Harold W. Wood Jr.

Kaweah Watershed, California
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  • 15
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  • 17
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  • Elephant Company

  • The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II
  • By: Vicki Constantine Croke
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,694
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,554
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,555

At the onset of World War II, Williams formed Elephant Company and was instrumental in defeating the Japanese in Burma and saving refugees, including on his own "Hannibal Trek." Billy Williams became a media sensation during the war, telling reporters that the elephants did more for him than he was ever able to do for them, but his story has since been forgotten.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Story of Friendship, Loyalty, and Bravery

  • By Patrick on 04-15-15

Book content was good, narration was muffled

4 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-11-17

Perhaps a bit too much detail made this true life adventure story a bit ponderous, but for those who love elephants and history it is a fascinating look at life in another world from ours. The audio sound seemed a little muffled to me, it needed better sound quality. The narrator was good, though very straight forward, but the quality of the recording sounded like it was recorded on an old fashioned tape player instead of today's higher-quality devices.

  • A Passion for Nature

  • The Life of John Muir
  • By: Donald Worster
  • Narrated by: Jim Frangione
  • Length: 19 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 252
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 223
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 222

"I am hopelessly and forever a mountaineer," John Muir wrote. "Civilization and fever and all the morbidness that has been hooted at me has not dimmed my glacial eye, and I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature's loveliness. My own special self is nothing". In Donald Worster's magisterial biography, John Muir's "special self" is fully explored as is his extraordinary ability, then and now, to get others to see the sacred beauty of the natural world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A good biography for historical perspective

  • By Harold W. Wood Jr. on 05-15-14

A good biography for historical perspective

4 out of 5 stars
1 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-15-14

Where does A Passion for Nature rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The narration of this book somewhat matches the kind of book this is - - it is not literature, nor a paean to greatness, nor an adventure story, as previous Muir biographies have been. Rather, this book goes into depth about Muir's life and puts it into historical perspective, in a fairly academic way. Unfortunately, the performance of this narrator was not nearly as good as most of the audiobook I have come to expect on

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Passion for Nature?

Muir's entire life was memorable, from his adventures in the mountains and on glaciers, and in his conservation battles.

What didn’t you like about Jim Frangione’s performance?

This is one of the worst - read narrations I have heard in an audio book. The performer spoke in a fairly academic monotone which I suppose in some ways matches the kind of book this is, but several times he mis-pronounced some fairly common scientific terms, like the word "lichen." Jim Franigione may be a professional narrator, but seems to be the kind that reads labels rather than literature.

Although Muir himself clearly had a "passion for nature" which is gloriously expressed in Muir's writings, and included in many of the quotes used here, you would never know it from this narration. For one thing, the narrator read the quotes in the same tone of voice he read the main text. It was thus often very hard to tell what was a quotation and what was Donald Worster's main text. The narrator didn't even seem to try to make the quotes stand out from the rest of the text. I have come to expect far better in most audiobooks.

The publisher should have selected a narrator who is used to reading fiction - many audible audio books have performers that have different "voices" for every different character, and many have a talent for different accents as well. This book cried out for someone who could read Muir with a Scottish accent, and put a little "passion" into Muir's passionate writing, while then returning to a normal narrative for the rest of the text. Unfortunately, that is not the case here. I can't say it ruined the book, because the book itself was good writing - for a historical biography, but it did diminish it.

Any additional comments?

The important thing to remember is that this is a historical perspective of John Muir's life, written by a noted academic. As such, it is not quite as "readable" as some of the earlier biographies of Muir's life, which read much more like an adventure story, as in the case of the Pulitzer prize winning biography by Linnie Marsh Wolfe, which extols Muir's greatness. But if you want to understand better how Muir's life fit in with other things that were happening during his life, in a highly objective manner, this is the best biography for that. The author is a historian, not a novelist or an environmentalist or a story-teller. So his objectivity seems to make this biography a bit more dry than other Muir biographies where the authors quickly get caught up in the excitement of Muir's life. But earlier biographies have their own problems, such as inaccuracies and failing to contain more recent information. This biography is in many ways more thorough and more accurate than prior Muir biographies.

In addition, as well as putting the life of John Muir in context, the author puts quite a bit of his own interpretations into the narrative. This is of interest to those who know something about Muir, whether you agree with him or not, because it can at least provoke discussion. If you don't know much about Muir, then perhaps a more straightforward biography is better for you.

As a history book, it is a good book, for audiences with a more scholarly bent. If you are looking for something more exciting to read about Muir's life, there are several earlier biographies that do that, but may not cover Muir's life as thoroughly.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Holy Cow!

  • An Indian Adventure
  • By: Sarah Macdonald
  • Narrated by: Kate Hosking
  • Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 812
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 350
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 353

After backpacking her way around India, Sarah Macdonald decides she hates the country with a passion. When a beggar at the airport reads her palm and insists she will one day return, and for love, she screams "Never!" and gives the country, and him, the finger.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Inspiring and witty

  • By Meredith on 08-09-05

A remarkable spiritual travelogue

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-20-06

This is a remarkable spiritual travelogue. Very very funny in places, yet the author's broad-minded inquisitiveness of all the diverse religious and cultural traditions of India are very meaningful.
The book is not merely arm-chair travel, it gives a lot to think about including political and religious disputes in our world. High recommended!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful