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Lord Peridot

Cornwall, UK
  • 137
  • reviews
  • 86
  • helpful votes
  • 156
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  • Quarrel with the King

  • The Story of an English Family on the High Road to Civil War
  • By: Adam Nicolson
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 8 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

Spanning England's most turbulent and dramatic decades---from the 1520s to the 1640s--- Quarrel with the King tells the story of four generations of one of the greatest families in English history, the Pembrokes, and follows their glamorous trajectory across 130 years of change, ambition, resistance, and war.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An interesting account of the lives of the Herveys

  • By Parissa on 06-07-09

Arcadia Lost

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

Reviewed: 21-10-18

Adam Nicolson writes with great finesse, weaving much research into a fine tapestry which describes England in the decades leading up to the Civil War in 1642, essentially the reigns of James I and Charles I. This is a charming book full of descriptions which ripple through the imagination just like the chalk streams which run through the great Wiltshire estate of the Earls of Pembroke. There is much history here too, such as the role of Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, in catalysing the downfall of the Stuart monarchy. On the other hand the threads holding the narrative together can seem a bit whimsical and repetitive. And some of the descriptive passages, notably of Wilton house itself could have come straight out of a National Trust guide book or go straight into one. Nevertheless, this is an imaginative and highly literary account of times past. And thanks to Simon Vance's excellent reading, a pleasure to listen to.

  • Unintended Consequences

  • How War in Iraq Strengthened America's Enemies
  • By: Peter W. Galbraith
  • Narrated by: Alan Sklar
  • Length: 6 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3

Called by New York Times columnist David Brooks the "smartest and most devastating" critic of President George W. Bush's Iraq policies, Peter W. Galbraith was the earliest expert to describe Iraq's breakup into religious and ethnic entities, a reality that is now commonly accepted.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Iraq 2003 to 2008

  • By Lord Peridot on 11-10-18

Iraq 2003 to 2008

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-10-18

The author Peter Galbraith, is the son of the famous economist JK Galbraith, but is a distinguished academic, commentator, politician and former US diplomat in his own right. In this book he gives a critique of America's disastrous policy in Iraq following the invasion of 2003 & the deposition of the Hussein regime. He writes clearly and with great knowledge, concern & perspective. So there is much to be learnt from this book. But it is quite hard going, partly because the events themselves are so dreadful but also because he chooses not to leaven the narrative with much in the way of anecdotes, character sketches or specific incidents of human interest. Nevertheless, the book provides a valuable insight and account of the mistakes & ineptitude of America's policy over this period which has had such terrible consequences for so many people in Iraq and the wider Middle East. Well read by Alan Sklar.

For my own benefit, if not for anyone else’s, here is a brief summary of what seems to have happened. On the very day of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld started talking about plans for invading Iraq, even though the US State Dept. & the US Military understood perfectly well that Al Quaeda was nothing to do with Iraq & Saddam Hussein. By 2003 the US with British support were ready to invade, albeit on the false pretence of the threat of WMD. The Iraqi's had a serious army and fought back but were soon defeated. The stage was now set for some sort of US led reconstruction to take place.

Initially there were sensible plans under Lt. General Jay Garner which crucially would have provided useful employment to the defeated Iraqi army, comprising several hundred thousand soldiers. However Garner was abruptly replaced by the diplomat Paul Bremer as head of the CPA, Coalition Provisional Authority. Given virtual pleni-potentiary powers Bremer overturned Garner’s plans resulting in the dismissal of hundreds of thousands of embittered Iraqi soldiers who had no other means of support, had experience of fighting & access to arms. Furthermore, these soldiers were Sunni Arabs who had been central to Hussein's suppression of the majority Shia Arab population & the non-Arab minority Kurds. The likelihood of chaotic, bloody sectarianism was anticipated with terrible foreboding at the time. And it soon became a reality.

  • Down and Out in Paris and London

  • By: George Orwell
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Northam
  • Length: 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 679
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 581
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 574

An autobiographical study, Down and Out in Paris and London follows Orwell as he tramps around both Paris and London. Pawning his belongings to buy food, unemployment, drinking heavily and jostling for a place in homeless hostels are but a few of the experiences related with candour and insight in this unabridged exclusive audiobook. Orwell was arguably one of the first 'gonzo' journalists.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb

  • By Richard Blant on 20-07-15

Excellent reading

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-09-18

Jeremy Northam has done readings of several of Orwell's books on Audible and you couldn't have a better choice. You feel very much that it is the author himself who is speaking to you. Quiet, clear, sympathetic, understated, humourous, sensitive & occasionally exasperated or indignant. Ironically, given the manners of the time & in view of his background, Orwell probably had a much posher voice than Northam's.

As for the book itself, its classic Orwell. Quietly reporting on the world from first hand experience, communicating all the injustices & madnesses that he encounters whilst leavening the story with humour & tales of human interest. The public in general get a very distorted view of the past by watching the endless stream of salacious period dramas shown on TV. Much better to read books like this one, or listen to excellent readings of them on Audible.

  • The Modern Scholar: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • By: Thomas F. Madden
  • Narrated by: Thomas F. Madden
  • Length: 8 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7

In this informative and lively series of lectures, renowned history professor Thomas F. Madden serves as the ultimate guide through the fall of ancient Rome. Professor Madden correlates the principles of Roman conduct that would forever change the world. Rome was an empire unlike the world had ever seen, and one that will likely never be duplicated. Peopled with personages of great distinction and even greater ambition, the Roman Empire contributed many of history's proudest advancements.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another Madden Hit

  • By Olivier on 09-02-14

Who would be a Roman Emperor?

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

Reviewed: 06-09-18

As others have noted this is primarily a discussion of political power & dynastic succession. The essential problem being who takes over from the last emperor when their reign comes to an end. Prof. Madden does an excellent job of making the subject interesting. And it is interesting. But at times you wish he would generalise a bit more and discuss instead the social & cultural issues resulting from Rome's decline. What for instance happened to all the Roman citizens living in provinces like Britain & Gaul which were conquered by Germanic tribes? Also recommended on this subject is Mike Duncan's "The Storm Before The Storm". Lecture titles in Madden's audiobook below.

1. The Decline and Fall of What?
2. The Sick Republic
3. The Augustan Revolution
4. The Julio-Claudian Emperors
5. Instability and War
6. Order Restored: The Five Good Emperors, 96–180
7. Military Dictatorship
8. The Spreading Anarchy, 235–284
09. Diocletian and the Reform of Empire
10. Constantine and the Conversion of Empire
11. The New Threat of Heresy
12. Theodosius and His Successors
13. The Fall of Rome
14. Rome After Rome

  • The Modern Scholar: A History of Venice

  • Queen of the Seas
  • By: Prof. Thomas F. Madden
  • Narrated by: Thomas F. Madden
  • Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21

Renowned professor Thomas F. Madden focuses his expertise on what has been called the most beautiful city in the world: Venice. In these lectures, Professor Madden explains how the city on the lagoon was established by refugees escaping the onslaught of northern “barbarians” invading the crumbling Roman Empire. Through its history, Venice housed the world’s leading merchants, thrived as a maritime powerhouse, and developed into an independent republic not unlike the present United States.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting and entertaining

  • By Anna on 20-05-10

Another Madden home run!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-08-18

Prof. Madden gives an excellent introduction to the long & important history of Venice's role in the commerce, diplomacy & military affairs of the mediterranean. Venice is a beautiful city but it has an equally fascinating past. Only slight criticsm is that would rather hear a bit more on the culture, economics & customs of the people at the expense of dynastic succession details. Lecture titles below.

1. Refugees of the Lagoon: The Origins of Venice
2. Coming of Age: The Expansion of Venetian Power
3. In a Dangerous World
4. In the Age of the Crusades
5. A Merchant Republic in a Feudal Age: Political Reform in Medieval Venice
6. Birth of a Maritime Empire: Venice and the Fourth Crusade
7. Birth of Modern Finance in Venice
8. The Rise of Venice: Prosperity and Power in the West and East
9. A Time of Wars: The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries
10. A New World: The Fall of Byzantium and the Rise of the Renaissance
11. A Medieval Republic in a Modern World: The Decline and Fall of Venice
12. The Grand Tour and Carnevale
13. The Empty House: Venice and the State of Italy
14. Modern Venice

  • The Modern Scholar: Empire of Gold: A History of the Byzantine Empire

  • By: Thomas F. Madden
  • Narrated by: Thomas F. Madden
  • Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 46
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23

In this course, Thomas F. Madden offers a history of the culture that developed out of the ancient Roman Empire throughout the Middle Ages. The story begins at the end of the Roman Empire in the third century AD and continues over the next 1000 years. Professor Madden leads a discussion covering the aftermath and influence of this extraordinary empire. Europeans now saw a world in which nothing stood between them as the last remnant of free Christendom and the ever-growing powers of Islam.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Engrossing Story Told By An Expert

  • By Olivier on 29-01-13

Byzantine in more ways than one!

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

Reviewed: 13-08-18

As others have said this is not Madden at his very best, but its still good & worth listening to. If you happen to be looking for an introduction to the vexed subject of succession in the Byzantine empire then this is definitely for you. There is much detail about who poisoined who & when. But for the average listener it gets tedious as you hear a litany of names & dates that are instantly forgettable and could have been summarised in just one or two lectures. Madden also gives much attention to the military woes of Constantinope and they are many, with the empire doing its best to fend off the Persians, the Arabs, the Slavs & finally the Turks. Its a very interesting & important story but might have been even better if the Prof. had said a bit more about the Byzantine people, their customs, laws & beliefs. Lecture titles below :

1. The Emerging Empire of New Rome, 284–457
2. Justinian and the Reconquest of the West, 457–565
3. The City of Constantinople: A Guided Tour of the Greatest City in the Western World.
4. The Turn Eastward, 565–717
5. Survival, 717–867
6. A Golden Age: The Macedonian Dynasty, 867–1025
7. Weakness and Wealth, 1025–1081
8. The Turn to the West: The Comnenan Dynasty, 1081–1180
09. Decline, Decay, and Destruction, 1180–1204
10. Struggle for Byzantium’s Corpse, 1204–1261
11. The Empire Reborn, 1261–1328
12. The Final Decline, 1328–1391
13. The Fall of Rome, 1391–1453
14. Aftermath and Legacy

  • The Modern Scholar: The Medieval World I: Kingdoms, Empires, and War

  • By: Thomas F. Madden
  • Narrated by: Thomas F. Madden
  • Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17

This all-encompassing investigation of a highly influential time period includes the major events of the era and informative discussion of empire, papacy, the Crusades, and the fall of Constantinople. During the course of these lectures, Professor Madden also addresses the rise of Islam, reform movements, and schisms in the church. In so doing, Professor Madden underscores the significance and grand scale of an age that continues to hold an undeniable fascination for people today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Genesis of modern Europe

  • By Lord Peridot on 13-08-18

Genesis of modern Europe

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-08-18

This is another great set of lectures by Prof. Madden which illuminates the evolution of the western Roman Empire into something recogniseable as modern day Europe. Besides the fall of Rome, Madden discusses the related issues of the barbarian tribes which took over the empire, Christendom, the Crusades & the Papacy, the rise of England & France as nation states, the new Islamic Arabic Empire and the survival of the Roman Empire in the east. If you want to understand the foundations of modern Europe you need to go further back than the Enlightenment & the Renaissance. And that is just what Madden does here. Lecture titles from the PDF below :

1. The End of an Empire and the Beginning of the World
2. The Empire Strikes Back: Justinian I and the Reconquest of the West
3. Storm in the East: The Rise of Islam
4. The New Masters of Rome: The Popes
5. A New Empire: The Carolingians
6. Devastation Again: The New Invasions of Europe
7. To Reform and Rebuild: The Eleventh-Century Reform Movement
8. The Clash of Church and State: The Investiture Controversy
9. The Crusades
10. Growing Kingdoms: England and France
11. The Rise and Fall of the Papal Monarchy
12. Europe Asunder: The Avignon Papacy and the Great Schism
13. The Hundred Years War
14. Europe Stands Alone: The Fall of Constantinople

  • The Empire Must Die

  • Russia's Revolutionary Collapse, 1900 - 1917
  • By: Mikhail Zygar
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 22 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21

The window between two equally stifling autocracies - the imperial family and the communists - was open only briefly, in the last couple of years of the 19th century until the end of WWI, by which time the revolution was in full fury. From the last years of Tolstoy until the death of the Tsar and his family, however, Russia experimented with liberalism and cultural openness. Novelists and playwrights blossomed and political ideas were swapped in coffee houses.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Chapter Titles from Kindle

  • By Lord Peridot on 31-07-18

Chapter Titles from Kindle

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 31-07-18

An excellent & very interesting account of the Russian Revolution & the atmosphere of the late Russian empire written by a distinguished contemporary Russian, Mikhail Zygar, one of the many experts interviewed in the Putin Files, available on youtube. Beware though, this book is unavoidably complicated! Here are chapter titles from the printed book. Sadly Audible doesnt provide them. And there are several audio chapters per actual chapter.

Ch. 1 Leo Tolstoy becomes a symbol of the fight against the regime and the main ideologist of the opposition
Ch. 2 Sergei Witte fails to stop Russia from invading China and seizing Beijing
Ch. 3 Jews go on the war path: Mikhail Gotz and Gregory Gershuni create the most powerful opposition party in Russia
Ch. 4 Liberals come into fashion: Peter Struve and Pavel Milyukov become the most popular politicians in the country

Ch. 5 Empress Alexandra and Dowager Empress Maria argue over who will be mistress of the palace and of Russia
Ch. 6 Russia gets a new leader of popular protest: his name is Georgy Gapon
Ch. 7 Black-Hundreder Alexander Dubrovin creates the first Russian party of the state, and oppositioner Maxim Gorky asks the West to stop funding Russia
Ch. 8 Pyotr Stolypin and Dmitriy Trepov suggest two different ways of reforming Russia

Ch. 9 Art fan Sergei Diaghilev and religious fanatic Sergei Trufanov (Iliodor) try to stay independent from the state and even use it to their advantage
Ch. 10 Millionaires Alexander Guchkov and Pavel Ryabushinsky try to engage big business in managing the country
Ch. 11 Grigory Rasputin becomes the most powerful kleptocrat and the most hated pacifist in Russia
Ch. 12 There is a second leader of popular protest in Russia: his name is Alexander Kerensky

Ch. 13 Irakli Tsereteli tries to turn Russia into a parliamentary democracy and Vladimir Lenin stands in his way
Ch. 14 Leon Trotsky and Lev Kamenev don’t wish for a Bolshevik revolt anymore, since they believe it to be completely unnecessary

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • War, Geopolitics, and History

  • Conflict in the Middle East
  • By: Robert Fisk
  • Narrated by: Noam Chomsky
  • Length: 1 hr and 38 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21

A talk by Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent for the London Independent and the author of Challenging Empire and the Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East. Introduced by Noam Chomsky. Recorded live on April 9, 2006, at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What's really going on

  • By Lord Peridot on 28-07-18

What's really going on

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-07-18

This book is an extended lecture by Robert Fisk presented to a live & clearly knowledgeable audience. There's an interesting 20 minute Q&A session at the end & an introduction by Noam Chomsky. Fisks speaks about his war time reporting in the Middle East and draws interesting parallels between the current American interference & attempts at domination on the one hand & on the other the imperial adventures of Britain & Rome in the same arena. Despite the dreadful suffering of the people in the Middle East & his own direct experience of the horror & danger, Fisk delivers his lecture in a cheerful & brisk manner. Don't bother resding the NY or London Times if you want to understand what's going on in the world, listen to this lecture & read his book.

  • The Modern Scholar: Medieval Mysteries

  • The History Behind the Myths of the Middle Ages
  • By: Thomas F. Madden
  • Narrated by: Thomas F. Madden
  • Length: 4 hrs and 10 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4

The Middle Ages is not only a period of Romance, but of legends, tales, and mysteries. In this course, Professor Thomas F. Madden guides listeners through the most famous and enduring narratives of medieval Europe. Beginning with King Arthur, Professor Madden peels back layers of exaggeration and fiction to lay bare the historical basis for the mythical king.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Myths dispelled

  • By Lord Peridot on 20-07-18

Myths dispelled

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-07-18

Prof. Madden has a quiet, expressive way of delivering his lectures which makes them a pleasure to listen to & easy to learn from. This is an amusing short set of lectures which makes for an entertaing diversion. None the less, the Prof. treats each myth to a proper historical review, considering the evidence & motives of those who have repeated & elaborated these myths. Much of the blame seems to lie with writers of the Enlightenment who wished to put down the people of Medieval times as being superstitious dimwits. The myths were then further enshrined in the popular imagination through the romantic writers of the C19th. To take one example. Did people really think the earth was flat before Columbus discovered America? The answer is an emphatic No. The real question about these myths is how did they arise. And you will find the answers here.