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The Sun King audiobook cover art

Versailles and Louis XIV as you never suspected

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-18-05

What an entertaining audiobook. Although I am a big fan of Mr. Griffin's, the sheer delight of listening as the 17th century comes to life is an overwhelming pleasure in and of itself, and this was due in no small measure to the expert writing of Nancy Mitford. The research she did to come up with so many penetrating insights and fascinating details is beyond my comprehension. She must have had a roomful of notecards before she even began writing. Her knowledge of court life in this period is very impressive. For those of you who are already familiar with Griffin's narrative style, there is nothing I can add. He is terrific. And the wonderfully sophisticated voice of Ellen Ezekiel introduces each chapter with a French quotation. This is a class act all the way!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

One of the best in the series

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-19-05

One of the best novels in the series. If you're new to Wodehouse, you might want to try his Bertie and Jeeves short stories first. But this longer story is just priceless. Good narrator.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

Whiney and sniveling

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-19-05

Kahn's father was a communist, no question about it. The Venona Papers have long since debunked the myth that these people were innocent liberals who just happened to be more enlightened than the rest of us. We are living today with much of the detritus of their miserable politics installed at our leading institutions. Nothing new here, except the pathological attempts by Kahn Jr. to revivify these villains.

5 of 17 people found this review helpful

Ellis is a known liar

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-21-05

Just to refresh everyone's memory, it was Ellis, the left winger, who was unmasked as a fraud. He had claimed to be a Vietnam veteran while railing against the war to packed classrooms. He had to eat crow and kept his head down for awhile. But he's back and slinging mud at this country's foundations once more. First it was Jefferson, now it's Washington. He's an average writer and for this I will give him his due. But this is lightweight politically correct history for all you libs. Enjoy. For the rest of us, there is always Douglas Southall Freeman's magnificent biography of Washington. The narration included some strange sounds in the background at times.

42 of 83 people found this review helpful

A very good short biography

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-08-04

I was attracted to this biography because I like the narrator and because this was a short work, not because I like Napoleon. Napoleon is important in our history, however, and it seemed imperative to me that I should know a little more about him than what I learned in college history. But this is NOT a comprehensive history that hangs on every last event in Napoleon's life. It is a very broad overview of his career and the times in which he lived. The nittty gritty details of battles and strategy are not here. Which was okay with me. I discovered that the book was written around 1900 and that it is highly regarded among historians. That said, you have to pay attention. This is NOT one of those recordings to while away a dreary afternoon with. As a means of getting a really good grasp of the meaning of Napoleon and his impact on European and world history, it is great. If you're looking for military history and strategy, you'll probably want something in depth. The book has a style that may render it unpalatable to some people, so you'd better listen carefully to the sample before you bite. For my money it was worth it.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

A Stunning Achievement

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-17-04

The middle ages is one of those cloudy subjects that most people, including me, usually steer clear of. It doesn't seem to have the dash and intellectual allure of the classical periods that preceeded it. Bu that was merely my perception. This long and detailed history of the 1,000 years of history spanning the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Renaissance was honestly one of the most entertaining pieces I have ever listened to. Call me ignorant, but I just did not know how interesting this period actually was. I note with amusement that some listeners objected to the chapter on Christianity, though for the life of me I don't understand their objections. I was brought up a Christian but have not practised any religion in several decades. However, I found the explanation of how Christianity developed to be incredibly fascinating. It's hard to really understand the passions and disputes that occurred in the middle ages without some compass of what made those people tick. I also found the chapters on Islam and Byzantium extremely informative, as well as the chapters that covered the establishment of nationlist monarchies and the achievements of the late Gothic period. All in all, I was hugely impressed by this great work and would recommend it to all but the few zany anti-religious types who probably would never get past the first chapter anyway. There is also wonderful medieval music here and the narrator, Charlton Griffin, is truly superb.

69 of 73 people found this review helpful

Beautifully written and narrated

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-05-04

This is one of those classics that, sooner or later, all educated people manage to get around to. I had attempted reading it in my youth, but never finished it. I was pleased to find an abridged version that would not strain my attention span. This is a very well narrated version by two British readers who are skillful in the craft. It is elegantly done, and the voices match the baroque style of Gibbons' flowery style. If ancient Rome is a subject that interests you, you must hear this. However, this history does NOT include the origins and history of republican Rome. In fact, the vast bulk of the subject matter is the corruption and fall of the Roman Empire, starting approximately with the events of the first half of the 2nd century A.D. and proceeding from there. I recommend this work without hesitation to lovers of ancient history.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

Gossipy and a bit dull

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-30-04

Overall, I liked the book. It has a lot of interesting anecdotal material, which I greatly enjoyed knowing. But the way the book is arranged is distracting and it jumps around between historical fact and quaint anecdote in a way that makes it seem trite in places. You have to pay attention to really get anything of depth from it. But if you persist, you'll probably like the book. The narrator has a style that sort of reminds you of a political commentator on TV. But he doesn't aggravate and his voice is clear.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Atlas Shrugged , Volume 1 audiobook cover art

A bit disappointing so far

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-22-04

My problem with Ayn Rand has never been with her ideas, it's her dreadful writing style. It places a burden on the reader, too. Her sentence structure is awkward. And I really have a problem with the way she develops characters because they just seem so darned dull. A lot of people love this stuff, so what can I say?

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

Great literature, great narrator

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-05-04

I downloaded this on the strength of a previous Audio Connoisseur production. I'm glad I did. The power of this story is truly mesmerizing, as is the narration. If you like good literature, this is a must. I am not familiar with this author, but I'll definitely be looking for other material by him from now on. The story has a faintly romantic air to it, though it is certainly far from a romance. The philosophical discussion betwen Jessiersky and the two priests at the end of the book is truly extraordinary. If you're looking for something a cut above the superficial mysteries and crime books that abound these days, check this out. Magnificent writing and outstanding production values.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful