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Betsy

Everett, MA, United States
  • 8
  • reviews
  • 43
  • helpful votes
  • 12
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Foundation audiobook cover art
  • Foundation
  • The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors: The History of England, Book 1
  • By: Peter Ackroyd
  • Narrated by: Clive Chafer

Grossly Biased

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

Reviewed: 09-06-15

I have really enjoyed some of Ackroyd's other works but this book contains so many inaccuracies it was difficult to sit through. The author clearly loves his country and has a lot of trouble with the fact that early centuries of history of England involve the English repeatedly being conquered without putting up much of a fight.

The English language is such a bizarre mixture of Celtic, old German, old Norse, French and Latin because of the English habit of settling down side by side with their conquerors and learning their language. Rather than putting up a long-term resistance. He downplays this by having old German and Celtic seem to spring up side by side (rather than being brought by the Germanic invasions). And completely misses the Latin routes of English words and place names. For example, he claims the "minster" at the end of many English towns is from "to minister" when it is derived from the Latin for monastery. As historians always note, when common everyday words are being adapted into a language it means they are being spoken side by side, likely by bilingual people.

He exaggerates the resistance against the Romans (yes, there was one serious revolt but that's all nothing compared to what the Romans went through in Gaul and Hispania) and downplays the English pleas for Roman help. He greatly exaggerates the resistance against the Danish and the antipathy for Knut (who was generally a well regarded king). He claims the English so easily took to the Normans because the conquest really began under Edward the Confessor (while he did bring over Norman advisers he didn't change the local gentry or organization and his greatest advisers, the Godwinsons, were English meaning the vast majority of English would have no contact with his Normans). He tries to downplay Æthelred the Unready's incompetence by chalking it up to bad luck when his mass slaughter of *loyal* Danish occupants who had been in England for generations, and who had close community ties with the English, is the reason so many (English and Danish alike) defected to Sven Forkbeard.

He claims Henry I hated the English, which is false. Henry and his English wife were mocked by his Normans as Godric and Godgifu because he was considered too much of an anglophile. He insisted on calling his son atheling, English for prince.

While there are positives, the book is so absurdly biased that it is difficult to take seriously.

A Feast for Crows audiobook cover art

Subpar

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

Reviewed: 05-18-14

As others have said, the narration is just abysmal. I don't know what happen but the mispronunciation of names and complete change in voices is unfathomable.

The story is also not as good as the previous.

A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts audiobook cover art

Interesting

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

Reviewed: 01-20-14

I thought this was a great overview of an interesting period. The only "critique" I have is that it was a bit of a slow start. The professor sort of glossed over Henry VII, in my opinion. But after that he was consistently enjoyable and engaging. And does a great balance of the big events of history and some social, political and economic history

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest audiobook cover art

Very Enjoyable

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

Reviewed: 01-01-14

A great overview of the periods covered. It is just an overview of a large period of time so a lot is left out. But it doesn't feel that way when you listen. The Professor has a nice conversational style but is clearly very knowledgeable. I appreciate the occasional pauses to discuss culture or living conditions of the country. But the real story is the kings and sometimes their queens. I would say the lectures get stronger about the time of the Norman Conquest (which is pretty early in). More interesting but also the Professor seems on slightly more solid ground.

I really recommend it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

Shakespeare's Tragedies audiobook cover art

Well done

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

Reviewed: 11-10-13

The professor gives a lot of interesting insight into the plays. Other lectures will get into the more technical aspects or the plays. But this felt more like a discussion about the plays themselves, which was delightful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Odyssey of Homer audiobook cover art

Enjoyable

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

Reviewed: 10-20-13

I really enjoyed both this and The Iliad. The professor is knowledgeable and fleshed out the story. But she retained the sense of wonder at the enormous achievement So much of Homeric studies have lost the amazement at wonder at an amazing work of literature by focusing too much on the mechanics of who and how.

But it is very obvious that this and The Iliad were one course. She references back to things form the previous course and does not include the introductory lectures on Homer, which are necessary. And she refers to it as a Homer course. I did listen to The Iliad first so this was no loss for me but if you don't then you are losing something. More importantly a very obvious way to scam credits off of people by Audible.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

Herodotus: The Father of History audiobook cover art

Really Loved It

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

Reviewed: 09-15-13

I thought this was completely informative and enjoyable. It does what courses like this do best by taking a topic you know a little bit about and just expanding it. At first, I was skeptical about the Professor but I was wrong. She was knowledgeable and easy to follow. But she also seemed to just genuinely enjoy the topic and have a lot of affection for Herodotus (as odd as that sounds by the end I did too), which really makes you get into it.

The Histories really were an amazing achievement from a person who seemed to be maybe naive maybe intentionally deceptive but, regardless, endlessly curious and inquisitive about just everything. Not just the wars but culture, religion, science. And the Professor conveys that along with conveying facts.

It obviously seems like a narrow and niche topic to pick up. But I really think it is worth it. It really covers a lot about the history of history and of the time. The Professor talks about how Herodotus influences others (even as they were disdainful of him) but I think that has never been more relevant. She doesn't get into it but at this point there is an "oral history" on every topic imaginable floating around. Some are considered classics (Please Kill Me, Live From New York and most of Studs Terkel). And some aren't. But the idea of learning about a topic and a place in time by just talking to a bunch of people and relating what they say word for word even if one contradicts the other has definitely come back into vogue in a very big way. That approach has a lot of flaws when it comes to relating facts and dates (so traditional history is of course important) but it often captures the mood, the feelings, the idea of a place (the real truth) in a way relating the facts can't. And, in that sense, Herodotus has truly never been more relevant.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

American Colossus audiobook cover art

Differnt but Interesting

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

Reviewed: 09-07-13

It is definitely a meandering book and fairly different than most history books, in a way I think more historians would dislike. But I felt that that approach served this topic fairly well. A survey covering the growth and change of the American economy during this time period isn't about a war or another easily charted even with a clear beginning and end. I enjoyed the different looks at the North, South and West. The looks at the high and low classes and how politics began to be wrapped up in economics in a way it had never quite had (in the US) before.

I think many are put off but the use of "capitalism" v. "democracy" and I agree that nothing could ever be so simplified (and our system of government, while flawed, is far more democratic now than it was in 1864). But I think in context it works because the point is explaining how this concept of capitalism sort of took over the country. Capitalism wasn't new, of course, but the US did drastically change between 1865 and 1895 and an event like the Civil War was probably more of a byproduct of the change than a cause of it.

It did have its laws. I felt more time could have been spent on certain titans like JP Morgan. And after thorough introduction of the likes of Rockefeller and Carnegie they are sort of dropped for awhile. Part of the meandering narrative is that things do seem to sort of get lost in the fray. But a great many wonderful books have been devoted to those people.

It was an interesting topic. Some parts were better than others. But I really think it is worth it overall.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful