Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Listening to history

A really good book on history is very much like a really good novel - complex characters, a flowing narrative, exciting plot developments and an underlying message about society and humanity. So if you like to listen to novels on audio, you might think about listening to some history on audio as well:
1434: the year a magnificent Chinese fleet sailed to Italy and ignited the Renaissance is by Gavin Menzies, the same author who brought you 1421: the year China discovered America. In this new book, Menzies recounts the visit of a Chinese fleet to the Italian port of Tuscany in 1434. He postulates that it was this contact, and the willingness of the Chinese to share their knowledge of geography, engineering, printing, astronomy, architecture, mathematics and art that sparked an interest in science and learning that eventually led to the Renaissance (and we all know what that led to...). This audiobook is narrated by Simon Vance, who has done a wonderful job narrating the Patrick O'Brian books on ListenAlaska.
All Hands Down: the true story of the Soviet attack on the USS Scorpion by Kenneth Sewell and Jerome Preisler. This is a timely addition to the collection, since we not only just celebrated Veteran's Day, but this tragic event occurred 40 years ago this year. A revenge attack for the supposed sinking of a Soviet submarine off the coast of Hawaii (the cause of the sinking is still a mystery), the attack on the USS Scorpion cost the lives of 99 crew. Occurring at the height of the Cold War, while we were deep in the Vietnam War, the events of the sinking were kept quiet. The authors have used recently declassified Soviet and American military files, as well as hours of interviews, to piece together their story.
The Candy Bombers: the untold story of the Berlin Airlift and America's finest hour is by Andrei Cherny and narrated by Jonathan Davis. This book recounts the events leading to the blockade of West Berlin, and the dramatic airlift of food and fuel that kept the residents of West Berlin warm and fed and - more importantly - full of hope. This dramatic demonstration of America's military strength, material wealth, and determination to block further Soviet movement into Western Europe took place 60 years ago. This book is a nice reminder of that heroic effort.
The Training Ground: Grant, Lee, Sherman and Davis in the Mexican War 1846-1848 is by Martin Dugard. The Mexican War doesn't get a lot of attention nowadays, but it was the first U.S. war waged on foreign soil (our incursions into Canada during the War of 1812 apparently don't really count). It was also the dress rehearsal for the Civil War, and many of the big names on both the Union and Confederate side got their start during the Mexican War. Oh yeah, and we also doubled the size of the United States. There are plenty of good reasons to listen to this fascinating account of a neglected part of American history.

1 comment:

Gerard Saylor said...

I forgot to mention on this blog that I electronically ran into one of your customers.