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Splendifermoose

  • 10
  • reviews
  • 13
  • helpful votes
  • 14
  • ratings
  • The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Rise of Nations

  • By: Andrew C. Fix, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Andrew C. Fix
  • Length: 24 hrs and 17 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 417
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 376
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 369

Between 1348 and 1715, western Europe was fraught with turmoil, beset by the Black Plague, numerous and bitter religious wars, and frequent political revolutions and upheavals. Yet the Europe that emerged from this was vastly different from the Europe that entered it. By the start of the 18th century, Europe had been revitalized and reborn in a radical break with the past that would have untold ramifications for human civilization.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent! (...but the ending could be improved)

  • By FN2187 on 09-12-13

Unbalanced expertise

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

Reviewed: 12-01-15

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I'm at least somewhat familiar with most areas of history that this course covers, and unfortunately didn't learn much of anything new listening to Prof. Fix except for a few bits here and there related to the Reformation. Overall not worth the many hours of listening. There were a few points that were just factually incorrect and some odd pronunciation.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Prof Fix's area of expertise lies with the Netherlands and its religious history, and you can hear him perk up and really sink his teeth into it in those sections. Everything else is rather bland and just a surface level summary of events for the most part without any real analysis or explanation. If you're looking to learn about the Renaissance, the scientific revolution, the rise of Absolutism, or the English Civil War, there are better lecture courses and books out there. I did enjoy his lectures focused on the Reformation in the German states and the Low Countries, but overall his ability to lecture on all the areas covered by the title of this course was lacking.

Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Andrew C. Fix’s performances?

Only if the course was limited to his area of expertise.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Caravaggio

  • A Life Sacred and Profane
  • By: Andrew Graham-Dixon
  • Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
  • Length: 18 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 206
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 184
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 184

In the tradition of John Richardson's Picasso, a commanding new biography of the Italian master's tumultuous life and mysterious death. For four hundred years Caravaggio's (1571-1610) staggering artistic achievements have thrilled viewers, yet his volatile personal trajectory - the murder of Ranuccio Tomasini, the doubt surrounding Caravaggio's sexuality, the chain of events that began with his imprisonment on Malta and ended with his premature death - has long confounded historians.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Listen to this with his art work in front of you

  • By Splendifermoose on 10-19-15

Listen to this with his art work in front of you

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

Reviewed: 10-19-15

Would you listen to Caravaggio again? Why?

Yes I've listen to this twice, and find myself inspired to visit an art museum both times. It's a great look at Caravaggio's life, the times he lived in, and an overall approach to looking at art pieces for both their form and function.

The writing was a little florid and hyperbolic, but reflected the nature of baroque art and the rollercoaster of Caravaggio's life. If anyone's read anything else or seen documentaries about Caravaggio, it seems almost impossible to talk about him without getting overdramatic.

Any additional comments?

I found it helpful to look up the pieces on Google as they came up in the book, or at least to look through galleries of his work afterward.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Vampire: A Casebook

  • By: Alan Dundes
  • Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
  • Length: 6 hrs and 8 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

Finally, the truth about vampires.Vampires are the most fearsome and fascinating of all creatures of folklore. For the first time, detailed accounts of the vampire and how its tradition developed in different cultures are gathered in one volume by eminent folklorist Alan Dundes.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great content, monotone narrator

  • By Splendifermoose on 10-19-15

Great content, monotone narrator

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

Reviewed: 10-19-15

Was The Vampire: A Casebook worth the listening time?

The content is utterly fascinating, and this is coming from someone who doesn't have much interest in vampires and horror in general. Unfortunately, the narration is monotone and makes it difficult to focus, so I actually listened to it twice because I'm sure I missed something the first time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn

  • A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen
  • By: Susan Bordo
  • Narrated by: Barbara Rosenblat
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 363
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 334
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 332

Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anne’s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: Neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anne’s death more than her life.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The title says it all

  • By Red Emma on 04-15-14

A biography of the *image* of Anne Boleyn

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

Reviewed: 10-19-15

Would you listen to The Creation of Anne Boleyn again? Why?

Overall a very enjoyable listen with a narrator with a warm voice that's well-suited to the subject matter, and writing that's fresh, interesting, and amusing.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

This is less a biography of Anne Boleyn, and more a history of how her popular image has changed throughout history as a reflection of each era's social values. There's just enough reliable information available about the historical Anne to make her a captivating figure, and enough not known for any book, show, movie, or historical period to embellish her story with its own details and judgements about how a woman should behave.

  • The Modern Scholar: The Modern Novel

  • By: Professor Katherine Elkins
  • Narrated by: Professor Katherine Elkins
  • Length: 4 hrs and 30 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13

A recipient of the Whiting Foundation Teaching Fellowship, Katherine Elkins is also the co-director of the Integrated Program in the Humane Studies at Kenyon College. In this lecture series, Elkins examines the development of the modern novel by investigating four great modernist authors: James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, and Virginia Woolf. The lectures explore the authors’ most respected works and illustrate how each author’s unique style and vision made a major contribution to the look and shape of the novel today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Too short, I need more!

  • By Splendifermoose on 10-19-15

Too short, I need more!

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

Reviewed: 10-19-15

Any additional comments?

This lecture series covers the proper/academic definition of the "modern novel," that is, novels written as part of the Modernist movement in the earlier part of the 20th century. Don't be a dummy like me, not read the production description, assume the colloquial term for modern, and think the series was going to cover novels all through the 20th century well past the period actually addressed.

That being said, Prof. Elkins offers a wonderful little series of lectures about some books that definitely deserve a second (or first) reading if you haven't tackled these novels since school that provides great insight into the writing, and social and historical context behind the books.

I would definitely listen to a lecture series from Prof. Elkins that's a traditional length for the Great Courses (15-20 hours) and would recommend this series to anyone interested in 20th century literature. A very enjoyable listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Courtiers

  • Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace
  • By: Lucy Worsley
  • Narrated by: Heather Wilds
  • Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 128
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 113

Kensington Palace is now most famous as the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, but the palace's glory days came between 1714 and 1760, during the reigns of George I and II. In the 18th century, this palace was a world of skullduggery, intrigue, politicking, etiquette, wigs, and beauty spots, where fans whistled open like switchblades and unusual people were kept as curiosities. Lucy Worsley's The Courtiers charts the trajectory of the fantastically quarrelsome Hanovers and the last great gasp of British court life.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good Social Overview

  • By Teadrinker on 08-05-14

Vivid portrait with fascinating cast of characters

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

Reviewed: 10-19-15

What did you like best about this story?

This book certainly captures the good, the bad, and the ugly of court life under the early Georgian kings. Lucy Worsley has an infectious enthusiasm for the personal details of history (obvious if you've seen any of her BBC presentations) and is able to synthesize historical documents into several well-rounded and surprisingly sympathetic portraits of the aristocrats and royals of the period.

  • Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon

  • By: Suzanne M. Desan, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Suzanne M. Desan
  • Length: 24 hrs and 46 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,106
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,007
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 998

The 25 years between the onset of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Bourbon Restoration after Napoleon in 1814 is an astonishing period in world history. This era shook the foundations of the old world and marked a permanent shift for politics, religion, and society - not just for France, but for all of Europe. An account of the events alone reads like something out of a thrilling novel.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mostly French Revolution

  • By Martin Lefebvre on 08-12-13

Great lecture series!

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

Reviewed: 10-19-15

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If anyone is interested in The Great Courses, nonfiction, history, or the French Revolution, I'd definitely recommend this lecture series. Prof. Desan's presentation is clear, organized, energetic, and well-delivered -- one of the best Great Courses/Modern Scholar/Teaching Company history series I've encountered.

I found the content on Haiti especially interesting as the question of European revolutionary ideals and how it applies to their colonial practices is definitely an important question that most readings on the French Revolution don't even try to tackle.

Have you listened to any of Professor Suzanne M. Desan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

If Prof. Desan had any other lecture series available and Audible carried them, I'd definitely give it a go. There are a few lecturers with several titles, but unfortunately Prof. Desan is not one of them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

  • By: Tony Judt
  • Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
  • Length: 43 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 900
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 737
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 729

Almost a decade in the making, this much-anticipated grand history of postwar Europe from one of the world’s most esteemed historians and intellectuals is a singular achievement. Postwar is the first modern history that covers all of Europe, both east and west, drawing on research in six languages to sweep readers through 34 nations and 60 years of political and cultural change—all in one integrated, enthralling narrative.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great book, but not terrific listening

  • By History on 10-18-11

A better book than audiobook

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

Reviewed: 10-19-15

What aspect of Ralph Cosham’s performance would you have changed?

The narrator has a pleasant voice, but was quite monotone, which made it difficult to pay attention. Despite my interest in the subject matter, a found myself occasionally zoning out and the narration becoming background noise.

Any additional comments?

Overall a well-written book that handles the millions of details with great efficiency. You never get the sense that the author is skipping over or brushing past one area over another. There's a good balance of the larger political issues and the experiences of everyday people.

Unfortunately, the narration doesn't do the writing justice. It turns a dense text into a laundry list.

  • How the French Invented Love

  • Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance
  • By: Marilyn Yalom
  • Narrated by: Christine Williams
  • Length: 10 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 22

Spanning the Middle Ages to the present, How the French Invented Love explores a love-obsessed culture through its great works of literature, interlacing the author’s charming personal anecdotes. This fascinating history will particularly delight fans of Alain de Botton, Adam Gopnik, and Simon Schama. The author examines almost a thousand years of divine culture in search of the intimate moments that reveal how the particularly French concept of l’amour has endured and evolved.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • interesting, and a turn on

  • By Advika on 03-05-13

interesting literary tour of French Romance

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

Reviewed: 10-19-15

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

I enjoyed how clearly passionate the author is about French literature and French culture, and may need to revisit some of the works she writes about that I read years ago for school without much interest to get a better appreciation for them. I think that's the sign of critical writing and nonfiction, when it makes you want to delve deeper into the subject matter.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Overall the narrator had a voice that was well suited to the subject, and I enjoyed listening to her.

There was something weird going on with the sound editing, like they did a second round of recording under completely different conditions and individual words and phrases were edited into the main track later so you'll occasionally get a lull and then a short phrase that sounds completely different. It was distracting and very noticeable whenever it occurred, but the narrator is strong overall and it didn't happen so often that I couldn't focus on the content.

Any additional comments?

This is definitely a more literary look at French romance than historical, anthropological, or sociological. Even the section focused more on published personal letters and biographical experience treat the first hand accounts like works of literature instead of historical documents. The author's field of expertise is literature, so there are some times when the historical context or broader analysis would not hold up to more serious academic scrutiny-- her reliance on outdated Freudian psychology in one section, and heavy 20th century bias on sexual identity and homosexuality in another, come to mind as a couple big examples.

It was easier to follow what was happening when listening to the sections in which I had some previous contextual knowledge from other books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Marie Therese, Child of Terror

  • The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter
  • By: Susan Nagel
  • Narrated by: Rosalyn Landor
  • Length: 18 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 145
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115

Nagel tells a remarkable story of an astonishing woman, from her birth, to her upbringing by doting parents, through to Revolution, imprisonment, exile, Restoration, and, finally, her reincarnation as saint and matriarch.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Essential reading for students of Bourbon history

  • By Zaubermond on 03-07-13

Just okay

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

Reviewed: 06-04-15

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

As an enthusiastic reader of history, a biography of Marie Therese is an engaging idea-- to find out what happened to the last child of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette during such a tumultuous time in European history? It would be difficult to make such a story uninteresting. Unfortunately, this audiobook struggles with both her historical irrelevancy and lack of personal voice. Upon fleeing France, Marie Therese's life becomes a plodding series of background roles in the shadow of marginally significant male relations.

There are some potentially interesting tidbits of information that other narratives of this era don't cover, mainly details of the royalist and emigre groups scattered across Europe, which are glossed over in favor of listless summaries of Marie Therese's dry marital negotiations.

There is also a rather tedious ongoing recounting of the "Black Countess," some unnamed woman rumored to be the actual Marie Therese who occasionally pops up in the narrative, but whose presence in the book goes nowhere.

I actually listened to this audiobook twice, because I could not remember much after the first listen, and I desperately wanted this story to be engrossing. Ultimately it wasn't. As a historical work, it's difficult to maintain interest in a figure with no agency who is also on the wrong side of history, for whom the most anyone seemed to be able to say about her was that she carried herself well in public . As a biography, it might has been saved by any insight into her responses to the trauma and uncertainty of her life, because surely she had an incredibly rich inner experience, but apparently her letters are not available so the book is primarily a summary of fawning second hand accounts.

There is only a disappointing glimmer of the book that might have been, not all of which is the fault of the author, but also the challenges of available material.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful