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  • Beautiful Country Burn Again

  • Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution
  • By: Ben Fountain
  • Narrated by: Ron Butler
  • Length: 14 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45

Beautiful Country Burn Again narrates a shocking year in American politics, moving from the early days of the Iowa Caucus to the crystalizing moments of the Democratic and Republican national conventions, and culminating in the aftershocks of the weeks following election night. Along the way, Fountain probes deeply into history, illuminating the forces and watershed moments of the past that mirror and precipitated the present, from the hollowed-out notion of the American Dream, to Richard Nixon’s Southern strategy, to the cult of celebrity that gave rise to Donald Trump.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Must read

  • By Gerald Moore on 11-01-18

Completely brilliant, with exceptional narration.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-05-18

Ben Fountain hits a tonal sweet spot between Theodore H. White and Hunter S. Thompson in this scholarly yet vivid and accessible analysis of American political self-hosification. It's a courageous antidote to the toxic levels of partisan bullshit in which we now dog-paddle. I also really like the overall structure -- news bulletins nicely leavening the deeper delves.

The Chickenhawk chapter alone is Pulitzer material. In it, Fountain uses Ambrose Bierce to illuminate not only our country's horrific history of war, but our devolving attitude toward waging it.

Sometimes you just need to clear the deck and acknowledge a great truth in the world. This is one of those times. I expect BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY to win some major awards. Every American should read it and talk about it.

Ron Butler deserves a lot of credit here too, for perfect inflection throughout, and for subtly mimicking the well-known voices of our age -- Bill Clinton, for example -- without overdoing it. My wife and I will probably listen to this book again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • On the Road: The Original Scroll

  • By: Jack Kerouac
  • Narrated by: John Ventimiglia
  • Length: 12 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 282
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 259
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 261

Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951, in an apartment on West 20th Street in Manhattan, that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Classic Brought to Life

  • By yoguinha on 11-25-16

Exceptional presentation of a whacky masterpiece

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-25-18

I'd read a version of this book many years ago, which I think was much abridged. I realize with this version that Kerouac really produced a masterpiece. Sure, it's incredibly weird and, at times, seemingly self-indulgent, but, my God, that man could write. He's always slicing off perfect sentences that nail a particular person, city, situation, or, quite often, America itself.

John Ventimiglia's exceptional narration deserves special praise. He gets every voice exactly right and perfectly sustains Kerouac's tone of urgent seeking throughout. However, even the best narrators manage to mispronounce something. In this case, the mangled word is "Berthoud," as in Berthoud Pass (should be BUR-thed). But that's a minuscule blemish on a masterful piece of work. I only mention it to ensure it doesn't happen again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Bleak House

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 32 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 543
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 318
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 314

First published in monthly parts from March 1852 to September 1853, this novel follows the fortunes of three pedestrian characters; Esther Summerson, Ada Clare, and Richard Carstone. The story they tell embondies Dickens' merciless indictment of the Court of Chancery and its bungling, morally corrupt handling of the endless case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, giving the novel its scope and meaning.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 30 hours was too short for me

  • By UU Ma on 01-08-03

Simon Vance is phenomenal

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-23-14

Would you consider the audio edition of Bleak House to be better than the print version?

Yes.

What other book might you compare Bleak House to and why?

David Copperfield. The same great Dickens-Vance combo.

What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The characters are individualized, and truly brought to life with his subtle accents. His characterizations are never over the top -- just perfect.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Law and disorder.

Any additional comments?

Charles Dickens should have been knighted. Simon Vance's salary is probably too low.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • End This Depression Now!

  • By: Paul Krugman
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro, Paul Krugman
  • Length: 8 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 312
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 255
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 254

The Great Recession that began in 2007 is now more than four years old - and counting. Some 24 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, and at recent rates of job creation we won’t be back to normal levels of employment until late this decade. This is a tragedy. Do we have to accept it? "No!" is the resounding answer given by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman in this call to arms. We have seen this situation before and we know how to fix it; all we lack is the political will to take action.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Listen to this before you vote!

  • By Michael on 08-30-12

Clear, timely, and inspiring

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-18-12

EVERYONE should read this book. It's easy to understand, funny, compassionate, and exactly the right prescription to end the suffering.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Storm of War

  • A New History of the Second World War
  • By: Andrew Roberts
  • Narrated by: Christian Rodska
  • Length: 28 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 790
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 677
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 683

The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion, and claimed the lives of more than 50 million people. Why did the Axis lose? And could they, with a different strategy, have won? Andrew Roberts's acclaimed new history has been hailed as the finest single-volume account of this epic conflict. From the western front to North Africa, from the Baltic to the Far East, he tells the story of the war - the grand strategy and the individual experience, the cruelty and the heroism - as never before.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A very interesting book with some shortcomings.

  • By Mike From Mesa on 10-24-11

Good performance, weaker story

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-24-11

This history is interesting as far as it goes, but the focus is heavily on Europe and the Nazis. The Pacific Theater is given such cursory attention that I found myself wondering if the scope of the book had changed during the writing. By the end, I felt as if I knew many of the Nazi generals intimately -- not something I necessarily wanted -- whereas the quirky Japanese leaders are almost entirely ignored.

Andrew Roberts justifiably dedicates long chapters to the Nazi - USSR conflict, the scope of which was apparently unappreciated for decades. But comparably historic battles in the Pacific are given mere paragraphs, and many fascinating cultural aspects of that conflict are not mentioned at all, even in passing.

I'm also sorry to say that the author's biases are readily apparent. He is not overtly anti-American, but subtly and consistently so. He never misses an opportunity to mention, for example, that American soldiers ran from battle on at least one occasion and also committed rape. Yet he provides no comparable information on other Allied troops, other than the Soviets.

I suspect his neglect of the Pacific is related to this bias. He does detail the conflict in Burma, which is edifying, as it has probably been largely overlooked in other WWII histories. But this simply allows Mr, Roberts to linger lovingly on marginally effective British jungle heroics while minimizing the American initiative on the high seas. He gives the Americans full credit for producing huge quantities of weapons, but he could hardly fail to do that.

The American soldier -- whose toughness was amply demonstrated, especially in the Pacific -- is not given much credit in this book. For a deeper appreciation, I recommend UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand.

Christian Rodska does a fine job of narration. He is a gifted mimic of Winston Churchill, and this is especially enjoyable. He is less successful with Roosevelt and other American accents.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful