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Bill Staley

Santa Monica, CA USA
  • 8
  • reviews
  • 4
  • helpful votes
  • 22
  • ratings
  • History of the Ancient World: A Global Perspective

  • By: Gregory S. Aldrete, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Gregory S. Aldrete
  • Length: 24 hrs and 24 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,060
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 945
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 940

The ancient world has cast a long shadow, influencing our customs and religious beliefs, our laws, and the form of our governments. It has taught us when and how we make war or pursue peace. It has shaped the buildings we live and work in and the art we hang on our walls. It has given us the calendar that organizes our year and has left its mark on the games we play.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Outstanding - Informative AND Entertaining

  • By Matt on 11-20-13

Engaging and interesting from the first minute

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

Reviewed: 10-07-18

This was like a perfectly abridged and updated Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. Professor Aldrete presents the material with enthusiasm. He notes areas in which historians differ and why. He has overarching themes, which tie the materials together well. It all necessarily moves quickly, so for the areas that you know well, you will say "But wait, there is so much more to say!" But there will be lots of new material, even for those who took a class like this a decade or more ago. I highly recommend this class. I will gladly download any Great Courses class that this professor teaches. He has no annoying quirks. I have listened to many courses in audiobook format over many years (I have a 40 minute commute each way), and this might be the best of the best.

  • Respect Yourself

  • Stax Records and the Soul Explosion
  • By: Robert Gordon
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 17 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 73
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 74

The story of Stax Records unfolds like a Greek tragedy. A white brother and sister build a record company that becomes a monument to racial harmony in 1960’s segregated south Memphis. Their success is startling, and Stax soon defines an international sound. Then, after losses both business and personal, the siblings part, and the brother allies with a visionary African-American partner. Under integrated leadership, Stax explodes as a national player until, Icarus-like, they fall from great heights to a tragic demise.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great narration

  • By A. K. Moore on 10-29-14

A great American music and business story

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

Reviewed: 07-16-18

The story of the founding of Stax records and the colorblind attitude of its founders is a great story of American business and music. I listened to it all the way through, and then again up to 1972. I wanted to hear all of the music mentioned in the book, and having a streaming music service made that mostly possible. I bought all of the Otis CDs and the one-CD version of the Monterey Pop Festival and I am glad I did. The audio book format is not perfect for following up with the music, because you can't mark the name of the band and song you want to check out, like you could in a hard copy. The good thing about the audio book is that if you listen to the book on your phone, and have a streaming service on it, you can go back and forth smoothly. It makes for a very fun experience.

The narrator is good. She tries hard to give each recurring person a distinct voice.

There is a nice video about the Muscle Shoals studio. I did not view the video based on this book. It seems like there might be an interesting book to be written about the recordings in the 60s at Muscle Shoals, Stax and the NYC studios of Atlantic Records. It seems like there are enough vignettes that would be interesting, without the "building the business" angle. Just a thought.

  • Joy in the Morning

  • By: P. G. Wodehouse
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Cecil
  • Length: 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 266
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 163
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 166

Trapped in rural Steeple Bumpleigh, a man less stalwart than Bertie Wooster would probably have given way at the knees. For among those present were Florence Craye, to who Bertie had once been engaged...and her new fiance 'Stilton' Cheesewright, who regarded Bertie as a snake in the grass...also Zenobia Hopwood and her guardian Lord Worplesdon, whose violent antipathy to 'Boko' Fittleworth amounted to obsession...and that biggest blot on the landscape, Edwin the Boy Scout.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great story & reader, quality is not wonderful!

  • By Masselyn on 08-22-05

One of the best Bertie and Jeeves books, well done

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

Reviewed: 07-16-18

This is Wodehouse at his best plotting. The characters are memorable and somehow stand out from the characters at the other country houses Bertie and Jeeves visit. Wodehouse is amazing at this. The narrator is very good. His Jeeves is understated and the narrator does not convey the twinkle in Jeeves' voice when he responds to Bertie's inanities. But the narrator is more than adequate.

PS I first read these books in paperbacks long before the internet. Now that it is possible to look up the quotations immediately, I feel like I am getting a proper British education. (Wink.) The main fun is the story, the characters, and the fabulous turns of phrase, as always. But in 2018 being able to take a quick break from the book and to look up the quotes from Hamlet and Macbeth and Tennyson is an added pleasure.

  • French Lessons

  • Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew
  • By: Peter Mayle
  • Narrated by: Simon Jones
  • Length: 5 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 248
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 123
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 125

Armed with knife, fork, and corkscrew, Peter Mayle travels to every corner of France. From bouillabaisse to escargot, here is all the glory and pleasure of the French table in the most satisfying audiobook. Bon appétit!

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Delightful

  • By Diane on 02-13-05

French excess

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

Reviewed: 07-16-18

Unlike the Aix books, this one is about a series of festivals of food and wine. There were some long lunchs in the earlier books, but this is all long lunches and few stories or characters. Narrator Simon Jones thinks he is Bond - James Bond. A bit too arch. Not a great combination. It seems dated in 2018. It might be best to hear a chapter at a time, with some time between them. Maybe these were written as magazine articles, which would have been perfect -- with a month or two between each chapter. Listening to it straight through when commuting, it looses its luster pretty fast. Peter Mayle is still a great author and the narrator is clear and varies his pitch well. It's just that massive amounts of fine food and wine at one sitting after another is not an attractive subject in 2018 -- if it ever was.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

  • By: Ulysses S. Grant
  • Narrated by: Robin Field
  • Length: 29 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 640
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 544
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 545

Among the autobiographies of great military figures, Ulysses S. Grant’s is certainly one of the finest, and it is arguably the most notable literary achievement of any American president: a lucid, compelling, and brutally honest chronicle of triumph and failure. From his frontier boyhood, to his heroics in battle, to the grinding poverty from which the Civil War ironically rescued him, these memoirs are a mesmerizing, deeply moving account of a brilliant man told with great courage.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Surprisingly funny and very informative.

  • By Trent on 08-20-12

For anyone interested in American history

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

Reviewed: 10-10-17

Laura Ingalls could have written his early life. He sounds like Mark Twain's more serious cousin, with the searing honesty turned up and the cleverness dialed down, but keeping the irrepressible dry humor. The subordinates who let him down are lightly roasted. His frustration with his superiors in Washington DC is evident, as is his respect for Lincoln. The troop movements are a bit dense in an audiobook, but not terrible. Access to a book of Civil War maps will be helpful. Mostly what comes through is how he thought through what his opponent might do and made his own countermoves accordingly. Unfortunately, it does not extend very far after the Civil War. Although we know in advance how and where the war ended, the book is surprisingly suspenseful.

His thoughts about Robert E. Lee are one of the joys of the book. General Lee is always in the narrative. Grant comments with frustration on how the Northern press adored Lee.
Then he corresponds with Lee. Finally, he meets Lee face to face. As a writer, Grant rises to the momentous occasion.

Robin Field is the perfect narrator. I forgot that there was a narrator. His laconic, midwestern, understated style is perfect. At first it seems like he might be too low key, but he's not. His inflections are varied and perfect. He never, ever sounds like he is thinking about something else. I checked other versions of the Memoirs. I do no understand why anyone would want to listen to someone with a British accent reading Grant's Memoirs.

The story of how the Memoirs were written and the involvement of Samuel Clemens in its publication is fascinating, as is the possibility of Mr. Clemens applying a light edit to make his friend's do-or-die book more marketable. Just a thought.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Ghost Rider

  • Travels on the Healing Road
  • By: Neil Peart
  • Narrated by: Brian Sutherland
  • Length: 15 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 401
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 368
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 374

In less than a year, Neil Peart lost both his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, and his wife, Jackie. Faced with overwhelming sadness and isolated from the world in his home on the lake, Peart was left without direction. That lack of direction lead him on a 55,000 mile journey by motorcycle across much of North America, down through Mexico to Belize, and back again.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not happy, but fascinating

  • By Jim In Texas! on 09-25-14

More bike, less angst please

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

Reviewed: 12-04-16

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

Yes, I have recommended it, as it was recommended to me. it a an enjoyable travel story. There is enough about his motorbike travels to keep it interesting.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The least favorite was his "little baby soul." He can be very, very precious. Also, the too-chummy letters to his best friend (not a charming character) are a bit tedious.

Which scene was your favorite?

The open road and his adventures with his bike are really fun. Plus it's fun hearing his take on places that I have been. it is interesting that he is traveling with a no-limit credit card and people to watch over his finances, his mail and his house. He does not apologize that he has money and is not afraid to spend it. I liked that.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When he was traveling solo on the open road and speaking to the reader, not inserting letters to his friend, were the best parts. His family story and love life were not very interesting to me, nor was his house in Canada or his career as a drummer. In fact, I would like the version that starts when he mounts his bike and ends with his last trip, with one-sentence transitions between trips. I would like more info about what was done when he took the bike in for maintenance and repairs, what surprised him or the mechanics., what he wished was different about his bike. Did he lust for other bikes in the shops?

Any additional comments?

The narrator is kind of wimpy. It might have been a lot better with another narrator. I don't know what Neil's speaking voice is like, but I don't care if the narrator sounds like him. It negatively affected the experience.

Neil has a nice way with words. I especially liked the "Shar-Pei hills of California." I appreciated his many insights. I do wish it was more about his travels and less navel-gazing. I understand that he had terrible experiences that set him off on his travels, and that he is a sensitive guy. I just did not want to hear so much about it.

  • Jupiter's Travels

  • By: Ted Simon
  • Narrated by: Rupert Degas, Ted Simon
  • Length: 16 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 425
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 400
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 400

On October 6, 1973, Ted Simon knew there was no going back. He loaded up his 500cc Triumph Tiger in the pouring rain and said good-bye to London. Over four years he rode 64,000 miles round the world. Breakdowns, revolutions, war, a spell in prison, and a Californian commune were all part of his experience, which was colored variously by utter despair and unimaginable joy. He was treated as a spy, a god, a welcome stranger and a curiosity

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Eloquently Written ~ Exquisitely Told

  • By Joseph on 10-13-15

One of the great travel stories, read superbly

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

Reviewed: 12-04-16

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

Highly recommended to anyone, especially those who love travel stories or motorcycle journeys/.

What did you like best about this story?

The author is a very good writer, very insightful with a nice turn of phrase. The narrator is fantastic, coming up with dozens of voices and accents. The narration is a a tour de force and a real pleasure. The author had his ups and downs, and so will the reader. But perseverance is well repaid.

Which character – as performed by Rupert Degas and Ted Simon – was your favorite?

There are dozens of memorable characters, including a precocious 4-year-old.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I listened to it twice in a row, because I wanted to hear the intro after I finished it, and it was just as fun the second time.

Any additional comments?

Ted Simon has a great website. The Jupiters Travels - In Camera book is a nice companion to the audiobook. There are nice photos of this motorbike on the website and in the book.

In Long Way Round they meet Ted Simon in a marketplace in Mongolia. If you watched Long Way Round and enjoyed it, you will love this. Except that Ted Simon make Ewan and Charlie seem like pre-teens. Ted is a grown up, and an educated one. To be fair, he seemed like he was older than Ewan and Charlie when he set out.

You will be dying to buy a Triumph motorcycle when you read this.

  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

  • By: Benjamin Franklin
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 5 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 505
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 318
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 318

From printer's apprentice to internationally famous scientist, inventor, statesman, legislator, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin led a most remarkable life. Seldom is history so well articulated by someone who was there.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Inspirational

  • By LuVogt on 01-09-06

Great book, great reader, highly recommended.

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

Reviewed: 06-18-14

Would you consider the audio edition of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin to be better than the print version?

It was great to drive around Southern California with Ben Franklin. The writing is very conversational, and Grover Gardner is the perfect narrator. He brings out the dry humor and the irony. It's a joy. If you enjoy it as much as I did, you will probably find yourself looking up many of the best parts to remember later. (Franklin was VERY quotable.) Fortunately, the book is in the public domain and easy to find and search online (with footnotes and illustrations). Even though other reviewers have prepared you, it is a very disappointing shock when the book abruptly ends. I guess we are lucky to have as much as we do have. A quibble - When one chapter ends and another begins, there is no space between them. There is less of a pause than the narrator takes between paragraphs. This is jarring and it is an editing issue, not a narrator issue. It is a shame, because Franklin is a very good writer and you would like to savor the last line of the chapter for a moment. The publisher could easily remedy this, and I sure wish they would.I read this in high school and enjoyed it then, but much more now, as a grownup.To enjoy the book it is no more necessary to know the identities of all the people to whom he refers than it would be necessary to enjoy the stories of your grandpa or uncle (or an attractive person of the opposite sex). It would be nice, and might well reward the work involved. But it is not necessary.

What other book might you compare The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin to and why?

I came back to the Autobiography because of the recorded conversations available online with Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet's partner. I commend those conversations to you as an equal joy, especially if you keep up with the world of business. (Mr. Munger is also very quotable.) Another autobiography that I very much enjoyed was the Autobiography of a Yogi.

What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Ben Franklin riding shotgun with you in your car, chatting away, is wildly fun. Thank you Grover Gardner!.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It would be a waste to read Ben Franklin's Autobiography in one sitting. Partly because you need time to capture a quote before another one makes you forget the last one. If you have a long drive, this would be great, whether you are driving solo, with teenagers or another adult. There is lots of food for discussion (like the governor who promises to set up young Ben as a printer; or does having someone do you a small favor really make it more likely that they will do you a bigger favor?). Be aware that you will want to make some kind of notes (whether audio or on paper) as you listen, much more than other books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful