Once past the earth's geophysical origins and the eventual rise of single-cell organisms, paleontologist Henry Gee presents a pithy, fascinating account of the stages of biological evolution. He's a deliberate, engaged narrator whose slow pacing will require adaptation. This and creative background music and sound effects (dinosaur sounds?) create a meditative and friendly... Read More
John Hopkins's rich, dramatic voice suits this account of the 13 days in 1962 when the world was on the verge of a nuclear catastrophe: the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hopkins artfully meets the challenge of describing the mutual brinksmanship that took place between the Soviet Union and the U.S. when Russian missiles were discovered a mere 90 miles from American shores. Hopkins... Read More
British actor Tim Bentinck narrates this remarkably witty and pithy audiobook with a sense of informed fun. He has a fine ability to mimic. Americans, French people, and Germans all are nicely emulated, and his restrained glee suits the encyclopedia maven Garfield's writing. He paces his delivery intelligently. Chock-a-block with factoids, this audiobook traces how knowledge... Read More
Hackett's history ranges from ancient through Renaissance medicine, psychology, religion, and literature to provide an erudite but comprehensible study of Elizabethan ideas of the mind and how it works. Helen Lloyd's performance is the text's perfect match. Her clarity and vocal precision mirror the clarity of the writing, which is rich and detailed but not obscure. The... Read More
The violent, complex history of the medieval Normans in France, England, Italy, and the Middle East and their outsize, indelible mark on history make for a remarkable story. Yet it's Norman history that the mouse in ALICE IN WONDERLAND reads to soaked characters as "the driest thing I know." Narrator Luke Thompson works hard to avoid drying out the listener by bringing a... Read More
William DeMeritt's voice is calm--even as he reveals the building tension among the Black WWII soldiers who staged a wildcat strike after an explosion at Port Chicago. Many of them were charged with mutiny in a case defended by future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Author Matthew F. Delmont draws heavily on Black newspapers to recount cases of "Hitlerism," violent... Read More
Linda Jones narrates this study subtitled "True Stories of America's Ghosts." It examines gender issues related to the most famous, notorious, and unusual legends of ghosts in our culture. Jones delivers the work in a cool, gentle voice. Divided into seven parts, this literary treatise on ghost tales, seances, and the paranormal includes only brief clips of such tales. Instead,... Read More
Kaipo Schwab narrates this sweeping history of North America, which is focused primarily on the territory that would become the United States. It is told from the vantage point of Indigenous peoples, who first arrived in around 10,000 BCE. Its emphasis is on the time period beginning with the first Europeans' "discovery" of the continent, and it continues through the latter... Read More
Nicholas Guy Smith's British-accented narration is always lively, never sounding dry or clinical. Author Luke Harding, a GUARDIAN journalist, tells the story of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with details that emphasize the human toll of the war. Smith recounts events with just enough emotion to put listeners on the scene. He captures the weariness of people trapped in... Read More
Mark Bramhall has the resonance of a nineteenth-century orator, and his fine articulation has flavored many period histories and biographies. Here he transports listeners to the 1860s and the docks of Liverpool, where Confederate and Union agents match wits over outfitting ships and munitions bound for Southern ports in the U.S. England was an uneasily neutral nation during the... Read More
This superb audiobook will surely rank among this year's finest histories and literary studies. British actress Julie Teal brings elegance and grace to popular historian Andrea Wulf's lively account of the unconventional group of authors, poets, and intellectuals who congregated in Jena, Germany, in the 1790s and early 1800s, and together inaugurated the modern romantic idea of... Read More
Roman Howell's narration makes the true story of Barnum Brown, the fossil-hunting scientist from Kansas who found the first Tyrannosaurus rex, seem like an adventure novel. Howell sounds excited and fascinated by Brown's ability to uncover fossils in what was becoming a crowded field. As dinosaurs became popular, the paleontologist from New York's American Museum was always... Read More
Scott Brick, with his rich baritone and impeccable pacing, delivers a commanding performance of a riveting, unconfirmed WWII incident. In 1943, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin met in Iran to strategize their attempt to end the war. Authors Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch lay out the Nazi conspiracy to kill the "Big Three," with action that moves from... Read More
With the enthusiastic delivery of an entertainment news anchor, narrator Armando Riesco emphasizes the shocking and obsessive elements of one of the most sensational crimes of all time. In 1924, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two promising and privileged 19-year-old scions of Chicago wealth, intricately planned the kidnapping, torture, and murder of a 14-year-old boy. Riesco... Read More
The listener, of course, knows the catastrophe that's ahead. But this dramatic audio history of Japan's rising militarism in the 1930s, based on American Ambassador Joseph Grew's extensive diaries, confirms the Hitchcockian theory that suspense is generated not by surprise, but by expectation. Narrator Dan Woren is, as always, matchless. Given a narrative so powerfully built... Read More
This audiobook's subtitle--"The Invention of Books in the Ancient World"-- describes this work better than its title. This history of books moves from the oral tradition to scrolls to codices and recounts how those lay the foundation for Western culture. The author's anecdotal style and short chapters translate well to audio. Sophie Robert offers an able and pleasing narration.... Read More
With studied detachment, narrator Matt Bates takes listeners through a roster of this past century's world shakers: Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Churchill, a dozen in all, eleven men and one woman, Margaret Thatcher. Bates, who is familiar to listeners of Bernard Cornwell's Last Kingdom novels, is sonorously, elegantly British, and a master of articulation. He smoothly... Read More
Narrated with the skill of an experienced audiobook narrator, Ben Macintyre's chronicle of life for prisoners of war at Colditz Castle is a fascinating story of survival during WWII. The German army used the castle, known for its exceptional architecture, for four years to house what it considered to be the prisoners most likely to rebel and escape. The stories are captivating,... Read More
With his appealing pitch and tempo patterns, narrator Chris Abernathy provides this engaging audiobook with the perfect balance of documentary clarity and vocal pizzazz. His calm tone and relaxed pacing let the author's diligent research and writing shine. Kennedy was elected the same year the first Baby Boomers became adolescents and took in the dramatic changes in the way... Read More
Rob Heaps's precise enunciation and steady pacing result in a splendid narration of these detailed accounts of the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and the ensuing civil war that resulted in the establishment of Soviet power. Drawing on numerous firsthand accounts and other sources, Beevor's history is one that will be enjoyed by history buffs, especially those intrigued by Russia.... Read More
Narrator James Lurie's voice is amiable and a bit sandpapery; it's especially effective in holding listener interest through specialized and sometimes marginal histories and biographies. Here he brings focus and definition to a family chronicle that's thin on drama and memorable characters but strong on social history. Over two centuries the Sassoon dynasty of Baghdadi Jews... Read More
Gabra Zackman narrates this meticulous account of the first rape trial in post-Revolutionary War (1793) New York City. Seventeen-year-old seamstress Lanah Sawyer is graced with manners, some education, and a dose of naïveté. Upon being raped, Lanah, with her stepfather's support, brings suit against Harry Bedlow, a notorious rake and cheat, and member of the moneyed class.... Read More
Listeners will notice the skepticism in Stefan Rudnicki's voice as he narrates some beliefs about Ukrainian history, like the theory that Attila the Hun was Ukrainian. The story illustrates the wide range of conflicting views that exist about the nation's past. Mostly, his deep voice clearly navigates about a thousand years of history, with author Andrew Wilson paying special... Read More
Josiah Osgood's story of the rivalry between Julius Caesar and Cato the Younger, and the civil wars that resulted, is a cautionary tale: Money in politics and toxic partisanship led to the end of the Roman Republic. Ana Clements's narration brings out the qualities of the text--she crafts it into a long, complex yet fairly compelling docudrama. Her voice, though not the... Read More
Expertly narrated, richly detailed, and charged with drama, this history of the courageous Germans who stood up against the Nazis will linger in the mind well after one has finished listening. Expect no German accents here, no overtones of menace or impending tragedy. Jamie Renell's restrained, finely nuanced narration vividly conveys the dilemma of Germans who opposed the... Read More
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