Howarth's detailed account of the first decades of the British East India Company makes for a daunting listen. The text, while deeply learned, is often hard to follow as it jumps around in history and, while snappily written, is show-offy, laden with obscure allusions, and more interested in cleverness than clarity. Michael Page's throaty voice takes getting used to, but his... Read More
With a calm, even feel, actor/director and German native Sam Peter Jackson presents this detailed and intense insider's history of a newly minted post-WWII country that was often caught between Russian political purges and American Cold War pressures. This account is told from a fresh non-Western point of view, and Jackson's tone reflects the defiant pride in the author's... Read More
Narrator Nigel Patterson brings elegance, precision, and a fine sense of pacing to a narrative that spans 11 centuries, and is so packed with events and memorable figures that the Hundred Years War and the life of Joan of Arc comprise only one episode. What a richly detailed, thoroughly engrossing narrative this is, spacious enough to include a half-hour description of a... Read More
Sean Patrick Hopkins narrates this deep dive into Chicago history with an engaged tone as the listener hears how Mrs. Leary got a bad rap for the notorious fire that ravaged the city in 1871. The audiobook details the fire itself before launching into a comprehensive look at the aftermath and several of the key players involved--publisher/politician Joseph Medill and politician... Read More
In a concise 10-and-a-half hours, this fascinating history of secret writing advances step-by-step from ancient hieroglyphics to the vastness of computerized encryption. Narrator Patty Nieman hasn't quite the ease and naturalness of an experienced performer. But she has an appealing voice, and she is especially effective here, where so much is information driven, with little... Read More
Presenting the prologue of this inspiring audiobook, the author, Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse, sounds utterly appealing and authentically grateful for the people he profiles. His performance is a hard act to follow for narrator Leon Nixon, whose pacing and vocal enthusiasm fall somewhat short of the standard set by the author. But listeners' focus will easily shift to the... Read More
It's no surprise that Steve Inskeep, of National Public Radio, narrates well. He has the practiced cadence and authoritative tone of a polished broadcaster. What is most satisfying about this audiobook is how compelling a listen it is. After all, his subject is Abraham Lincoln, the most studied and written about president in American history. Inskeep examines how the great man... Read More
In an authoritative bass voice, Corey Snow splendidly narrates Harl's account of the nomadic peoples of the Eurasian Steppe. The author explains how they shaped events in their day and how those events echo today. Looking at the peoples through their leaders, we hear the stories of such historical giants as Attila the Hun, the Mongol Ghengis Khan and his grandson Kublai, and... Read More
Courtney Patterson's expressive narration admirably serves this account of Martha Washington's children from her first marriage and their impact on the United States. Good's account shows George stepping up as a father figure and presents Martha's children as heirs to his legacy. However, they were also quite often its prisoners. Celebrity comes with a price, and the... Read More
An audiobook that tracks Homer's composition of THE ILIAD sounds speculative at best. Such discussions usually rely on verbs like "might have" and "could have." But working largely from the poem itself, Oxford scholar Fox assembles a remarkably rich and convincing portrait of a figure who could have composed and recited from memory a poem of over 15,000 lines. Narrator Robin... Read More
Narrator Kaipo Schwab brings a bright, naturalistic delivery to this collection of decidedly academic essays that re-examine the first and continued contact between Native peoples and the Europeans who arrived to "conquer" the Americas. The eye-opening contention is that after 1492, one group did not simply replace the other; instead Indigenous peoples used politics, labor... Read More
Writer/comedian Jesse Joyce briskly narrates his version of the aftermath of President Lincoln's assassination, filling his account with humorous observations. Joyce adopts a casual, irreverent tone as he tells listeners that Thomas Boston Corbett, who killed presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth, was a hat maker who had been exposed to mercury. Joyce's history also covers... Read More
Traber Burns presents Davenport's minute-by-minute account of San Francisco's 7.9 magnitude earthquake and the ensuing firestorm that lasted several days in 1906. The conflagration was due in part to greed, graft, and political policy relating to matters such as looting. Burns's anchorman style is at once gruff, workmanlike, and unemotional. The narration may well resemble how... Read More
Janina Edwards and Megan Tusing share the narration of this audiobook about an almost forgotten uprising over desegregation. In 1956, the town of Clinton, Tennessee, became one of the first schools to combine both Black and white students. What followed was a brutal series of death threats, beatings, cross burnings, and even the presence of the National Guard. Edwards and... Read More
British actor Ben Onwukwe contributes the adamant and histrionic tone and British accent that are appropriate to a postcolonial audit of Britain's colonial past. The focal point of the narrative is September 29, 1923, the date that marked the Empire's greatest territorial expanse. All before that was acquisition; all after it, loss. And well-deserved loss, too, by this account.... Read More
Popular historian Tom Holland will be familiar to many listeners through the books RUBICON and PERSIAN FIRE, and his podcast THE REST IS HISTORY. He is an effective narrator, but his thick British accent and higher pitch require some time to acclimate to. Holland's strength is his lively, richly detailed material, so immersive that a listener is soon swept up in the action and... Read More
Classical history, that most venerable of subjects, is most effectively narrated by British voices, the more cultivated the better. Mark Elstob fills that requirement with grace and precision, and with a composure that keeps the bloodier elements of ancient geopolitics at a comfortable distance. In historian and novelist Goldsworthy's history of the ancient West's most powerful... Read More
Listeners can explore the only mutiny ever to take place aboard a U.S. Navy ship that occurred in 1842. Three crew members were hanged aboard the training vessel, and the captain faced a court-martial when the brig returned to port. The mutiny and the subsequent trial are recounted in this work. Jacques Roy's narration carries the audiobook along with an even tone. He adds no... Read More
Journalist Loren Grush's compelling history of the first women selected for NASA's astronaut corps is perfectly paired with Inés del Castillo's conversational and sensitively attuned narration. While these women's lives became inextricably bound through their historic service, this engaging audio production explores their individual experiences, both personal and professional.... Read More
Veteran NPR broadcaster Scott Simon explores the role of music in wartime propaganda in this entertaining, well-produced, and innovative audio program. Simon's grandfatherly voice guides listeners through a bizarre episode in WWII history, adding context with his own reflections about working in war zones and his tenuous connection to Tokyo Rose. More akin to a documentary or... Read More
From UNCLE TOM'S CABIN to the "Gettysburg Address," this concise and thought-provoking oral history of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery is told through the powerful words of those who were there. Each narrator delivers unique voices for the characters they portray. Moira Quirk accentuates Harriet Beecher Stowe's compassionate prose. Matthew Wolf finds the moral... Read More
British writer-comedian-actor David Mitchell regales listeners with his irreverent, sometimes profane, history of the English monarchs. Beginning with Arthur (he didn't really exist, according to our intrepid historian) and ending with Elizabeth I, Mitchell performs with energy and wry comedic timing. He holds all the monarchs in disdain, telling the most intimate and grisly... Read More
Paul Boehmer's thoughtful, well-paced narration encourages close listening to this beautifully written personal memoir and guide to the seventeenth-century Dutch master painters. When Pulitzer Prize-winning author Benjamin Moser relocated to the Netherlands, he sought to understand his place in a foreign country by delving into the lives and work of Rembrandt, Fabritius,... Read More
Hannah Curtis narrates accounts of the lives of Simone de Beauvoir, Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil, and Ayn Rand, who, among others, helped to lay much of the intellectual framework for the post-WWII Western world during the decade before that war. Their lives were often something of a hot mess and could be dramatic, but we probably wouldn't expect it to be any other way. Curtis's... Read More
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