Charles Stembridge

Estacada, OR USA
  • 6
  • reviews
  • 107
  • helpful votes
  • 815
  • ratings
  • America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

  • By: Edward T. O'Donnell, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Edward T. O'Donnell
  • Length: 11 hrs and 52 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 430
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 385
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 386

America stands at a dramatic crossroads: Massive corporations wield disturbing power. The huge income gap between the one percent and the other 99 percent grows wider. Astounding new technologies are changing American lives.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another great course by Professor O'Donnell

  • By Quaker on 06-17-15

The Past is Prolog

5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-14-15

What made the experience of listening to America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era the most enjoyable?

The realization that so little has changed after over a hundred years.

Any additional comments?

"What's past is prologue"
--> William Shakespeare
"The Tempest", Act 2, Scene I George Santayana (1863 - 1952) <--

The lectures presented in "America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era" provide much food for thought, and it will not take long for the 'reader' to start comparing and contrasting events happening today.

That a few individuals, like John D. Rockefeller (Oil), Andrew Carnegie (Steel) and J.P. Morgan (Finance), just to mention a few, actually built the great industrial and financial power of the United States almost single-handidly is beyond question. There are good reasons these men, and others, are often called the 'Captains of Industry and Finance', and a like number of good reasons they are referred to as 'Robber Barons' in the same breath.

Laissez-faire economics, Capitalism, Mercantilism or 'Free Market' economy all have the same basic goal: A few individuals will be 'successful', everybody else will be a 'loser'. The more money the successful make, the more they want. There is no such thing as 'enough' money, only 'more' money. The 'Wealth Race' between Rockefeller and Carnegie is a perfect example. Money means Power, and the more money, the more power, until such vast fortunes are amassed that they can start dictating the 'rules of the road' to the government either by influence (called 'lobbyists') or out-and-out purchase (of key Congressmen through 'campaign financing'), and always to their advantage. This is exactly what happened during the 'Gilded Age'. It is also exactly what is happening today. Methodology has changed somewhat, but the Goal is the same.

Yesterday (during the Gilded age), The 'movers and shakers' of Industry and Finance formed vast 'Trusts'. Railroads, Steel, Financial Groups, even the meat packing industry, nearly every industry in the US became part of one 'Trust' or another. The word 'Trust' sounds so much better than 'Monopoly', but means exactly the same thing. When the Trusts became big enough, they were 'allowed' to buy up the competition, or drive them out of the market by underselling them (until they got what they wanted). The Methodology has changed somewhat today. Now, we have 'Leveraged Buyouts', 'Hostile Takeovers', and 'Corporate Mergers', which are, in reality, the same thing as a Trust. Back then, the Progressives became pretty good at 'Trust Busting', starting with Teddy Roosevelt, and limited at least some of their power. They (the Trusts) never went away entirely.

Who became the 'Losers' in this system? The usual suspects; the Third Estate, the Workers, the Middle-Class, anyone not rich enough to write the rules. During the 'Gilded Age', the work force had virtually no power, so 'they' started forming Unions to try to get 'management' to see their plight. If management refused to listen, they would simply walk off the job, refuse to work and even seize the factory (called a 'lockout') to prevent 'Scab' workers from being brought in. Management's answer was usually the same - Call in the Pinkertons (actually a private army), or the National Guard, or even the military to break up the strike, then hire new help that may be happy working a 16 hour day, 6 day week, for half-pay (as at Carnegie's Homestead Steel plant). The Progressive Movement was part of the push for unions, finally culminating in the 'Wagner Act' during FDR's presidency.

For a time, business was stymied by the Unions; they're here, and they're going to stay. What to do? It took awhile, but business finally found a solution: Globalization. Want to get rid of Unions? Simply pack up your production plant, and send it all to China, where Unions are not allowed (being a Communist country). Union problems solved! Now the workers can earn 39 cents/hour for a 12 hour day, six day week. That's what the happy workers at Apple's plant make for putting your iPhone together.

Hopefully, by 'reading' "America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era", some of us 'may' learn from History. As long as America lives by 'The Golden Rule', not a lot can be done about it, even by the Progressives. What is 'The Golden Rule'? "He who has the Gold, makes the Rules". Indeed, The Past is Prolog.

3 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Timeline

  • By: Michael Crichton
  • Narrated by: John Bedford Lloyd
  • Length: 15 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,899
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,014
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,027

Modern science meets feudal France...dinosaurs still walk the Earth...a secret world of killer gorillas...only in a Michael Crichton thriller! Check out our full selection in our Crichton store!

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Narrator

  • By Charles Stembridge on 06-26-07


4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-26-07

I enjoyed this book more than most, and am now 1/3 of the way through my second listining. I almost didn't start it the second time because of the narrator.

Most of his vocal charactarizations were at least OK, even his Arnold imitation of the Merrik character got the point across that he wasen't an American. To show that he was Dutch, and use Goldmember's accent (Bring out Austin Power's Faaasha!) would have been too much. I can live with this one.

The use of a whispering voice for the Gordon character, who was key for many important science-type explainations, was the most annoying. I listen to AudioBooks while driving, and had to back up and shove my ear plug right up against my eardrum to hear what the character was trying to say. Also, whenever two of the other characters were involved in an 'aside' between themselves (like saying something they didn't want the others to hear), the narrator would actually either whisper, or lower his voice so much that I couldn't hear what was going on.

I gave the book a '4' for content and general listenability. I had to average in the '1' I gave for narration. The narrator should be required to listen to his own performance before being allowed to release this edition to the public.

Otherwise, I found the Quantum theory explainations to be facinating. "If you can explain Quantum Physics, you don't understand it yourself." Its so counter-intuitive, and trashes most or all 'Natural Laws', that explaining it at all was quite a streach. Good job here.

This book is a Cliff-Hanger, Sci-Fi, psudo-historical genre. If you don't like this type of fiction, don't buy it. Of course its going to be somewhat predictable. Naturally its going to be a 'damsel in distress' old movie seriel type of book. Expect it!

I liked especially the descriptions of Medevil France. I've read alot of histories, but none brought across the absolute brutality of this world as well as this author. Life back then was Short & Violent.

63 of 65 people found this review helpful

Sloop of War audiobook cover art
  • Sloop of War

  • By: Alexander Kent
  • Narrated by: Michael Jayston
  • Length: 11 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

April 1778, English Harbour, Antigua. As the French enter the American War of Independence in earnest, young Richard Bolitho is given his first command: Sparrow, a fast, well-armed fighting sloop. At last he has the chance to prove his abilities as a junior captain. But he faces other challenges too, threats as real and deadly as the enemy itself.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Series

  • By Charles Stembridge on 09-20-05

Excellent Series

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-20-05

The Alexander Kent series of Richard Bolitho sea-going adventures are the best I have ever read (and I have really read nearly every book published). When Kent describes a sea battle you can 'hear' the cannon roar. If you have ever read the 'Horatio Hornblower' series (CF Forrester), these are even better!

I certainly hope Audible.Com will present the other books in this fine series. 'Sloop of War' is the second book of the series and 'Cross of St. George' must be the last (Bolitho is KIA in 1815). 'With All Dispatch' occures somewhere in the middle of the series (1792).

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • New World Coming

  • The 1920s and the Making of Modern America
  • By: Nathan Miller
  • Narrated by: Lloyd James
  • Length: 18 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 81
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 47

Jazz. Bootleggers. Flappers. Talkies. Model T Fords. Lindbergh's history-making flight over the Atlantic. The 1920s was also the decade of the hard-won vote for women, racial injustice, censorship, social conflict, and the birth of organized crime.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My High School History Class Never Told

  • By Charles Stembridge on 06-29-04

My High School History Class Never Told

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-29-04

I'm only half-way through this book, but I already wish I had to drive much more than I do. This book is a really engrossing study of the '20s, and Mr Lloyd is one of the best readers I have heard yet.

The author presents all the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the 1920s, and there was plenty of each. There is much more to the '20s than Prohibition and Flappers - there were the almost unknown (today)administrations of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Neither president was a 'great', but neither was as bad as usually presented in HS history classes either. There was Henery Ford's dream of an automobile that 'everyone' could afford, and the way his dream totally changed America.

Much more is in this book than I could list here. I gave this book a '5' rating because of the clarity of writing and the excellent reading talent. Highly recommended to any 'student' of American History.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Company Aytch

  • A Side Show of the Big Show
  • By: Sam Watkins
  • Narrated by: Dan Calhoun
  • Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 126
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 57

This book is considered to be the best account of the Civil War ever written from the Confederate point of view. It is also the one most frequently cited by historians of the Western campaigns. Sam Watkins, a high private in the Army of Tennessee, brings a vividness and detail to his story unmatched in the genre.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Company Aytch

  • By Jan on 01-14-05

A Great Book, the Wrong Reader

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-28-04

Sam Watkins' (1st Tennessee, CSA) "Company Aytch" is one of the best accounts of the Civil War written by an eye witness. Having a Yankee reader for this Southerner's story, however, really detracted from the listening experience. The book earns a '5', but I only gave the reader '3' simply because of his obviously Yankee twang. A better 'accented' reader surley should have been found.

"Company Aytch" is considered a Classic in this genera, as well as it should be. I could not imagine a modern infantryman putting up with the privations, executions and real battle slaughter as happened during the Civil War.

The companion book to "Company Aytch" is "All For the Union", written by Elisha Hunt Rhodes (2nd Rhode Island, USA). Between the two of these men, they served through all four years of the Civil War from 1st Manassas to Appomattax, through every major engagement between North and South, and lived to tell the tale. Neither are 'Big Bugs', as Sam Watkins puts it, just a couple of plain private soldiers (although Rhodes advanced to Lt. by the war's end, while Watkins only made it to Corporal).

For a 'real' look at the Civil War, read BOTH of these books. Well Recommended!

11 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • The Iliad

  • The Story of Achilles
  • By: Homer
  • Narrated by: Anthony Heald
  • Length: 13 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 74
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37

Homer's Iliad can justly be called the world's greatest war epic. The terrible and long-drawn-out siege of Troy remains one of the classic campaigns, the heroism and treachery of its combatants unmatched in song and story. Driven by fierce passions and loyalties, men and gods battle to a devastating conclusion.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A good translation and narrator.

  • By J.C. on 11-03-03

A Great Disappointment

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-07-03

If you are looking for the beautiful Homeric Iambic Pentameter poety of Ancient Greece, you are NOT going to find it in this recording. The entire epic has been re-done in a pseudo-Elizabethan English prose, and read by one of the worst readers it has ever been my DISpleasure to listen to. Nadia May's voice not only has an irritating tembre to it, her accent is almost unintelligable to an American ear. The whole tone of her voice reminds me of a disapproving English Auntie.
Please note that I have reviewed many of the books I have gotten from Audible, and this is the first one I have completly panned. The book certainly did not deserve the 'One Star' rating I gave it, but there is no 'Zero Star' rating.

I would still like to find 'The Illiad' in the original version.

14 of 29 people found this review helpful