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The word "epic" is thrown around a lot, especially by publicists. This is a rare case where it is wholly deserved.
I first read "Home Fires" around 15 years ago, discovering a monumental work that is really two ambitious books in one. It is the intimate, multigenerational story of a real American family, which in itself would be no small accomplishment. But then Don Katz uses the family saga as a framework on which he hangs the country's entire postwar social history. There is Vietnam, then folksingers and later rock 'n' roll, drugs, economic turmoil and our migration to the suburbs. It is related in such rich detail that countless throwaway sentences must have taken a week's research apiece.
As a new audiobook all these years later, "Home Fires" seems a new experience, somehow even more substantive and insightful than before. Narrator Joe Barrett weaves his way carefully through the twists and turns of each year, one after another. His voicing of characters is superb. Sure, all the Brooklyn males may sound more or less like Sam Gordon, but Mr. Barrett manages boys and girls, women, singers and prominent figures. His LBJ is passable, and his Richard Nixon pitch-perfect. Like the best of audiobooks, "the read" adds new dimensions to a remarkable work of journalism and literature. It's a long book. Totally worth it.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Because Home Fires is such a deliciously lengthy listen, don't be surprised if you often need to put it aside, because like a box of fine chocolate, it's a treat to be savored. Encompassing a half-century, Donald Katz's rich, magical weaving of history and no-holds-barred biography is seamless in its compelling beauty and complexity. Not one Gordon family member escapes the steady intensity of Katz's burning gaze into his or her life.
Especially those of us Baby Boomers caught in the undertow of the bewildering historical and cultural tsunamis which battered the last half of the 20th century will readily relate to the pain, struggle, confusion, and hope which unceasingly washed over us. Listening to gifted narrator Joe Barrett infuse Katz's masterpiece with knowing, understanding breath is an unexpectedly rare treat no Audible listener should miss, and gaining the added opportunity to hear Ricky Ian Gordon sum up his family's saga could not have been a more fulfilling conclusion.
You'll have yourself to thank for not missing this superlative family saga!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Home Fires to be better than the print version?
yes.. felt as if I was being told the family story (a bit gossipy)
What did you like best about this story?
loved the natural mix of a family story and the historical references and description of the times the family lived in. I like all the characters whose personalities shone through the descriptive narrative
What about the narrators’s performance did you like?
The accent given to each member brought them to life
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
its too long for one sitting but great book
Any additional comments?
loved this and would highly recommend