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Alex

Athens, GA, USA
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  • The Lost Painting

  • The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece
  • By: Jonathan Harr
  • Narrated by: Campbell Scott
  • Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 419
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 149
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 149

An Italian village on a hilltop near the Adriatic coast, a decaying palazzo facing the sea, and in the basement, cobwebbed and dusty, lit by a single bulb, an archive unknown to scholars. Here, a young graduate student from Rome, Francesca Cappelletti, makes a discovery that inspires a search for a work of art of incalculable value, a painting lost for almost two centuries.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • an incredible and complex story unfolds seamlessly

  • By Jeremiah on 10-31-05

Search and Revelation

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-20-06

This story is small, compelling gem: three modern day characters hovering around the traces of genius from an artist now gone for nearly 400 years.

For some reason, this plot did not confuse me: Harr does an effective job of connecting the reader with each of the three main protagonists, and of explaining to me their separate fascinations with Caravaggio's wild brilliance. I felt the web of social relations surrounding each of the three, and the depth of their shared "Caravaggio madness", as a binding force in the book.

Harr's prose is well-suited to audio format: clear, crisp, very much to the point. He turns his fascination with technical detail into a strength: the detail takes on a life of its own at times, serving as the medium through which the searchers come into contact with the painting: and through it with Caravaggio himself. This is, after all, a story of a transformative search: one that alters the lives of two of the three main characters, and that reveals the life of the fourth.

This is neither an exhaustive assessment of the painting nor a thorough biography of the artist. Instead, it is (in effect) a thoughtful assessment of why we dig into the beauties of the past and on the pleasures and miseries of scholarship, even of obsession.

The reader is perfect: great sound, intonation and pace. Altogether a must-read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Lincoln's Melancholy

  • How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness
  • By: Joshua Wolf Shenk
  • Narrated by: Richard M. Davidson
  • Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 339
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 164
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 165

Drawing on a wealth of his own research and the work of other Lincoln scholars, Shenk reveals how the sixteenth president harnessed his depression to fuel his astonishing success. Lincoln found the solace and tactics he needed to deal with the nation's worst crisis in the "coping strategies" he developed over a lifetime of persevering through depressive episodes and personal tragedies.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Lincoln was depressed - who knew?

  • By Scott on 06-22-08

Great Idea, Good Development

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-18-06

The idea that Lincoln experienced a major mental disorder throughout his life matches my sense of Lincoln as a "man of constant sorrows". The argument that he transformed his mental condition into a source of strength and resilience matches his record of performance. This book provides valuable insights into how this transformation occurred, and into how Lincoln's condition emerged from and was fostered by the culture of his age.

The organization is generally chronological, but with frequent tangents into cultural and psychological theory . . . on occasion, I found it hard to figure out where the author was going, but his tangents are usually well presented. He is also very strong in reviewing how different biographers and historians have viewed Lincoln's personality, and how those views have changed over time.

The reader is good and clear. My only real negative: the producers put disconnected music in at odd points, often not related to major breaks in the discussion, which interferes with an otherwise good listen.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful