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By Frank on 08-12-09
A 5-Star Book Injured by the Narrator
The *book* "Nixonland" is fascinating. Though one can quibble about some of Perlstein's choices (relatively little space devoted to the 1960 election compared to, e.g., Nixon's role in the 1966 Republican midterm-election resurgence), the details about seemingly minor politics and politicians, many now largely historical footnotes (Calif. Gov. Pat Brown; N.Y. Mayor John Lindsay; Illinois Sen. Charles Percy) are a kind of Rorschach of the politics in the 1960s. And that minute detail is what, ultimately, explains why many folks who supported Kennedy in 1960 and Johnson in 1964 had come, by 1968 and, especially 1972, to vote for Nixon in droves.
Richard Nixon is the main character, of course, in all his bottomless pathology -- smart; conniving; petty; crafty; conflicted; envious. But this book tells the story of this talented yet deeply flawed man against the vast canvas of his era, showing how easily history could have taken a different path.
But like several other reviewers, I found this *edition* wanting because of the narrator's careless pronunciation -- I counted at least a dozen relatively well-known folks (including Dean Acheson, Nguyen Cao Ky, and Tom Huston, infamous today for the "Huston Plan" that presaged Watergate) whose names he botched, along many place-names of Vietnam (e.g., Ton Son Nhut Air Base). There are reams of audio news reports from that era against which contemporary pronunciations of those names can be checked -- it's not as if this book were about life in the 1850s, after all. For those who lived through the era, the constant mispronunciations were both annoying and distracting. Overall, the book itself rates a "5" -- but this version loses a notch because of the narrator's failure to "fact check" pronunciations easily accessible in the public record -- which are the coin of the realm in a spoken word edition.
30 of 32 people found this review helpful
By Jonnie on 02-22-11
Great book, Great Narrator...Yes it's true!
This was overall a great book and a great listen. I was put off initially by all of the negative reviews about the narration. They were true in that the narrator mispronounced a lot of words. Yes, I agree it is distracting and yes, where is the editing that should have caught these gaffs. If you can set aside the mispronunciations the narrator did an outstanding job. My favorite was the pronunciation for pseudo. He pronounced it sway-doe. It took me just a bit to figure that one out. Just see it as a game and get beyond the mistakes. Otherwise the writing is very engrossing and the narration is one of the best I have experienced (with the caveat about mispronounced words). Definitely 5 stars.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful