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  • The Romanovs: 1613-1918

  • By: Simon Sebag Montefiore
  • Narrated by: Simon Russell Beale
  • Length: 28 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 488
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 440
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 435

The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world's surface. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world's greatest empire? And how did they lose it all? This is the intimate story of 20 tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic content and narration

  • By H L Condliffe on 03-06-16

Very well read, great book on Romanov history

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

Reviewed: 21-01-19

Excellent book, the narrator was, of course, amazing. The book itself was excellent and for someone new to Russian history it might serve as an excellent directory for what to research next.
I do however have some slight criticism of the book. First would be the opening few chapters, which contain rather repetitive sentences and points, we must have been told of the romanovs penchant for poison many times.
The other criticism I have is probably slightly undeserved given the title of the book, however I would have liked more about the contemporary events in Russia at the time. Although I don't knock too many points off given it would likely double the length of the book. I also would have liked a little more analysis of court intrigue, I only have a limited knowledge of the romanovs but their court was, as I have been made aware, rather exciting. It seemed however to focus so much on the tsar him/herself than surrounding issues in the court.
My criticisms of the book therefore are probably somewhat unjust and what I should be looking for is individual biographies of the interestong emperors that allow for more detail. I only mention this because I think others picking up the book might want to know this before spending their valuable credits on it.

  • Empress Dowager Cixi

  • The Concubine Who Launched Modern China
  • By: Jung Chang
  • Narrated by: Pik-sen Lim
  • Length: 19 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 126
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 116
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 114

At the age of 16, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor’s numerous concubines. When he died, in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China - behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engaging insight into 19th Century China

  • By Kirstine on 01-02-16

Excellent book - Well Written and Read

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

Reviewed: 09-01-19

The book is fantastic at covering Chinese history from ~1840 to the fall of the Qing Dynasty.
It's analysis of Cixi is balanced and thorough, correcting many historical misnomers and giving credit where credit is due, supported by ample evidence. For anyone interested in chinese history this book is a must.

The reader of the book is clear, well spoken, and has a good pace. I would listen to a book by the reader and by the writer again.

  • The Real North Korea

  • Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia
  • By: Andrei Lankov
  • Narrated by: Steven Roy Grimsley
  • Length: 10 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 62
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54

Andrei Lankov has gone where few outsiders have ever been. A native of the former Soviet Union, he lived as an exchange student in North Korea in the 1980s. He has studied it for his entire career, using his fluency in Korean and personal contacts to build a rich, nuanced understanding. In The Real North Korea, Lankov substitutes cold, clear analysis for the overheated rhetoric surrounding this opaque police state.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Really quite good

  • By Martin S. on 26-03-17

Excellently read, excellently written

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

Reviewed: 27-11-18

Loved it, finished it quickly and with great interest. The narrator is very good, would definitely listen to more. The author is also brilliant and would love to hear more from him.

  • The Thirty Years War

  • By: C. V. Wedgwood
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 19 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 65
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 55
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 53

Initially, the Thirty Years War was precipitated in 1618 by religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics in the Holy Roman Empire. But the conflict soon spread beyond religion to encompass the internal politics and balance of power within the Empire, and then later to the other European powers. By the end, it became simply a dynastic struggle between Bourbon France and Habsburg Spain. And almost all of it was fought out in Germany. Entire regions were depopulated and destroyed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • More poetry than history

  • By Lord Peridot on 07-05-18

The best book and a good narrator

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

Reviewed: 05-11-18

First of all, Wedgwood is incredible. The book is not only incredibly accessible and interesting, but also deeply analytical and informative. The best I've read/listened to on the subject.

The narrator has been the subject of criticism in the comments. I don't feel this is entirely deserved. He is very dramatic which at first can be a touch jarring, however, once you are a few hours in to it, his reading lends an excellent feel to the gravity of certain situations. Particularly once the war really picks up steam.

I can not recommend this highly enough.

  • The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

  • By: Patrick N. Allitt, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Patrick N. Allitt
  • Length: 18 hrs and 9 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 264
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 244
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 242

What were the forces that thrust the British Empire to its extraordinary position of greatness and then just as powerfully drove it into decline? And why is nearly every nation on earth, in one way or another, the consequence of the British Empire?In these 36 lectures, Professor Allitt leads you through four centuries of British power, innovation, influence, and, ultimately, diminishment-four profound centuries that literally remade the world and bequeathed the complex global legacy that continues to shape your everyday life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A pleasure to listen to.

  • By michael frost on 17-02-17

Well read, comprehensive and non-partisan

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

Reviewed: 03-10-18

Allitt is a phenomenal lecturer and his series is a fantastic comprehensive overview from start to finish of the British Empire. I would also say he does so in a fair and unbiased manner. The source book that's provided with the audiobook includes many avenues for extra study as well as a written copy of many of the references used by Allitt in some of the wonderful tales from the period he throws in. Can not recommend highly enough.