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February/March 2018

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QUEENS OF THE CONQUEST Alison Weir Read by Julia Franklin Alison Weir's newest sweeping history recounts the stories of the five Norman queens of England and Europe, begin- ning with Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror in 1066, and ending with Empress Maud in 1154. As suits a regal history, narrator Julia Franklin adopts a highborn tone in her narration. She reads at a graceful pace with appro- priate pauses so listeners can absorb the complex details. Each of the various people associated with the queens and their courts is imbued with an appropriate accent and persona. Franklin differentiates the back- ground narrative from letters and written historical accounts through a fluid shift of inflection and emphasis. She brings the period alive with her polished, melo- dious performance. M.B.K. Recorded Books 17.5 hrs. Unabridged Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9781470376390 $123.75 (also MP3, DD) THE SHADOW IN THE GARDEN: A Biographer's Tale James Atlas Read by George Newbern Expertly read by George Newbern, Atlas's history/memoir on the art of writing biography is a listener's treat. Atlas, the biographer of Delmore Schwartz and Saul Bellow, surveys the history of biog- raphy with an insider's eye and recounts his own career in what amounts to a fif- ty-year history of American literary life. Rich in anecdote, insight, and wit, this is one of those rare literary gems that exceed their dimensions. Newbern per- fectly captures the fine balance between reverence and irony of an author who is part greenhorn, part cognoscente. Names like Irving Howe, Dwight MacDonald, and Leon Edel are mostly forgotten today. Here is a voice to rekindle their unique spirits, and those bygone decades they defined. D.A.W. Random House Audio 13.5 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9781524783631 $22.50 Books on Tape Library Ed.: DD ISBN 9781524783648 $95.00 FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: A Political Life Robert Dallek Read by Rick Adamson Franklin D. Roosevelt is remembered for his leadership during the Great Depression and WWII, dealing with his disability from polio, and his efforts in conservation—but this work focuses on his political sense and accomplishments. Rick Adamson offers an even, easy-on- the-ears narration. He varies his tone slightly, which makes some of the more arcane sections flow without becoming tedious. The audiobook is more analysis than storytelling, so interested listeners will need to concentrate. Adamson's read- ing helps keep one engaged. He wisely doesn't set off direct quotes with a change of voice, which would be at best cartoon- ish, given how well known FDR's voice is. While the work doesn't break any new ground, it's an interesting examination of the political life of one of the twentieth century's greatest leaders. R.C.G. Penguin Audio 29.75 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9780525497486 $60.00 (also DD) Books on Tape Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9780525497509 $60.00 (also DD) NEVER CAUGHT Erica Armstrong Dunbar Read by Robin Miles Ona Judge was a mixed-race slave in the Mount Vernon household of George and Martha Washington until she escaped in 1796, three years before the president's death. Robin Miles gives voice to this remarkable woman, who was pursued by the Washingtons but even- tually found freedom in New Hampshire. Miles's reading is straightforward and unadorned, mirroring Dunbar's journalistic tone, but it's never dry. Although the text includes few of Judge's own words, it con- tains a wealth of historical context and personal detail gleaned from interviews the fugitive gave to abolition- ist newspapers near the end of her long life. In the hands of a skilled writer and a passionate narrator, this rich source material is crafted into an entertaining and important history. D.B. Simon & Schuster Audio 6.75 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9781442394506 $17.99 HOOVER: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times Kenneth Whyte Read by Richard Ferrone Narrator Richard Ferrone adds a steady voice to this provocative biography of the 31st pres- ident of the United States. Unwilling to gloss over his deficiencies or elevate his successes to legendary status, the writer and narrator enable the listener to appreciate that timing is everything. Ferrone delivers the tone and pace of the chronicler as Hoover's roller coaster of a life unfolds. His ability to encapsulate the anger and excitedness, the euphoria and deep sadness of a life spent in service keeps the listener wanting to know more about this underrated historical figure. Ferrone resurrects an extraordinary life such that audiophiles will be looking for more. T.D. Random House Audio 27.5 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9780525500339 $27.50 Books on Tape Library Ed.: DD ISBN 9780525500346 $95.00 History & Biography Ferrone adds a steady voice to this provocative biography. February/March 2018 n 21

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