American Sketches

  • by Walter Isaacson
  • Narrated by Cotter Smith
  • 9 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

What are the roots of creativity? What makes for great leadership? How do influential people end up rippling the surface of history?In this collection of essays, Walter Isaacson reflects on the lessons to be learned from Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, Hillary and Bill Clinton, and various other interesting characters he has chronicled as a biographer and journalist.The people he writes about have an awesome intelligence, in most cases, but that is not the secret of their success. They had qualities that were even more rare, such as imagination and true curiosity.Isaacson reflects on how he became a writer, the lessons he learned from various people he met, and the challenges he sees for journalism in the digital age.He also offers loving tributes to his hometown of New Orleans, which both before and after Hurricane Katrina offered many of the ingredients for a creative culture, and to the Louisiana novelist Walker Percy, who was an early mentor. In an anecdotal and personal way, Isaacson describes the joys of the "so-called writing life" and the way that tales about the lives of fascinating people can enlighten our own lives.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not Really Sketches

This book would be more honestly titled "Walter Isaacson's political opinions about everything". There are sketches in the book but only as context for Walter to opine about current events and how he would have done things had he been king of the world. You won't be surprised to learn that he thinks George Bush is really evil and Obama might be the Messiah. Maybe that is the intended slant for sales purposes. Well read, however.
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- DAVID

A Better Title: Isaacson's Opinions

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

It was doomed from the start.


What was most disappointing about Walter Isaacson’s story?

Title was very misleading.


What aspect of Cotter Smith’s performance would you have changed?

The material he had to read.


You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Too few to mention.


Any additional comments?

Enjoyed the Jobs bio, but Sketches was a waste.

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- Larry Newell

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-24-2009
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio