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The Vertigo Years

Europe 1900-1914
Narrated by: Joel Richards
Length: 15 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: History, European
3.5 out of 5 stars (39 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Europe, 1900 - 1914: a world adrift, a pulsating era of creativity and contradictions. The major topics of the day: terrorism, globalization, immigration, consumerism, the collapse of moral values, and the rivalry of superpowers. The 20th century was not born in the trenches of the Somme or Passchendaelebut rather in the 15 vertiginous years preceding World War I.

In this short span of time, a new world order was emerging in ultimately tragic contradiction to the old. These were the years in which the political and personal repercussions of the Industrial Revolution were felt worldwide: Cities grew like never before as people fled the countryside and their traditional identities; science created new possibilities as well as nightmares; education changed the outlook of millions of people; mass-produced items transformed daily life; industrial laborers demanded a share of political power; and women sought to change their place in society as well as the very fabric of sexual relations.

From the tremendous hope for a new century embodied in the 1900 Worlds Fair in Paris to the shattering assassination of a Habsburg archduke in Sarajevo in 1914, historian Philipp Blom chronicles this extraordinary epoch year by year. Prime Ministers and peasants, anarchists and actresses, scientists and psychopaths intermingle on the stage of a new century in this portrait of an opulent, unstable age on the brink of disaster. Beautifully written and replete with deftly told anecdotes, The Vertigo Years brings the wonders, horrors, and fears of the early 20th century vividly to life.

©2008 Phillip Blom (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Worst audiobook production I have ever heard

What disappointed you about The Vertigo Years?

This is a most interesting book. How the author could have permitted this production is beyond belief. Almost every foreign name, place or phrase is mis-pronounced by the narrator. It is a totally amateur production and ought never have been released in audio until someone who can pronounce foreign names correctly could be found. Embarrassing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Luiz
  • Sunnyvale, CA, USA
  • 09-15-15

Excellent

If you could sum up The Vertigo Years in three words, what would they be?

Panoramic view of early 1900's

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Vertigo Years?

Connections between culture changes, social changes, political changes and world historic events

Have you listened to any of Joel Richards’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no.

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

yes

Any additional comments?

Goes very well with Fracture, by the same author

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Really great history without pronounciation

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The narrator cannot pronounce a single name or word in the text.

What did you like best about this story?

It is really beautifully done - a detestable amount of detail about King Leopold's unsurpassed genocide in the Congo, but I am behind all of his unpacking of Colonialism.

Would you be willing to try another one of Joel Richards’s performances?

Never, although he has a perky Adam Gopnik-like voice and I listened for way too long because of the book. There is not ONE SINGLE WORD in French in German he can pronounce to save his life, to my regret, as it ruined the book for me. I had to give up.

Do you think The Vertigo Years needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Great book I need to read in text and pronounce in my head correctly before I can decide.

Any additional comments?

Missed opportunity. Great book, I think. A well-meaning perky reader with zilch ability in French/German pronunciation [key to hearing]. I blame the audiobook publisher for not briefing him. A waste. If you doubt me, check out Robert Hughes in Shock of the New on Ubuweb, since it is a lot of the same names and words and he gets 100 percent, and the narrator here, barely a thing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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

How do I put this? The narration is... NOT good.

I've been wanting to read this book for quite a while. Finally I see it's available in audiobook form and I buy it! Oh my gosh, I don't mean to be unkind but I hope they didn't actually pay the person who narrated it.

Mispronunciations: Auschwitz is pronounced "Oss-witch." Erascible is pronounced "Ee-rask-able." Barbara Tuchman's last name is pronounced "Touch-man." I could go on and on.

Accents: He starts out giving the French people Russian accents until I realize that is his idea of a French accent. However, he keeps his own American accent when reading British voices. I'm only about a quarter of the way through, but I think he has given up doing doing accents altogether.

Foreign Languages: I am no expert on correct pronunciations of French or German words, but I *think* he is murdering them too.

Sound Quality: Generally, the sound quality is poor; it sounds like this had been recorded in a broom closet. And when a correction is 'punched in' - that is, a phrase or sentence is re-recorded later on - it sounds so different as to sound like a different narrator in a different studio.

I was so glad to see this book was available in audiobook format, I made the mistake of buying it without reading the reviews first. I am sorry for that.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The Butcher

I agree that the narrator is a disaster. It's not only French words he butchers. He is impartial-- French, German, Italian, even a few English ones for time to time. Personal names, place names, ordinary words, without fear or favor. Still, if you can kind of guess at what he was supposed to say, the book is interesting. Each chapter is one year, and the author uses an incident during that year to explore a theme or related themes of the period. Mostly it works, occasionally it doesn't. The subjects covered are so varied that there is probably at least something here for anyone who is interested in the history of the period -- everything from Freud to Dreadnought.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Mispronounced words

This reader has a good modulated voice and reads well. However, he mispronounces many words such as inexorable, decorous, etc. In addition,his French pronunciation is appalling.. Atget with the final T emphasized is just one example. Why didn't the producer pick a reader who has a background in French or at least a working knowledge of the language. Too bad.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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

Pronunciation: don't even try.

A great overview of many facets of life from an era that we've overlooked and miss important historical fiction lessons as a result. BUT. The reader can't pronounce anything, ANYTHING that is not English. Great voice and pace is tossed aside by the painfully distracting butchery of German, French, and Russian. It's not just an American twang (that's not a problem in and of itself) it's a total disregard for the fact that the other languages of the world don't follow the same rules as English. Three hours of intensive lessons on German pronunciation and you would know that it's not GO-THA, but Goet(h)a. Or that ei is "aye" and ie is "ee". Nevermind that when the reader impersonated French (unnecessary anyway) it sounded like a Russian caricature. Half of the time I didn't know who was being discussed (Wait who is Yoo-len-berg? oh he means Eulenberg pronounced "Oilenberg"). Sometimes he even gets English wrong. Distracting and annoying but a fascinating account otherwise.

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

Ruined by Narrator

This is rich and nuanced book, packed with incidents and characters if great interest. Its themes have a haunting currency. What a shame it was delivered into the hands of a narrator who reveals the thinness of his education on almost every page. He mispronounces names, murders foreign phrases and mangles simple words. His insistence on 'litachur' and 'boogwa' is maddening. Poor casting. He's be great for Brad Easton Ellis--trapped, as he seems to be, in a bookless monolingual hyper-contemporary American sensibility. Where is the director? Producer? Editor? Do any adults listen to these readings before they are published? It seems cruel to leave this narrator to an eternity of self-embarrassment.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • A.
  • 08-06-11

Read this book - don't listen to it

Shame on everyone who had a hand in the production of this audiobook. The reader could not correctly pronounce words in any language, including English. Where was the quality control? Why did the editors allow such stupid errors? How could they release such shoddy work for sale? How could audible.com agree to sell such an inferior product? Be warned: buy this title in print and read it yourself. Listening to it will only set your teeth on edge and raise your blood pressure.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • NK
  • Texas
  • 04-24-11

Vertigo Years

This book wasn't what I expected. It had more of a social tone than a historical tone. While parts were informative I was disappointed I did not come away with more.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful