him. It just told his story both good and bad. The narrator is the absolute worst. Suffer through it though, it's well worth it.
I have to agree with the review by Andrew on 3/7/07. I love this biography of one of the most interesting and complex Americans who came from great wealth but became a champion of those who were denied basic human dignity. RFK is the last presidential candidate who truly inspired me and I was looking forward to listening to this biography during a long plane trip. However, the narrator of this wonderful book has ruined it by attempting to mimic voices and accents when quoting various individuals, including using a falsetto for female speakers. And the Boston accent was disasterous. I found the atttempts to mimic extremely distracting. Content deserves 5 stars but the narration warrants only 2 stars.
Like others here, I would have really enjoyed this book if it had been read by almost anyone else. The narrator's constant use of (really bad) impressions was jarring. He doesn't do any of them particularly well, so one wonders why he was allowed to do them at all. Voices are fine in fiction, but completely unnecessary in a biography.
The author of this book wrote it with an interest in history, not in mythology. He stated and correctly so, it was not clear that RFK would have even won the nomination had he survived. While the book was tedious at times, so was RFK's life. The author did an excellent job in giving us a real life view of what RFK was like, pointing out his failings as well as his successes.
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