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Erl Gould Purnell

Simsbury, CT USA
  • 29
  • reviews
  • 13
  • helpful votes
  • 50
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  • The Final Frontiersman

  • Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness
  • By: James Campbell
  • Narrated by: Dan Woren
  • Length: 12 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 804
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 731
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 728

Hundreds of hardy people have tried to carve a living in the Alaskan bush, but few have succeeded as consistently as Heimo Korth. Originally from Wisconsin, Heimo traveled to the Arctic wilderness in his feverous 20s. Now, more than four decades later, Heimo lives with his wife approximately 200 miles from civilization - a sustainable, nomadic life bounded by the migrating caribou, the dangers of swollen rivers, and the very exigencies of daily existence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Freedom.

  • By C. Kalvin on 07-06-17

Not For The Faint Of Heart

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

Reviewed: 09-17-18

Twenty-eight years living in the Alaska bush is an extraordinary feat. Heimo, Edna and their two girls were up to the task. It's nearly impossible to imagine living at —22° or —35° or —55° but that's what they did for weeks/months at a time...and all in the dark of the far north.

The book is about a way of life. It's also about the character of the individuals in the Korth family. Heimo learns how to live in the wild, to trap, hunt, fish and savage. He also learns how to build and to preserve food, to process his furs and to raise his daughters. Although Edna is a first nation woman, she still needs to learn about living in the woods because St. Lawrence Island, where she's from, has no trees at all. This is beautiful love story that's filled with hard work, laughter, hopes and dreams, successes, failures and tragedy.

The daughters in the book are intrepid. They have their own trap lines and snowshoe out to them carrying a .30-.30 at the age of 10. Their back yard is millions of acres of mountains, tundra, lakes, streams and rivers. Yet, they taste modern culture when the family goes to Fort Yukon or Fairbanks in the summer to sell their pelts and resupply.

My family and I lived on a farm in Maine during the 1970's. We had neither running water nor electricity. We grew much of our food—vegetables, pigs and lamb—and I shot a deer in the fall. But our adventure was nothing like that of the Korth's. If you want to get to know this family intimately while learning a lot about Alaska and the bush, pick it up or listen to it. It's just plain excellent.

  • Born a Crime

  • Stories from a South African Childhood
  • By: Trevor Noah
  • Narrated by: Trevor Noah
  • Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 92,608
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 85,796
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 85,392

One of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars tells his wild coming of age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book and perfect narration

  • By Marilyn Armstrong on 12-15-16

An Extraordinary Start to Life

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

Reviewed: 08-12-18

Most folks associate Trevor Noah with humor on The Daily Show. He is a very funny guy. This book, although it contains some humorous situations, is about being raised as a colored in apartheid South Africa. His mother is black and his father white. He has nothing going for him except a exceptional mother.

The anecdotes twist and turn but generally take the reader from childhood to maturity at around 18 or 19. In between, he is in the school of hard knocks, the school of a powerful mother and the school of trying to figure out what to do next. One thing for sure, Trevor is intrepid and capable. He makes things happen even in his youthful naiveté. As he gets older, his survival skills evolve but he also wanders into serious trouble from time to time.

The book is a great insight into the horrors of apartheid and the years following its demise. Trevor becomes a real and knowable person. He preforms the reading perfectly and so it's easy to rate this audiobook with five stars.

  • Grant

  • By: Ron Chernow
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 48 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4,510
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4,134
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4,111

Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't come close to capturing him, as Chernow sows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Book (BUT WHERE IS THE PDF FILES)????

  • By Amazon Customer on 10-25-17

Grant the Great

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

Reviewed: 06-26-18

Many have said that U.S. Grant has been given a bad rap by history. Ron Chernow has corrected that with his excellent biography of the U.S. President and civil war general. Grant's is an unlikely story from start to finish. Yet, it's his story, one that displays his brilliance along side his poor judgement about people who take advantage. The tragedy of Grant is not alcohol but trusting scoundrels. His kindness and care for and of others is unparalleled. This is an epic book and well worth the 48 hours of listening.

  • Team of Rivals

  • The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
  • By: Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
  • Length: 41 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,930
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,250
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 5,274

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry. Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful, Heartbreaking, and Informative

  • By JJ on 09-10-12

An Epic

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

Reviewed: 04-13-18

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a master at her craft—historical biography. "Lincoln, a Team of Rivals" is extraordinary. The person and character of Lincoln grows and grows during this rendition of his political life just as it did in real-time. The man is an superior human being, thinker, politician, tactician who blessed these United States with his leadership at our most critical hour.

There are myriad details about Lincoln and his rivals, their lives and aspirations, strengths and foibles, successes and failures. Occasionally the narrative drags because of these, but eventually they contribute to the overall warp and woof of this important story.

Regardless of how well read you are on Lincoln and his presidency or the Civil War, this will be an appreciated addition to your current knowledge.

  • Washington: A Life

  • By: Ron Chernow
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 41 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,497
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,579
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,553

In Washington: A Life celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation. This crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his troubled boyhood, his precocious feats in the French and Indian War, his creation of Mount Vernon, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America's first president.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great book!

  • By Jack Merritt on 12-24-10

The George Washington We Need To Know

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

Reviewed: 01-28-18

Wow. Ron Chernow has done a most masterful job of depicting George Washington in his humanity—foibles and weaknesses included—and his magnificence as a warrior, Revolutionary General, President of the Constitutional Convention, first President of the United States, family man, businessman, modern farmer and troubled slave owner.

It’s complicated. Chernow weaves the listener through the myriad twists and turns of southern social structure, economics, politics and warfare of the last half of the 18th century in America—colony, rebellious people and new nation. He does this looking both at Washington and his cohorts and through Washington’s own eyes, thoughts and heart.

The listener learns that Washington was torn over the issue of slavery while passionate about the freedom of the new United States. His devotion to Martha and his extended family is heartrending and evocative of his generosity. He wanted to take care of everyone and he tried to do just that even while financial woes dogged him his whole life. He wanted and needed to appear the country gentleman of means but underneath it all was a constantly trouble personal economy. One of the biggest drags on his ability to make Mt. Vernon and his personal economy thrive was the overhead of caring for and about 300 slaves. He clearly understood the slave economy was a bad idea. It just wasn’t profitable not to mention humane. He also knew that the slavery issue would need to be faced or the union would break apart. He freed his slaves in his will and hoped that other southern plantation owners and farmers would follow suit. They didn’t.

The detail of Chernow’s work on Washington is compelling. As a US history major in college in the 1960’s, I never had such keen insights available to me. This work, along with Chernow’s “Hamilton,” has brought those two men higher in my esteem while my opinion of Jefferson and Madison has plummeted. Ah, American politics. Maybe not much has changed.

Get this book and listen to how the United States of America started because of the commitment, dedication, wisdom, patience, skill, thoughtfulness and honesty of George Washington.

  • John Marshall

  • The Chief Justice Who Saved the Nation
  • By: Harlow Giles Unger
  • Narrated by: Robert Fass
  • Length: 11 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 82
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 76
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72

A soul-stirring biography of John Marshall, the young Republic's great chief justice who led the Supreme Court to power and brought law and order to the nation. In the political turmoil that convulsed America after George Washington's death, the surviving Founding Fathers went mad - literally pummeling each other in Congress and challenging one another to deadly duels in their quest for power. Out of the political intrigue, one man emerged to restore calm and dignity to the government: John Marshall.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • History Alive

  • By Dale on 07-04-15

Thank Goodness for John Marshall

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

Reviewed: 11-23-17

H.G Unger has given John Marshall the light he so well deserves. Marshall was a devoted husband and father, a lawyer, a Revolutionary War hero, a diplomat and among the founders of the country. AND THAT was only during the first half of his life. That last 35 years was spent inventing how the Supreme Court should and would function in a democracy with three equal branches of government.

Few know how disruptive and contrary Thomas Jefferson was toward the federal judiciary. He did all he could (mostly duplicitously) to marginalize it and even eliminate it. Imagine. Had it not been for Marshall, Jefferson may have succeeded.

This book is the story of John Marshall, who he was and how he became such a force in American history. It's well written with excellent details, lots of characters and some thrilling exposés. The performance is excellent. For the American history buff, a must..

  • American Wolf

  • A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West
  • By: Nate Blakeslee
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall, Nate Blakeslee
  • Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,355
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,260
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,251

Before men ruled the earth, there were wolves. Once abundant in North America, these majestic creatures were hunted to near extinction in the lower 48 states by the 1920s. But in recent decades, conservationists have brought wolves back to the Rockies, igniting a battle over the very soul of the West. With novelistic detail, Nate Blakeslee tells the gripping story of one of these wolves, O-Six, a charismatic alpha female named for the year of her birth.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Epic American Story

  • By Michael - Audible Editor on 10-17-17

Stunning Story Well Told

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

Reviewed: 11-23-17

Nate Blakeslee has unfolded the tale of the return of wolves to the lower 48 states. It's a story for the curious, the wildlife biologist, the pragmatist, the visionary, the animal lover. It's also a love story.

Blakeslee develops the scene from the broad cloth of history's destruction of the wolf population in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He shows the "bad" reputation wolves have and the bad politics that haunts wolves. Then, he turns to the human characters who bring wolves back to Yellowstone. These are real people doing an incredibly difficult (nearly impossible) job in the front yard of wolf-haters. It's through these wildlife biologists and myriad volunteer observers that we learn about the magnificence of wolves and why their presence is welcome and actually helpful.

Finally, Blakeslee introduces the reader to wolves, animals with character and personality. The Alpha females and Alpha males of various packs that develop in Yellowstone. Soon, 21 and 42 are friends of the listener, too. Eventually we meet O-6, a female who can take down a 600 pound elk by herself (it usually takes a pack of 3, 4 or more to accomplish this). We watch her court brothers 754 and 755 and her unlikely choice of the smaller of the two.

So too, we meet those flinty characters of Wyoming in their pickup trucks with gun racks who want nothing more than to shoot a wolf. They and their political friends have personalities and reasons for their positions.

The story is compelling and masterfully written. Not over written. Not sentimental although there is a lot to be sentimental about. Moreover, the narrator does a superb job of conveying the words into images that sustain and engage the listener. A terrific book!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

  • By: Jack Weatherford
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis, Jack Weatherford
  • Length: 14 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,465
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,280
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,292

The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in 25 years than the Romans did in 400. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant, insightful, intriguing.

  • By Peter on 03-05-10

Who Knew?

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

Reviewed: 10-29-17

Weatherford has crafted a meticulous treatment of the (in)famous Genghis Khan. Did everything happen as he depicts it? Doesn't matter. His years-long scholarly approach to this incredible character is as good as we can get 700 years removed. Genghis Kahn comes alive, as do his family members, horses, friends and enemies, not to mention Mongolia and the lands the great Khan invades. That this greatest of all leader/conquers is maligned as the badass of history is debunked. Yes, the man could kill but, oh my, his beneficent achievements put the blood into a cautionary perspective. The book is long but well worth the time.

  • In a Sunburned Country

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: Bill Bryson
  • Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,135
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,520
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,516

Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion on the Appalachian Trail resulted in the best seller A Walk in the Woods. Now, we follow him "Down Under" to Australia with this delectably funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance that combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity. More from Bill Bryson.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Laugh out loud funny

  • By Larry on 06-09-03

Another Beauty by Bryson

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

Reviewed: 09-30-17

Reviewing one of the finest wordsmiths in the English language is humbling. Quite simply, Bryson has an extraordinary vocabulary, an eye for and interest in detail the reader has no idea s/he is interested in and mastery of the language such as to express eloquence in the mundane and humor in the obscure. I love reading/hearing Bill Bryson. His voice is perfect and his cadence delightful. "In a Sunburned Country" is wonderfull and I commend it to anyone who has never encountered Bryson and those looking for their next Bryson read. Thanks for the tour.

  • West with the Night

  • By: Beryl Markham
  • Narrated by: Julie Harris
  • Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,426
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,156
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,158

West with the Night is the story of a remarkable woman molded and shaped by many things: the African jungle, a certain dog, horses, airplanes, friendships with white men and black. There is no life, no story quite like it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Top Notch Writing; Riveting Stories

  • By Michael Moore on 08-03-09

One of 5 Books to Have on a Desert Island

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

Reviewed: 09-07-17

Beryl Markam's "West with the Night"; is magnificent. I'd read it years ago and was agog at her beautiful descriptive writing and her ability to express deep, universal feelings. Such a keen observer, Markam is first and foremost an active participant in her life. She doesn't watch the days go by but leaps into the African bush, training race horses and flying.

Actually, I never finished "West with the Night" the first time I picked it up. I didn't read the final chapter which is the book's title and about her 1936 solo flight across the Atlantic from east to west. The reason? I wanted always to have the promise of reading more, more of her writing and more of her story. I savored what was ahead. Be that as it may, I re-read the book and finished the last chapter, enjoying her literary gift even more than I'd remembered or expected. Oh my. If I can have only 5 books on a desert island, "West with the Night" will be one of them.