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Keith D. Brown

UK
  • 6
  • reviews
  • 28
  • helpful votes
  • 8
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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 466
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 419
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 413

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

Fascinating and dramatic

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

Reviewed: 31-03-17

I'd like to address some of the criticisms other reviewers have made of this book. I really can't understand the negative reception to Simon's narration that I've encountered here. The writing style used in the book is very dramatic for example Montefiore divides the narrative into plays and scenes and in the memorable introduction he contrasts tense scenes at the beginning and end of the Romanov dynasty. A classical actor is thus the perfect choice for the book's reader. Suffice to say most people will know Simon Russel Beale's work on the stage and will know what they are getting. For me his work is perfectly poised, his phrasing musical and he is always clear.

The question of the torture and cruelty cannot of course be a criticism but it is very graphic for about the first third of the book. After Catherine the Great things are more civilised but the final very detailed and drawn out section of Nikolai II and family's murder is an absolute bloodbath.

In some ways such a history which focuses on a dynasty over 3 centuries will have a huge cast of characters so some effort is needed, but a quick check on Wikipedia soon gets you back up to speed when you get lost. There are lots of familiar historical figures, Frederick the great, Napoleon and the Bolsheviks and seeing everything from the Russian side can be very interesting.

  • PostCapitalism

  • A Guide to Our Future
  • By: Paul Mason
  • Narrated by: Paul Mason
  • Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 339
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 301
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 291

From Paul Mason, the award-winning Channel 4 presenter, PostCapitalism is a guide to our era of seismic economic change and how we can build a more equal society. Over the past two centuries or so, capitalism has undergone continual change - economic cycles that lurch from boom to bust - and has always emerged transformed and strengthened. Surveying this turbulent history, Paul Mason wonders whether today we are on the brink of a change so big, so profound, that this time capitalism itself has reached its limits.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A fascinating perspective on economic history...

  • By Peter on 01-02-17

History and future of the economics of the left

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-12-16

Paul Mason delivers an interesting history of the economic theory of the left as well as provocative ideas for the future. The central premise, that climate change, automation and demographics needs a new, post capitalist system seems sound although many of his ideas could not be implemented by a democratically elected party in the current climate. The only criticism with the author's generally clear and empassioned delivery is he often stumbles and repeats some phrases which surely need to be edited out. Perhaps Penguin sent the wrong version?

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Alan Bennett: Plays

  • BBC Radio Dramatisations
  • By: Alan Bennett
  • Narrated by: John Gielgud, Maggie Smith, Patricia Routledge
  • Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 175
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 160
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 162

A unique collection of 12 full-cast BBC Radio productions of plays by Alan Bennett. The titles are: 40 Years On, A Visit from Miss Prothero, Say Something Happened, Kafka's Dick, Two in Torquay, The Madness of George III, The History Boys, An Englishman Abroad, A Question of Attribution, The Lady in the Van, Cocktail Sticks and The Last of the Sun.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Plays by Alan Bennett

  • By Edwin on 29-09-16

Bennett Bliss

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

Reviewed: 07-08-16

Fans of Alan's work will need little prompting to download this collection of radio plays broadcast on Radio 4. There is probably something new here for everyone, as well as something very familiar that will bring much pleasure on being reheard. A more serious work "forty years on" not all of which I was able to follow begins the collection with the cast including John Gielgud. There are several plays featuring Dame Thora Hird more reminiscent of the "Talking Heads" series of monologues. One of Alan's hits, "the history boys" works very well in the Radio adaptation although I've seen it on stage and the film with the familiar cast includes James Cordon and Richard Griffiths. The final autobiographical pieces centred around his parents and feature Alan himself as well as Alex Jennings playing 'him'. Thinking of my own mother who was also a product of North Yorkshire trying to adapt to Southern sophistication Bennet's work brought me close to tears.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

Every Day Is Mother's Day cover art
  • Every Day Is Mother's Day

  • By: Hilary Mantel
  • Narrated by: Sandra Duncan
  • Length: 8 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 67
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 60

Evelyn and Muriel Axon, mother and daughter, lead a haunted existence. Objects of horror to their neighbours, they evade or terrorise any social worker who crosses their path. Inside their house, they pursue a covert persecution of each other, shrinking from the unseen occupants of their spare room. But change is in the air… Every Day is Mother's Day is a merciless comedy of colliding lives: of sex, death, madness, adultery and the social services.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Funny and thought provoking

  • By Keith D. Brown on 03-07-15

Funny and thought provoking

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

Reviewed: 03-07-15

There seem to be many Hillary Mantels: the present tense histories of Thomas Cromwell and the French revolution, and these character studies of the socially dysfunctional, like Beyond Black and this one. The story is cleverly constructed, and centers around a mother and daughter of interest to the welfare system who fall coincidentally into the path of an unhappy teacher and his unexciting wife.

The reading is excellent, very well characterised and clear, the comedy really brought out by the energy of the delivery.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Waiting for Sunrise cover art
  • Waiting for Sunrise

  • By: William Boyd
  • Narrated by: Roger May
  • Length: 13 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 400
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 281
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 278

Vienna. 1913. Lysander Rief, a young English actor, walks through the city to his first appointment with the eminent psychiatrist, Dr. Bensimon. He is sitting anxiously in the waiting room when an extraordinary woman enters.... Moving from Vienna to London's West End, the battlefields of France, and hotel rooms in Geneva, Waiting for Sunrise is a feverish and mesmerising journey into the human psyche, and a beautifully observed portrait of wartime Europe.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Writer or Reader?

  • By Julian E. Boyce on 05-04-12

Literate thriller

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-06-12

Much of the publicity for this novel centred around the fact that events take place in Freud's Vienna but in fact this only accounts for the first section after which the plot heads into Graham Greene, John le Carre territory. It consequently wasn't what I had expected, but I did enjoy it and thought the writer could stand comparison with these two masters of the spy genre. He creates a central character who is also a professional actor, and this talent enables him to get out of a couple of sticky situations. I don't think this has been done before: the spy who can also act.The author might consider a series of novels about this character as it's a good trick. A sort of 007 who takes on a different persona as his mission requires.

I digress, this is a really good writer, cleverly changing pace and the order of events in a pleasingly non-linear way. The psychoanalytic section gives the main character real depth as we saw him in a completely unguarded state visiting events from his childhood. The plot becomes quite complex but I think I understood it, and the denouement is thrilling and again stands comparison with Le Carre.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Solar

  • By: Ian McEwan
  • Narrated by: Roger Allam
  • Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 422
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 152
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 150

Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. A compulsive womaniser, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Roald Dahl meets Martin Amis

  • By Martin on 07-10-10

Man made global warming

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-04-10

Like a coordinated air strike, Ian McEwan tries to reach many different targets in his new novel. As the interview with the writer included with the audio-book reveals, solar was going to be from the very beginning a novel about global warming. However although McEwan is a known proselytizer in this area, the characters in the novel are equivocal, until self interest and nothing more causes them to change sides. The central character of the book is a Nobel prize winning physicist who is trading on his former reputation both in the lecture room and in his personal life, and it is in the latter area in which he has problems as the book opens with his latest wife conducting her own extra marital experiments. The cleverly constructed story includes a great amount of accurate detail about contemporary physics as well as borrowing elements used in thrillers. The plot is an international as a James Bond novel, moving from suburban home county intrigues, a polar expedition, a South American experimental site and a North American trailer park. The more enjoyable sections would be the unintentional consequences of being caught short in sub zero temperatures, and a naive comment about gender predispositions leading to vilification in all sections of the press.

Roger Allam is a perfect choice for a reader of this novel. He portrays the worldly, self interested central character extremely well and his voice is well suited to McEwans slightly misanthropic and detached narrative.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful