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Paula

Milwaukee, WI, USA
  • 16
  • reviews
  • 190
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  • 97
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  • Nixonland

  • The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
  • By: Rick Perlstein
  • Narrated by: Stephen R. Thorne
  • Length: 36 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 827
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 586
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 591

From one of America's most talented historians and winner of a LA Times Book Prize comes a brilliant new account of Richard Nixon that reveals the riveting backstory to the red state/blue state resentments that divide our nation today. Told with urgency and sharp political insight, Nixonland recaptures America's turbulent 1960s and early 1970s and reveals how Richard Nixon rose from the political grave to seize and hold the presidency.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A 5-Star Book Injured by the Narrator

  • By Frank on 08-12-09

Wholeheartedly agreeing with Jerrold

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-23-09

I am really enjoying listening to this selection. It's a lively history of the turbulent years of the late fifties through the early seventies, with an emphasis on understanding how the Nixon presidency played on and widened the polarizations that are still gripping this country: gaps in education, race, social standing. How Nixon's own jealousies and resentments helped him play on the resentments of the people whom he named "The Silent Majority".
The book is interesting, well written, never dry, and it's obvious the writer is completely engaged and passionate about his subject.
OK, that's the book. It's great.
I agree with Jerrold that the publisher of this audiobook should be ashamed of the shoddy job this reader did. Not only does he mispronounce many words, but more embarrassingly, names like Dean AY-chison, Sander VAN-oker, and more. Come one, these are people in history. How could an editor let this go by? It's tough not to find it a little distracting.
Nonethless, I can almost wholeheartedly recommend this listen. The quality of the book is good enough to ignore the idiocy of the reader.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • The Glory and the Dream

  • A Narrative History of America, 1932 - 1972
  • By: William Manchester
  • Narrated by: Jeff Riggenbach
  • Length: 57 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 315
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 227
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 228

This great time capsule of a book captures the abundant popular history of the United States from 1932 to 1972. It encompasses politics, military history, economics, the lively arts, science, fashion, fads, social change, sexual mores, communications, graffiti...everything and anything indigenous that can be captured in print.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Fabulous book, good narration, bad recording

  • By Paula on 07-10-08

Fabulous book, good narration, bad recording

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-10-08

This is a huge, sprawling, masterpiece of a book which chronicles the history of the US from the depression era through the early 70's. The writing is tremendous, very human, finely detailed and yet broad in scope. Concentrates much on biographies, but also enables one to understand economics, politics, wartime strategies, and more, through explanations that are very accessible to "lay readers". Extremely engaging, even thrilling.
Frustratingly, the recording is of extremely bad quality, with many- and I mean MANY skips which I presume to be from the source discs. This makes several sections quite hard to understand.
I am trying my best to keep going despite the terribly distracting skips. I don't want to tell you unequivocally to stay away, because it's such a fine work, and the narration is quite good too. But beware of this issue.

39 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • The Rest Is Noise

  • Listening to the 20th Century
  • By: Alex Ross
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 23 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 346
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 185
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 183

The Rest Is Noise takes the listener inside the labyrinth of modern music, from turn-of-the-century Vienna to downtown New York in the '60s and '70s. We meet the maverick personalities and follow the rise of mass culture on this sweeping tour of 20th-century history through its music.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Learned so much!

  • By Paula on 02-18-08

Learned so much!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-18-08

I'm a professional musician and I spent an entire semester as an undergrad studying 20th century music, but there were many times during my listen to "The Rest..." when I went- hey, I didn't know that!
Ross starts us out at the turn of the 20th century in the hotbed that was German late-Romantic music (Strauss, Mahler), and we walk through the remainder of the 20th century, not necessarily in chronological order. Instead, Ross deals with places and chunks of time, putting composers and the way they wrote into the context of social and political history: Weimar Germany, Nazi Germany, 20's Paris, New-deal USA, Soviet Russia, Post- WWII Europe, 60's NYC, and so on. The trick for the listener is to remember that this is world history seen through the lens of music history.
Yeah, you're gonna learn quite a bit about what went on musically. But even if you already knew a lot about that, you're gonna understand what it was like to be a musician, why composers wrote music the way they did at certain times and places, and how people reacted to that music.
I would caution the listener that it's a fairly musically sophisticated book. Ross hastens to assure us that he did not write it as a music history text, but as a guide for the educated concertgoer/ listener, and I think that's true. However, be prepared for some fairly advanced terminology. This is not for the newcomer to the world of "classical" music.
It's taken me almost 2 months to wade through this book. It's long and dense, and I went back over some sections again because I just really wanted to absorb all the information. It's totally worth the work though, for a fine understanding of musical history and just-well- history. Ross also has a website connected with the book which is chock full of exerpted recordings of the pieces he discusses.

Learn! Listen! Enjoy!

50 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • The Conviction of Richard Nixon

  • The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews
  • By: James Reston Jr.
  • Narrated by: Marc Cashman
  • Length: 5 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 16

In The Conviction of Richard Nixon, Reston provides a fascinating, fly-on-the-wall account of his involvement in the Nixon interviews as David Frost's Watergate adviser. Written in 1977 immediately following those celebrated television interviews and published now for the first time, The Conviction of Richard Nixon explains how a British journalist of waning consequence drove the famously wily and formidable Richard Nixon to say, in an apparent personal epiphany, "I have impeached myself."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Riveting!

  • By Paula on 07-10-07

Riveting!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-10-07

Well written and well narrated story of the Frost/ Nixon interviews, now in the public consciousness again with the Broadway show "Frost/ Nixon" and next year's movie version. The story might remind one of "All the President's Men" or other political thrillers. A gripping account of the extensive research and uncovering of new information surrounding the Watergate robbery and coverup in preparation for David Frost's 1977 interviews with Richard Nixon (the author was on the team of researchers who prepped Frost), and how Frost, a "lightweight" in the world of journalism, was subsequently able to confront Nixon and get him to admit wrongdoing and culpability, something even Mike Wallace had failed to do.
A fascinating chapter in recent history. Wholeheartedly recommended!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Jesus for the Non-Religious

  • By: John Shelby Spong
  • Narrated by: John Shelby Spong, Alan Sklar
  • Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 161
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84

Writing from his prison cell in Nazi Germany in 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian, sketched a vision of what he called "Religionless Christianity". In this book, John Shelby Spong puts flesh onto the bare bones of Bonhoeffer's radical thought. The result is a strikingly new and different portrait of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jesus for the non-religious.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Exhilaratng and ultimately frustrating

  • By Paula on 04-27-07

Exhilaratng and ultimately frustrating

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-27-07

I've read quite a bit of Bishop Spong's output over the past ten years or so. Most of his books function in this way: he spends a great deal of time debunking belief in reading the Bible in a literal way, going verse-by-verse and explaining its meaning in the context of a Jewish midrash reading. (metaphorical, not literal, and in many cases, NOT understanding the Hebrew Bible as prophesying the life of Jesus)
OK, I get that, and it IS really interesting.
But my frustration is this... I really don't see how Bishop Spong differs THAT much from, say, Richard Dawkins in his rejection of a personal god and his inability to cleave to "old time religion" in the face of the discoveries of modern science, especially evolutionary science. I get that, and I agree with him. But he keeps saying that, in spite of all this, he still sees Jesus Christ as his ultimate manifestation of the Divine, and is still able to call himself a Christian. I really would like to be able to take that final step with him, but he never explains how he does that. I was hoping that would be the subject of this new book, but he never does get there. It's yet another retread of the old de-bunking, not significantly different from his last book, "A New Christianity for a New World" (Where, incidentally, I also hoped he'd go there and didn't.)
In short, I've about had it with Bishop Spong because he's all about the negative (this is NOT true) and none about what shape that new kind of faith would take. I'm now hoping to find some writers that will help me figure that out.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Absurdistan

  • By: Gary Shteyngart
  • Narrated by: Arte Johnson
  • Length: 11 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 173
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 34

Shteyngart's second novel (The Russian Debutante's Handbook, 2002, was the first) is a wild ride that follows its protagonist and narrator, Misha Vainburg, from St. Petersburg (or St. Leninsburg as he prefers to call it) to a tiny country in the Caucasus called Absurdsvani.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • True Footrest Posse

  • By Alan on 05-01-07

Wow!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-20-07

I can't think of anything else I've ever read to which I can compare "Absurdistan". It has a bit of a superficial kinship with "Confederacy of Dunces"- it treads a little of the same political satire ground as "Catch 22"- but it is a truly original creation. Topically biting, endlessly entertaining, laugh out loud funny, yet it also has sweet moments; like any great fiction, you end up learning things about humanity.
Beautifully performed by Arte Johnson. Another reviewer has faulted his inconsistent dialect and "old man" sound; what he DOES have is the impeccable comic instinct and timing necessary to deliver this comedic masterpiece.
Wholeheartedly recommended!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Tales from The Tummy Trilogy

  • By: Calvin Trillin
  • Narrated by: Calvin Trillin
  • Length: 3 hrs and 1 min
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 64
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24

Calvin Trillin proves that he is one of America's funniest food writers, while recalling his efforts to write a definitive history of the Buffalo chicken wing to his attempts to lure his older daughter back from California by finding an irresistible bagel.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • I agree with Laurie's review!

  • By Paula on 02-20-07

I agree with Laurie's review!

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-20-07

Let me preface this by saying that I LOOOOOOve Calvin Trillin's writing, have done so for the past 25 years. Both his food writing and his novels are always laugh out loud funny. It's impossible to understand why his narration of his own stuff is SO dreadful: monotone, no sense of comic timing or delivery.
How can he write like that and yet read like that???
I'm mystified. But my advice is, read his stuff, it's fabulous,...
but DON'T listen to it!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • American Bloomsbury

  • By: Susan Cheever
  • Narrated by: Kate Reading
  • Length: 6 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 74
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 35

Here is a fascinating biography of those who were, in the mid-19th century, at the center of American thought and literature. It was an eclectic cast of characters. At various times in Concord, Massachusetts, three houses were home to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry and John Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathanial Hawthorne. Among their friends and neighbors were Henry James, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, and others - men and women are at the heart of American idealism.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Decent intro to 1840's Concord

  • By Paula on 02-20-07

Decent intro to 1840's Concord

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-20-07

This is a well-publicized work by a well-known author (daughter of John Cheever); I picked it up after hearing a few interviews with the author on various NPR shows. It coincided with the interest I already had in the Transcendentalists.
I would recommend this title with some BIG caveats. As many have pointed out, there are several quite glaring factual errors in the book. (Please see the Amazon.com reviews for this title if you'd like more details about this)
The overall tone is light, chatty, even dishy and gossippy, and much more time is spent on the love lives and intrigues among the Hawthornes, Emersons, Thoreau brothers, Alcotts, Margaret Fuller, et al, than their lives of thought and literary output that was so profoundly influential to everything that followed in American culture.
OK, that having been said, I do think Cheever gets right a very superficial overview of the Concord group. It's a decent introduction for the absolute beginner. It's also appreciated that she gives equal weight to the women of the circle (which some other even contemporary books on this subject do not).
I hope the listener will use this selection as an intro in that way, then move on to other more scholarly works (Robert Richardson's bios of Emerson and Thoreau, Geldard's books on the spiritual teachings of Emerson) and then the works of the residents of Concord themselves, an amazing cluster of authors and thinkers.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • I Feel Bad About My Neck

  • And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman
  • By: Nora Ephron
  • Narrated by: Nora Ephron
  • Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,320
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 826
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 815

With her disarming, intimate, completely accessible voice, and dry sense of humor, Nora Ephron shares with us her ups and downs in I Feel Bad About My Neck, a candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Don't make me get out of the car...

  • By Kestrel on 10-09-06

Only mildly amusing

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-20-07

This selection was entertaining enough to while away a trans-oceanic plane ride, but only just. We know Nora Ephron's reputation as a screenwriter ("Heartburn", "When Harry Met Sally").
I was expecting more humor. What I got was a lot of New York rich white woman whining on a lot of subjects that many of us are never in a position to consider (rent-controlled luxury apartments with doormen, for instance), leavened with sone (but not enough) wry wittiness.
The big disappointment comes toward the end, when Ephron begins to wax very negative and pessimistic on the subjects of aging and death. Very depressing, without so much as the relief of a smile!
Not awful, but not wonderful either.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Wake Up, Sir!

  • A Novel
  • By: Jonathan Ames
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Ames
  • Length: 12 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 86
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 38
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 36

Alan Blair, the hero of Wake Up, Sir!, is a young, loony writer with numerous problems of the mental, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and physical variety. He's very good at problems. But luckily for Alan, he has a personal valet named Jeeves, who does his best to sort things out for his troubled master. And Alan does find trouble wherever he goes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Definitely for a certain type of person...

  • By Alicia on 07-17-14

Read it, DON'T listen to it!

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-12-06

I think this is probably going to be a very entertaining book to read. It's a spot-on recreation of the style of P. G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves and Wooster" stories, set in modern day.

BUT... why do authors think it's a good idea to do their own audiobooks?? What a dreadful reading this is! Monotone, boring, no vocal characterisations, no inflections at all! Ames could be reading stock quotes, it's so tedious.

So my recommendation is, get a copy of the book, read it, and imagine Jonathan Cecil or Martin Jarvis narrating it. You'll have a much mroe enjoyable experience.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful