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Tad Davis

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  • Doctor Who: The Macra Terror

  • By: Ian Stuart Black
  • Narrated by: Colin Baker
  • Length: 1 hr and 34 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 20

When the Doctor, Polly, and Ben visit a human colony that appears to be one big holiday camp they think they have come across a truly happy place. But a shadowy presence soon makes them realise that the surface contentment is carefully controlled. The colony's inhabitants have been brainwashed by giant crab-like creatures - the Macra. Insidious propaganda, broadcast by the Controller, forces the humans to mine a gas that is essential for the Macra to survive - but fatal to them. The colony must be saved - but how?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not Coilin Baker but the wonderful Anneke Wills

  • By Leanne Carkeet on 02-19-15

Giant insects

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

Reviewed: 09-14-18

Not being especially fond of insects, I was perfectly happy to listen to this one rather than watching it. (Good thing, since the video has been lost.) The more I see and hear Patrick Troughton, the more impressed I am by the subtle depth he brings to the role of the second Doctor.

  • Doctor Who - The Spectre of Lanyon Moor

  • By: Nicholas Pegg
  • Narrated by: Colin Baker, Nicholas Courtney, Maggie Stables
  • Length: 2 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9

In a desolate Cornish landscape littered with relics of prehistoric man, the Doctor and Evelyn uncover a catalogue of mysteries. What is the secret of the fog? Can the moor be haunted by a demonic host of imps? And what is Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart doing in Pengriffen? Teaming up with his old friend, the Doctor realises that an ancient conflict is nearing its conclusion - and Lanyon Moor is set to be the final battleground. Written and directed by Nicholas Pegg.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • All this, and Alastair too

  • By Tad Davis on 08-29-18

All this, and Alastair too

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

Reviewed: 08-29-18

It’s a pleasure to see how audio has given a new lease on life to the sixth Doctor. Colin Baker’s Doctor remains abrasive and sometimes downright rude, but he is also passionately concerned about the inhabitants of earth. Great and sometimes terrifying sound effects; plus the Brig!

  • The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories

  • By: Nikolai Gogol
  • Narrated by: Nicholas Boulton
  • Length: 17 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories is a bizarre and colorful collection containing the finest short stories by the iconic Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. From the witty and Kafkaesque "The Nose", where a civil servant wakes up one day to find his nose missing, to the moving and evocative "The Overcoat", about a reclusive man whose only ambition is to replace his old, threadbare coat, Gogol gives us a unique take on the absurd. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Diary of a Madman and other stories

  • By mdc on 08-29-18

Delightful start to finish

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

Reviewed: 08-21-18

I can’t imagine a better narrator than Nicholas Boulton for this delightful collection of stories. Every character gets his due, every lyrical description of nature its music.

I’d read The Nose and The Overcoat but had never dipped far into Gogol’s stories. They are grouped into Petersburg Tales (6 stories) and Ukrainian Tales (7 stories), and the two sets of stories are quite different. The Nose and The Overcoat belong to the first group, and while the stories are urban and mostly realistic, there are (obviously) flights of fancy and absurdity. The second group, mostly populated by Cossack soldiers and villagers, occasionally takes a darker turn: there are witches, devils, and wizards weaving in and out of these stories: there are dead men who rise from their graves and moan about being stifled.

One of them, Viy, is the scariest ghost story I’ve ever read. Another one, Christmas Eve, pictures a world where witches and devils show up in a small village to wreak havoc. A blacksmith loves a young woman, but she sets him an almost impossible task: to give her a pair of shoes worthy of the Tsaritsa. But the story hardly follows a straight line. It reads like an improvisation, a story told by a master storyteller who had no idea how his story would end when he started telling it. I mean that in a good way: the story is always surprising and ultimately very satisfying.

A great collection and a treat to listen to. It left me hungering for more Gogol.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Beast in Man

  • By: Emile Zola
  • Narrated by: Peter Newcombe Joyce
  • Length: 15 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

Sex, betrayal, murder and corruption form the basis of this sensational novel by one of the leading French authors of the 19th century. Jacques Lantier is a man with a hereditary homicidal lust. When he sees Roubaud and his wife Severine slit the throat of a wealthy nobleman, it is the catalyst for a string of murders in a convoluted plot full of horror and suspense.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Furious pace

  • By Tad Davis on 08-10-18

Furious pace

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

Reviewed: 08-10-18

Zola’s novels, at least the ones I’ve read, seem to be focused on everything that is worst about human beings: greed, violence, promiscuous sex, putrefaction, and squalor. Yet his plots are exciting - if at times melodramatic - and his characters thoroughly developed. So as unpleasant as they may be, they make compelling reading.

The Beast in Man (or, as I believe it could be translated, The Human Beast) is about trains: sort of. It's really about the people who make the trains go, but there are times when the great hulking machines themselves seem alive. A wrecked engine is pronounced "dying" and then "dead." An engine being driven for the first time is having its "virginity taken." The engines are given names by their engineers and caressed like lovers.

Zola has mastered his subject and presents it to us with a wealth of circumstantial and convincing detail; and it takes the form of a novel-sized metaphor, with the fate of the characters hurtling down the tracks like a train with no driver. His description of a train derailment in one chapter - with Peter Joyce’s passionate narration - has a visceral impact light years beyond train wrecks in films like The Fugitive and Under Siege 2. Only when the deafening scream of escaping steam recedes can the screams of the survivors be heard. I don’t often shudder when reading a book, but I shuddered repeatedly while listening to this passage.

The mainspring of the plot is a murder - the murder of a railroad official who'd imposed himself on Severine when she was only 15; the murder is carried out by her husband, a decade of more after the fact. It almost takes place off stage. We know Severine and Roubaud are planning it, but the only glimpse we get of it is a fleeting one - the flash of the knife, a throat being cut - seen through a train window by a third character, Jacques. He thinks it was Roubaud. He thinks a hulking mass he saw in a corner of the window was Severine. But he can't be sure; the train was hurtling by at 80 kilometers an hour.

Zola hides the details of the crime until much later in the book, when Severine confesses her involvement to Jacques, who has become her lover. (Zola's treatment of sex - his willingness to talk about passion and naked bodies - is never more than R-rated but is still shocking to anyone who thinks of 19th century fiction as "Victorian.") The confession scene could be simple exposition, but it isn't: it becomes the chief cause of the climactic action. Severine doesn’t know it, but Jacques himself has long harbored homicidal impulses, and her confession has an unexpected effect: it whets his appetite for making his own fantasies a reality.

Throughout the book, Zola’s writing is powerful and naked, almost tortured. There are so many lost souls here, so many broken people. I’ve read that Zola was a determinist and a fatalist. Unlike the curses laid on families by the ancient gods, the families of Zola suffer from genetic defects. Whole families are infected, from generation to generation, by alcoholism, violence, greed, and lust. You might call it the Bad Seed school of destiny. I haven’t found that so obvious in the books I’ve read, where individuals seem to be cursed by no more than our common fate, that of being human beings with bewildering and contradictory motives, in a hostile universe. Despite the intensity of Jacques’ bloodlust, Zola treats him sympathetically: he struggles against the role fate has assigned him, and his downfall is pitiable.

As I said, Joyce gives a passionate reading. He is by far the brightest star among narrators who mostly record for their own company. The one odd thing about this recording is that there are no chapter breaks. Certainly the audiobook is divided into chapters, but the divisions are arbitrary, coming almost anywhere, sometimes (it seems) even in the middle of a paragraph. What I mean is that Zola’s chapter breaks are never announced. The book is read as if it were a single long narrative. It wasn't a problem as far as the pace is concerned, because the narrative races along like that out-of-control train. It was just a problem sometimes knowing where to stop and take a break. I always did that reluctantly.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Beatles '66

  • The Revolutionary Year
  • By: Steve Turner
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 33

The year that changed everything for the Beatles was 1966 - the year of their last concert and of Revolver, their first album created to be listened to rather than performed. This was the year the Beatles risked their popularity by retiring from live performances, recording songs that explored alternative states of consciousness, experimenting with avant-garde ideas, and speaking their minds on issues of politics, war, and religion. Music journalist and Beatles expert Steve Turner investigates the enormous changes that took place in the Beatles' lives and work during 1966.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • New information on a pivotal year in Beatles music

  • By tru britty on 03-29-18

Great listen

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

Reviewed: 07-28-18

What a treat - my favorite group and my favorite narrator, together at last!

Steve Turner’s book focuses on a single year in the Beatles’ career: 1966, when they recorded the album “Revolver” - one that many people feel was a more significant innovation than “Sgt Pepper.” It’s the album of Eleanor Rigby and Taxman: the album of floating downstream with the help of Indian music and psychelic drugs and a doctor who hands out amphetamines like candy. It was the album where the Beatles made a full-time commitment to developing songs in the studio rather than on the road.

1966 was also the year of touring - Japan, the Philippines, Shea Stadium, Candlestick Park - when the Beatles discovered that large numbers of people not only disliked them but actively wished them harm. The Philippines were especially scary: they were seen as having insulted Imelda Marcos, and had to make their way to the airport without the customary police escort. The US provided its own backdrop of threats: this was the year when John’s comment about Jesus led to bonfires that burned Beatles records and memorabilia, and the United Klans of America picketed their concerts. They were threatened with assassination on stage.

And it was the year when Yoko Ono first appeared in the Beatles’ orbit. She and John Lennon locked eyes at an exhibition of her work and instantly realized that they “got” each other.

The actual recording of Revolver takes up most of April and May. By the end of the year, they have recorded Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, and Paul is mapping out his concept for Sgt Pepper. But the music is only part of the story. Turner quotes generously from the interviews each Beatle had with Maureen Cleave. And he quotes from his own interviews: he was there, and he talked to many of the principals like George Martin. Each Beatle appears in this narrative as an individual, someone with a life that existed independently of their participation in the group. Although John and Paul dominate the narrative, George and Ringo are for once given their due as more than sidemen; George’s growing interest in Indian culture and religion is given particular attention.

I think the book will be interesting and entertaining even for people who have only a cursory knowledge of the Beatles. It helps to know who Brian Epstein and George Martin are, and the roles they played in the Beatles’ evolution. But it isn’t necessary to have read Philip Norman or Mark Lewisohn to appreciate Turner’s detailed account of this important stage in their career.

While much of the information is already known to Beatles fans, there were some surprises, at least for me. I had never heard of the singer Alma Cogan before, but it appears that she and John had a significant relationship, and he was devastated by her death in late 1966.

Simon Vance can do a hundred different voices without batting an eye, which makes him an especially appealing narrator of fiction. For nonfiction books like this, his approach is more subtle. He doesn’t try to imitate the voices of the Beatles directly, but by slight variations in tone and rhythm,he captures the distinctive speech patterns of each.

Great listen. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Nana

  • By: Émile Zola
  • Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
  • Length: 17 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

Nana Coupeau is a beautiful woman, able to attract men of enormous wealth with the crook of her finger. Part-time prostitute, part-time actress, she makes her debut in a mediocre operetta The Blonde Venus at the bustling Paris World’s Fair of 1867. She can’t sing, act, or dance, yet she is stunning. Nana soon rockets through elite Parisian society, and, blinded by desire, men crawl to her feet, yielding to her every demand. Affections are manipulated, hearts are broken; fortunes are gutted and inheritances squandered. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful and devastating

  • By Tad Davis on 07-23-18

Beautiful and devastating

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

Reviewed: 07-23-18

With this production of “Nana,” Naxos provides another excellent entry in its series of 19th century classics. I hope there are more Zola novels to come, especially with Leighton Pugh as narrator.

“Nana” is a tragic story, beautifully written. Zola has the curious ability to write about things he finds detestable - like drunkenness and prostitution - with great compassion and a brilliant eye for the telling detail. The characters are individuals, not just by virtue of external mannerisms and speech, but through a deep perception of their motives and failings.

Nana, although she takes great joy in life, has little awareness or concern for the effect she has on others. She is a prostitute with an almost hypnotic beauty. She tries to parlay this into a career as an actress, but though her physical form enchants Parisian audiences, her acting and singing are somewhat lacking (to put it mildly). Though she spends most of the novel in the keeping of Count Muffat, she strings a number of other men along, leaving behind her a trail of suicidal and financially ruined former lovers.

Zola is never explicit about sex, but it leaves unmistakable traces in every chapter. For example, Nana needs 400 francs to pay a debt; she leaves for two hours; she returns with 400 francs in an envelope. There’s no question how she earned it. A visit to a dive turns out to be an introduction to same-sex relationships - again without ever saying so in quite so many words. The relentless focus on Nana’s beauty leads to the devastating final paragraphs of the novel.

“Nana” can be a tough listen for someone (like me) who doesn’t have the hang of French pronunciation. Many chapters are crowded set-pieces with dozens of people, and I often found it hard to distinguish the names. My solution was to download the text of the novel - there are plenty available, both free and paid - and look up the names while listening to the first few chapters until I became familiar with them.

Zola is a compelling novelist, although it must be said there’s little humor in his dire view of Parisian society. I loved it and hope to listen to it again soon.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Portrait of a Lady

  • By: Henry James
  • Narrated by: John Wood
  • Length: 23 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 424
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 341
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 345

When Isabel Archer, a beautiful, spirited American, is brought to Europe by her wealthy aunt Touchett, it is expected that she will soon marry. But Isabel, resolved to enjoy the freedom that her fortune has opened up and to determine her own fate, does not hesitate to turn down two eligible suitors, declaring that she will never marry. It is only when she finds herself irresistibly drawn to the cultivated but worthless Gilbert Osmond that she discovers that wealth is a two-edged sword.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Highly recommended

  • By David on 06-26-10

The first James novel I enjoyed

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

Reviewed: 07-14-18

At last: a Henry James novel that I actually enjoyed! Part of that is due to the wonderful narration of James Wood; part to the spirited character of Isabel Archer, whose intelligence and good humor surpass those of any other James character I’ve read.

Isabel is a young American woman who visits her expat cousins in England. There she meets with unexpected good fortune, but her naïveté leads her into an unwise relationship with a couple of gold-diggers. The ending of the novel is ambiguous, but I choose to regard it as moving toward a moderately happy ending that lies just outside the boundaries of the novel.

The characters are all sharply drawn and full of life. Special honors go to the American journalist Henrietta Stackpoole, an inveterate gossip and a good and loyal friend. Even the villains of the piece, nasty and cold as they are, have motives that rescue them from being caricatures.

James Wood breathes life into the novel with a brilliant take on each character. It’s a tough one: there is such a mixture of British and American voices that it’s hard for any one narrator to get it all right. I’ve read some comments here about his failure to quite get the American accents right; all I can say is that, as an American, the accents sounded fine to me — at least, they didn’t call attention to themselves as irritants.

I have two more Henry James novels on my bucket list. I hope I’m as lucky with them. I’d be happy to listen to this one again.

  • The Wars of Reconstruction

  • The Brief, Violent History of America's Most Progressive Era
  • By: Douglas R. Egerton
  • Narrated by: Eric Martin
  • Length: 16 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 97
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87

A groundbreaking new history, telling the stories of hundreds of African-American activists and officeholders who risked their lives for equality - in the face of murderous violence - in the years after the Civil War. By 1870, just five years after Confederate surrender and 13 years after the Dred Scott decision ruled blacks ineligible for citizenship, Congressional action had ended slavery and given the vote to black men. That same year, Hiram Revels and Joseph Hayne Rainey became the first African-American U.S. senator and congressman respectively.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Essential reading for all Americans.

  • By Becky on 09-23-15

Atrocities

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

Reviewed: 07-05-18

As a chronological history of Reconstruction, “The Wars of Reconstruction” seems fragmented at times; the story of the rise and fall of the Klan, for example, appears in bits and pieces across several chapters, and is somewhat diluted as a result. But Egerton is writing a different book, not a strictly chronological history but one that highlights the organized violence that destroyed this promising attempt at progressive reform. The narrative is filled with accounts of appalling murders, massacres, and mutilations. (In one case, a supporter of Reconstruction was allowed to live, but only after he’d been taken into a swamp and castrated. In other cases, peaceful assemblies of freed people were broken up and hundreds killed.)

The depth of racism in the post-Civil War South is almost unbelievable. The dignified debates of the South Carolina constitutional convention were, in the popular imagination, a minstrel-show mockery of government. (I’ve read transcripts of some of those debates, and they are impressive.) Benjamin Randolph, a black state senator, fought hard to include provisions for universal public education, and to increase voting rights for blacks and whites. He was gunned down by the Klan in October 1868.

One of the most wrenching parts of the book describes the thousands of personal ads taken out by freed people; some black-owned newspapers were largely devoted to this. The ads were attempts to track down spouses and children who’d been separated by slave-owners looking for ready cash. Parents knew who their children had been sold to, but not where they’d ended up. The fabric of family life had been destroyed.

Egerton carries his narrative well into the 20th century. He describes the efforts of African American scholars like WEB Du Bois to set the record straight on Reconstruction, and the futility of their efforts as the racist glorification of The Lost Cause took root in American cultural life. Many, if not most, Americans today think of Reconstruction as an evil attempt by carpetbaggers and scalawags, along with illiterate and gullible blacks, to profit off the degradation of the South. If nothing else, the accounts of courage in the face of the atrocities in this book will show that version of history as the atrocious lie that it is.

Eric Martin’s narration is steady and matter-of-fact throughout.

  • American Colossus

  • The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900
  • By: H. W. Brands
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 23 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 155
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 123
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 120

The three decades after the Civil War saw a wholesale shift in American life, and the cause was capitalism. Driven by J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and oth­ers like them, armies of men and women were harnessed to a new vision of massive industry. A society rooted in the soil became one based in cities, and legions of immigrants were drawn to American shores. Brands portrays the stunning trans­formation of the landscape and institutions of American life in these years.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 8 Thoughts on 'American Colossus'

  • By Joshua Kim on 06-10-12

Strong narrative

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

Reviewed: 06-29-18

With his usual narrative drive and extensive quotations from participants, HW Brands gives a portrait of the Gilded Age and the rise of the robber barons. Democracy and capitalism are usually described as apples and oranges — one a political system, the other economic — but Brands draws them in sharp opposition. He shows beyond question the way that free-range capitalism makes a mockery of democratic government.

As an overall history of the age, it’s lacking. Reconstruction is barely mentioned, and when it comes up, the focus is mainly on the effect of reconstruction policies on money. Most cultural trends are ignored. He misses a golden opportunity by severely limiting his references to Mark Twain: Twain was a perfect embodiment of the age, and nearly died on the shoals of capitalist envy. But he appears here mainly as the man who gave the Gilded Age its name.

Brands also steers clear of atrocities. Capitalism’s war on labor is described in exciting detail, but the far greater evil of white southerners’ war on freed slaves is only briefly touched on. In describing America’s imperialism of the 1890s, he includes only a brief mention of the atrocities committed by American troops in the Philippines. It was this very crime that turned Mark Twain from a self-satisfied expansionist into an angry and bitter opponent of imperialism.

But within the terms he’s set for himself, Brands makes his case. The robber barons — Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan — are all here; so are the champions of labor — Eugene Debs, Henry George, Coxey’s Army. And Teddy Roosevelt, imperialist AND trust-buster, cuts an imposing figure in the later chapters. While giving capitalism credit for some of the gains in living standards enjoyed by Americans, there’s not much doubt that his overall sympathies are on the side of labor.

It’s a pleasure to hear all this related in Robertson Dean’s smooth, deep voice. Once I got into it, I had trouble putting the audiobook down.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Statesman and the Storyteller

  • John Hay, Mark Twain, and the Rise of American Imperialism
  • By: Mark Zwonitzer
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 25 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 25
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23

John Hay, Lincoln's private secretary and later secretary of state under presidents McKinley and Roosevelt, and Samuel Langhorne Clemens, famous as "Mark Twain", grew up 50 miles apart on the banks of the Mississippi River in the same rural antebellum stew of race, class, and want. This shared history drew them together in the late 1860s, and their mutual admiration never waned in spite of sharp differences.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Chocked full of wit and wisdom!

  • By David J. Rosenbrock on 06-28-17

Good story well told

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

Reviewed: 06-05-18

The central notion of this book - the friendship of Sam Clemens and John Hay - doesn’t hold up that well. They are more acquaintances than friends, and they move in different social circles. But the book succeeds brilliantly anyway. It’s a good story well told, an outstanding example of narrative nonfiction.

It covers a critical period in the lives of both men. Sam Clemens has gone bankrupt and goes on a round-the-world lecture tour to restore his finances. His daughter Susy dies, and then his wife Livy; his daughter Jean has epileptic seizures. An initial proponent of war with Spain, he becomes radicalized by the horrific way freedom fighters in the Philippines are treated after the US wins "possession" of the islands.

John Hay, one of Lincoln’s secretaries during the Civil War, later served McKinley as ambassador to the UK and then Secretary of State. When McKinley is assassinated at the beginning of his second term, Hay stays on at State under Theodore Roosevelt. (TR, an ambitious, blustering, and shallow imperialist warmonger, doesn’t come off well in this book.) Hay oversees the resolution of a Canadian border controversy and the acquisition of territory from Colombia - territory that became the future state of Panama - to build a canal across the isthmus. (The US sent gunboats to discourage Colombia from trying to suppress the rebellion in Panama.)

Zwonitzer has a great eye for detail, and his narrative is vivid and entertaining. And Joe Barrett gives a fantastic performance. It should be an entertaining read for fans of Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, John Hay, and anyone interested in this less-well-known (by me) period of American history.