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Volume 1 of The Last Lion is one of the top five Audible books among the hundreds I have experienced. Manchester's scholarship is astounding, and the story of this great man's life and times is endlessly fascinating. That much remains true in Volume 2, but the book is tragically diminished by the narration of Richard Brown.
Frederick Davidson, the narrator of Volume I, was absolutely perfect. When Manchester quoted Churchill, Davidson spoke in Churchill's own voice. It was as if someone had recorded Churchill, himself, for each statement. Churchill's humor and emotion come through as if he were speaking directly to the listener. Brown, on the other hand, cannot even begin to imitate Churchill's intonation and cadence, much less the subtler meanings behind the words. As a matter of fact, Brown would have been better off, as would the listener, if he had not even tried. If he had just read Manchester's words, it would not have come off as so, well, amateurish. The only thing Brown's rendition of Churchill and Churchill himself have in common is an English accent.
It is deeply disappointing. I am hoping that I can convince myself to finish this volume, simply for the historical information it can provide. However, that's a far cry from the way I felt about Volume I, when I could scarcely force myself to turn off my Nano early enough to get a decent night's sleep. I feel like a kid who got stiffed by Santa. I just don't get it. Whoever decided that ANYONE other than Frederick Davidson should render this work needs his (her?) head examined.
45 of 45 people found this review helpful
I am writing this review for both volumes and putting it in both places. This is a well narrated story written by what has been described as the best biographer of the 20th Century about a man who was perhaps the greatest man to live in the 20th Century. What's not to like?
Both volumes have advantages over the other (listed below), but bottom line is that both are marvelous works. I doubt too many will be able to read Volume I without soon proceeding to Volume II. Volume I pluses include a better narrator (***** vs ****) (I was impressed with his mature Churchill voice and amazed that he started with a good child Churchill and gradually aged him into the famous voice we all love!), a more narrative/chronological layout as opposed to more topical, and illumination of the transition of the Victorian age through WWI and up to the Depression. This is a time of which I knew little relative to what came before and after. Volume II has the obvious advantage of fleshing out the rise of Hitler and explaining how the Appeasers were a product of their times.
I know it will take close to 80 hours to listen to both, but the time will fly and you will wish you could listen to Volume III, which was unfortunately never written. Both books are great though I slightly preferred the first volume.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful