©2008 David Pietrusza; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"Narrator Paul Boehmer involves himself and listeners by employing subtle emotions. One can hear appropriate inflections—sadness, joy, and petulance—in his words. His sentences flow into a comfortable narrative that sometimes includes poetry. Not resorting to any vocal characterization, he distinguishes the quotations with short pauses." (AudioFile)
The election of 1920 would have been unimportant had it not been for the fact that its participants affected our political history for the entire first half of the twentieth century. And often not in the noblest of ways. But the book points out how our history has been shaped by the most improbable of events, eerily repeated in the Bush/Chaney election at the dawn of the 21st century.
I agree with several of the criticisms put forth by other readers: that of the incomplete telling of our society around this election. There is some: women suffrage, black rights, socialism, but the 1920s were more than this. It was a period of women's liberation, wealth inequality, lack of government control, and isolation that are nearly off handedly touched on.
And there seems to be a certain prejudicial slant to the proceedings. Wilson and Delano Roosevelt (Democrats) are written to look particularly bad, whereas Harding's sins are touched on, but never developed, until the various people in Harding's cabinet are exposed briefly in the last chapter consisting of "what happened to them all." Harding was an adulterer, and his administration was riddled with scandal. The Teapot Dome scandal was brushed over in a few words, whereas Delano Roosevelt's disastrous handling of perversion in the Navy was given an entire chapter. Very little, in fact, was written about Harding's three year administration.
So, in all a very good book, but could have been much better.
The recording is beautifully produced, although you can hear the edits. The reader's diction impeccable.
Interesting premise -- that 6 past, present, and future presidents--were involved in the 1920 election. The author does a good job of painting the backdrop of the 1920 race. My rating, just 3 stars, actually should be 3.5 stars--to be fair.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a very well researched and well put-together history of the 1920 election -- although really the book gives more history that than to set the context before and after the election. Anyone interested in American presidential history should listen to it. So many of these important figures have been lost to time that it is good to hear their contributions described. One event that really had resonance to me in the current environment was the claim that Harding had "black blood" as a disqualification. I couldn't help thinking that this was the 1920 equivalent to the birther movement today. I seemed very similar to me. Worth the listen
Oh and one other thing. The narrator really grated on my nerves for the first couple of chapters. If you have the same impression hang in there -- I don't know if he got better or I just adjusted but after a while he falls into a nice rhythm.
I would definitely listen again. There are a lot of details here. That may scare some people off, but I thought it made the story that much richer. I loved the snarly quotes that the folks made about each other. Politicians haven't really changed much. The background material about each man was great--stuff I never knew about how they related to each other before they came to prominence.
I guess my favorite guy of the six was Calvin Coolidge. He was unflappable, and had nothing to hide. He knew what he wanted to do and did it. And he had great quips too!
I haven't listened to Paul Boehmer before, but I enjoyed his narration. I have another book upcoming that he narrates.
It wasn't a particularly moving book, I don't think it was intended so. It was fast paced and full of fascinating people, most of whom were slightly shady, each with an angle and a goal--personal gain. If there was one moment that did make its mark on me was Coolidge's description of how difficult it was for him to meet new people. He described how he always found himself "back at that big kitchen door" not really wanting to push it open to meet new people. I could relate to this. I admire him for accomplishing all he did.
I very much enjoyed this book. I have also read 1960 by the same author. Also a fine story with similar style and fascinating tidbits!
Have not read the print version. But the audio was pretty good. At times really having to concentrate on the narration. But overall a superb performance.
The telling of the riots and protests and general unrest in 1919. This even leading to mail bombs sent to judges and other elected officials, including the bombing of the home of the Attorney General of the US, who lived directly accross the street from FDR who was Assistant Sec. of War at the time.
Calvin Coolidge, he held more different elected offices then any other president in US history.
Neither. As a lover of history, it filled in some of the more detailed portions of that era that I was not totally aware of.
Overall this book is so intriguing and why I think books don't need to be made up to be as thrilling as real history. I enjoyed the details of the campaigns and lives of more then just those 6 men. I think it is interesting to make the comparisons between the protests and unrest of 1918-1919 to what we saw in 2011 with the occupy wall street protests. The unrest of the early 20th centry was much more widespread, but the socialist/anti-capitalist narrative of the two eras was/is pretty much the same.
I would have liked a tighter focus. It seemed the author reached in some areas to provide background and side stories that detracted from the main theme. Also the reading off of the vote tally in round after round of convention polling was tedious. It may have been less so in the printed book.
The first portion of the book, part 1 of the recording, was the strongest. It weakened after that.
I learned quite a bit about Harding, Wilson and Coolidge, presidents I had little knowledge about. Also I enjoyed reading about that time in U.S. history. I either never learned over forgot about some of the issues, such as the violence and bombings.
I would recommend the book, but some details were a little tedious.
It showed out the the different presidents' lives crossed and affected each other and the true character of each.
I felt I was listening to a person that was there when the events occurred.
How the US was molded by the different characters that ultimately became its presidents.
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