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  • The First Tycoon

  • The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • By: T.J. Stiles
  • Narrated by: Mark Deakins
  • Length: 28 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 846
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 687
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 683

In The First Tycoon, Stiles offers the first complete, authoritative biography of this titan, and the first comprehensive account of the Commodore's personal life. It is a sweeping, fast-moving epic, and a complex portrait of the great man. Vanderbilt, Stiles shows, embraced the philosophy of the Jacksonian Democrats and withstood attacks by his conservative enemies for being too competitive. He was a visionary who pioneered business models.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great! If you can get through it...

  • By john on 08-08-10

A Fascinating Life and History of early America

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

Fascinating look at Cornelius Vanderbilt and his long, successful life. To start from an industrious young man working for his father's boat to become a "Commodore" of the steam boat industry, and then a railroad tycoon was amazing. Much of the book talks of his time from the late 1700s to the 1870s. A man of amazing energy, stamina and discipline. The book covers the changes caused by changes by steamboats and rail by moving communication, people and products. It also shows the changes in New York during this time, and Vanderbilt's role during the Civil War.

While interesting, I felt it could have been shorter. It was not as riveting as book "Lindbergh", "Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.", "The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright", "The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin" or many similar books that portray a person and their times. I became impatient towards the end. Another reviewer I read commented that he appreciated the epilogue because it helped make sense of the rest of the book. Sad but true.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Les Misérables: Translated by Julie Rose

  • By: Victor Hugo, Julie Rose (translator)
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 60 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,468
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,230
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,237

One of the great classics of world literature and the inspiration for the most beloved stage musical of all time, Les Misérables is legendary author Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. This extraordinary English version by renowned translator Julie Rose captures all the majesty and brilliance of Hugo’s work. Here is the timeless story of the quintessential hunted man—Jean Valjean—and the injustices, violence, and social inequalities that torment him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Book that Made Me a Better Person

  • By Coalition Deadboys Podcast on 03-29-13

So Much More than the Operetta

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

The book is very complicated - about 1/4 of the book are "digressions" where Hugo discusses topics as diverse as Waterloo, the Paris sewer system, slang, the penal system, politics, cloisters, Paris rich, Paris poor and more. While these passages are hard to wade through - they prepare the reader for later passages, and add a little suspense as we want to get back to the story of Jean Valjean and others.

Nothing is absolute with Hugo, he examines both sides of issues - he may rail on Catholic cloisters, but Valjean's road to salvation starts with an act of kindness by a priest, and later he and Cosette are living in a convent.

Overall, the book is about what is good/evil and the possibility of redemption but how society's conventions may get in the way. While reading the book, I was struck to the similarity in construction to "War and Peace" (a fabulous story with many digressions). This makes sense since Tolstoy and Hugo were contemporaries and "Les Misérables" was published 7 years before Tolstoy's masterpiece.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Winds of War

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
  • Length: 45 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,143
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,439
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,439

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 45 hours + 56 hours = 102 hours of listening

  • By Jan on 10-25-13

History Brought to Life

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

I really enjoyed this book - it follows Captain Victor (Pug) Henry as he becomes the naval attache in Berlin up through the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Through Pug's assignments he has access to leaders in USA, Berlin, England and Russia. The experience of Pug, his wife, three children, and friends show many different aspects of WWII including the Nazi invasion of Poland, the blitz of London, Roosevelt/Churchill meeting and more. I enjoyed this so much that I immediately got the second volume.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

  • An Indian History of the American West
  • By: Dee Brown
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 14 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,584
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,342
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,344

Dee Brown's eloquent, meticulously documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the 19th century uses council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions. Brown allows great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Easy to Listen To, Difficult to Hear About

  • By J.B. on 04-12-16

A Book that Changed Hearts and Minds

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

A look at the treatment of Native American's from their view of the history of the U.S. Widely acclaimed when it was published in 1970, the book brought to light a viewpoint generally not covered in American History.

I knew some of it, from places I've been and other books I've read, but Brown's book helped connect some other dots for me - especially events in Colorado/Arizona/New Mexico/Kansas where I know the name of the person or place, but not what occurred, and what lead up to some of the major events. It definitely makes me want to learn more.

A great follow-up book is "Empire of the Summer Moon".

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Woman in White

  • By: Wilkie Collins
  • Narrated by: Josephine Bailey, Simon Prebble
  • Length: 25 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,099
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,787
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,801

One of the greatest mystery thrillers ever written, Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White was a phenomenal best seller in the 1860s, achieving even greater success than works by Charles Dickens. Full of surprise, intrigue, and suspense, this vastly entertaining novel continues to enthrall audiences today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping novel, excellent production

  • By David on 01-18-11

Fun Performance of an Early Gothic Novel

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

A great Victorian/Gothic novels most people never hear about. If you like the Bronte sisters and Middlemarch, you'll enjoy this.

Early on we are introduced to the mysterious woman in white when Walter Hartright is travelling to Limmeridge house to be a drawing tutor for two young ladies, Laura Fairlie and her half-sister Marian Halcombe. They rest of the book tells the the story of Walter, Laura and Marian.

Wonderful evil characters - Sir Percival Glyde and Count Fosco. Excellent fun, and the narration of Simon Prebble and Josephine Bailey was superb.

Interesting note - Wilkie Collins was a friend of Charles Dickens.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Empire of the Summer Moon audiobook cover art
  • Empire of the Summer Moon

  • By: S. C. Gwynne
  • Narrated by: David Drummond
  • Length: 15 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,152
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,665
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,681

Few people realize that the Comanche Indians were the greatest warring tribe in American history. Their 40-year battle with settlers held up the development of the new nation. Empire of the Summer Moon tells of the rise and fall of this fierce, powerful, and proud tribe, and begins in 1836 with the kidnapping of a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower blue eyes named Cynthia Ann Parker.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • When a great book and a great reader come together

  • By Richard on 01-01-11

Commanches and the American West

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

I had no idea how little I knew about the Commanches other than they were fierce warriors and feared by settlers. This book talks about the traditions, the history of the Cheyenne, other plains Indians and the Indian Wars that eventually moved many tribes to reservations.

I liked how Gwynne pushes people to not view traditions through our modern eyes, but also consider the violent natures of our ancestors (Celts, the inquisition). He has a balanced approach - the war attrocities of the Cheyenne and also the combating Texas Rangers and U.S. Cavalry. Gwynne also discusses the impact of changes in technology - like the Colt revolver.

The end of the book covers the role of Quanah Parker - son Cynthia Anne Parker who was kidnapped in a raid when she was young. When "rescued" later in life, she continuously tried to escape back to the Cheyenne. Parker and his mother are studies in adaptation. He learned the game, and played it well to the benefit of himself and his peoples. What I don't like is that because of the focus on Quanah, it brushes on this not being the case for the majority of Indians who changed their lives from nomadic hunters to farmers. But - that is a lot to ask of a very interesting book.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Crossing to Safety

  • By: Wallace Stegner
  • Narrated by: Richard Poe
  • Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 814
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 692
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 698

One of the finest American authors of the 20th century, Wallace Stegner compiled an impressive collection of accolades during his lifetime, including a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a National Book Award, and three O. Henry Awards. His final novel, Crossing to Safety is the quiet yet stirring tale of two couples that meet during the Great Depression and form a lifelong bond.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing Stegner and his beautiful last book

  • By Rebecca on 11-16-13

Amazing Stegner and his beautiful last book

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

I adore Stegner. He develops characters and stories with depth better than anybody. This book is about two couples, Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Lang. They meet as young couples in a college in Wisconsin, and the book follows their lives and relationships.

It is by twists and turns heart-warming and tragic. He shows the two sides of character that can be giving and demanding - so much like life. In this book, he digs into how life is complex, we get in our own way, but some people gloriously overcome illnesses or setbacks what would destroy others.

This was his last book, and makes me want to read much more that he has written.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

  • By: Joseph Conrad
  • Narrated by: Kenneth Branagh
  • Length: 3 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,499
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,018
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,021

A Signature Performance: Kenneth Branagh plays this like a campfire ghost story, told by a haunted, slightly insane Marlow.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Conrad's Brilliant & Wild Novella

  • By Darwin8u on 11-21-12

Branagh is brilliant

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

"Apocalypse Now" was based on this. Yes, that movie put it into a more modern view with Vietnam instead of the Congo, but after reading the V.S. Naipaul's book, "A Bend in the River" plus the Kingsolver book, "Poisonwood Diary", I think the Congo is more horrifying. The confusion, the darkness, "the Horror".

Marlowe's telling of this tale makes it an amazing ghost story. The listener characters melt away as Marlowe tells the horrific story of madness that he seems to still be dealing with. The end, when Marlowe is faced with the profound grief of Kurtz' intended and lies to her about his last word is moving. Was Marlowe true to the memory of Kurtz? I believe so.

Branaugh's narration was just as brilliant as I had expected.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Caine Mutiny

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
  • Length: 26 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,761
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,507
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,505

Having inspired a classic film and Broadway play, The Caine Mutiny is Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life—and mutiny—on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater. It was immediately embraced upon its original publication as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of the Second World War. In the intervening half century, this gripping story has become a perennial favorite, selling millions throughout the world, and claiming the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Even Better than the Movie

  • By James on 06-20-12

Leadership at sea

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

My 3rd Wouk. I really enjoyed this - especially reading with an eye on leadership and how Willy's views of Queeg as he matured. It makes me want to see the movie again, but as I recall, the movie focuses more on the ship - Queeg and the mutiny, and not about Willy Keith as a young Princeton graduate as he matures through the book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • War and Remembrance

  • By: Herman Wouk
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
  • Length: 56 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,450
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,980
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,963

Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues here in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events - and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II - as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What can I say that hasn't already been said??

  • By aaron on 01-31-12

"Bring the past to vivid life"

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

Reviewed: 11-16-13

Incredible. Built around historical events and figures, the Henry family witnesses military events in Europe, the Pacific, Russia, Los Alamos. Especially moving is the experience of Natalie Jasper and her uncle Aaron, American Jews in Italy stuck after Pearl Harbor. As the author writes in the historical notes, his purpose was to "...bring the past to vivid life." Mission accomplished. Well done Mr. Wouk.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful