The Partly Cloudy Patriot

  • by Sarah Vowell
  • Narrated by Sarah Vowell, Conan O'Brien, Seth Green, Stephen Colbert
  • 5 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell travels through the American past and, in doing so, investigates the dusty, bumpy roads of her own life. In this insightful and funny collection of personal stories Vowell - widely hailed for her inimitable narratives on public radio's This American Life - ponders a number of curious questions: Why is she happiest when visiting the sites of bloody struggles like Salem or Gettysburg? Why do people always inappropriately compare themselves to Rosa Parks? Why is a bad life in sunny California so much worse than a bad life anywhere else? What is it about the Zen of foul shots? And, in the title piece, why must doubt and internal arguments haunt the sleepless nights of the true patriot? Her essays confront a wide range of subjects, themes, icons, and historical moments: Ike, Teddy Roosevelt, and Bill Clinton; Canadian Mounties and German filmmakers; Tom Cruise and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; twins and nerds; the Gettysburg Address, the State of the Union, and George W. Bush's inauguration.
The result is a teeming and engrossing audiobook, capturing Vowell's memorable wit and her keen social commentary.
This audiobook is read by Sarah Vowell, Conan O'Brien, Seth Green, Stephen Colbert, David Cross, Paul Begala, Michael Chabon, and Norman Lear.

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What the Critics Say

"This is a humorous, insightful, and informative look at one individual's sense of patriotism." (Booklist)
"Droll, intelligent, and persuasive." (Entertainment Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

One of the best surprises on AUDIBLE.COM!!

I usually only listen to the radio for traffic reports so I was not familiar with Sarah Vowell when I purchased this audiobook. I was impressed with the consistency of the reviews and figured I'd take a chance. I only wish Sarah Vowell had many more books to listen to as this was so enjoyable I sat in my driveway finishing one of the 'stories'.

The moronic review of Vowell as a 'female Al Franken' reveals more ignorance on the part of the reviewer than insight into Vowell's politics. But if you think anyone who is not a fan of George Bush is Al Franken (a.k.a. the Antichrist) perhaps you won't like Vowell. She has her own very distinct voice --and her approach to politics comes via a Montana childhood, a gun-loving family, and very unusual taste in vacations for a person of her age. The comparison with Franken would be comical if it weren't so pathetic. Other than the fact that both authors are clearly more intelligent than average--and funnier--only their dislike of Bush unites them . I hardly think one needs to be 'warned' against listening to such a thoughtful and reasoned presentation of ideas--unless your mind is already atrophied and closed.

Sarah Vowell does in fact have an unusual vocal quality--a sort of tiny, sharp voice that makes me think she must be short and delicate-boned; but in fact I loved listening to her voice reading her book. Her thinking is quick but she presents slowly and methodically and builds up to conclusions that somehow seem ineluctable once you've heard them--though she is nothing if not quirky.

She talks a lot about visiting historical sites and landmarks...which are quite a passion of hers. It is this aspect of the book which gives her writing its distinctive voice and flavor.

If you can expand your mind to encompass more kinds of Patriots than the 'my country right or wrong' type, don't miss Sarah Vowell's 'Partly Cloudy Patriot'!!
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- Doggy Bird

A great listen

Sarah's a bit of a liar; she was not, in fact, the biggest music nerd in high school; at best, she was fourth or fifth in line for that distinction. But aside from that inaccuracy, this audio presentation of her popular essay collection is absolutely delightful. Whether her voice smacks of Lisa Simpson (other reviewer's comparison) or Abe Lincoln (Sarah's own conjecture), her timbre and pacing instantly recall that warm sense of comfort and ease we get each year when Linus starts reciting the story of Christmas to Charlie Brown. Regardless of whether you agree with her politics, this commentary is intelligent, the thoughts insightful, and the timing & prose easily skip between "poetic" and "hilarious".

Sarah has apparently Hit the Big Time, bringing along Conan O'Brian, Seth Green, and... Norman Lear?!?... to provide additional voices. Fortunately, the high-powered talent never overwhelms or distracts from Sarah's content, and perhaps only Conan COULD deliver the "F'ing Meade..." line appropriately. But the real stars of Sarah's guest list are They Might Be Giants, contributing not just funny little transition ditties, but some truly catchy songs as well (Gallows's Hill & Andersonville may seem the obvious favorite, but Pop-A-Shot's hook just won't leave my head...).

Kudos and Thanks, Sarah, on/for this wonderful audio presentation of your work. It's nice to hear an author and publisher taking the time to make their audio book something unique and special.
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- Erik

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-26-2003
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio