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Audiobooks History

‘The Liberation of Paris’

The Liberation of Paris is a gripping book that is packed full of interesting details about Nazi-occupied Paris and its last commander Dietrich von Choltitz.

Dietrich v. Choltitz – Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R63712 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE via Wikimedia Commons

At the end of WWII, Adolf Hitler ordered Choltitz to hold Paris, but if that wasn’t possible, to destroy it. Although General Choltitz had been very loyal to Hitler, he could not bring himself to obliterate the City of Light. He ultimately surrendered Paris to French forces on August 25, 1944. He’s been called the “Saviour of Paris” for preventing its destruction.

After his surrender, Choltitz was held for the remainder of the war in London and the United States and was ultimately released from captivity in 1947. He died in Baden-Baden in 1966.

The author of this exceptional book was the distinguished political scientist and biographer Jean Edward Smith. Smith’s work includes highly regarded biographies of Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He died on September 1, 2019 at the age of 86.

The audiobook is ably narrated by Fred Sanders, who has narrated many fine audiobooks including Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.

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Audiobooks

’21 Lessons for the 21st Century’

Yuval Noah Harari is a history professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But he’s no ordinary history professor. His current research focuses on big picture questions including:

  • What’s the relationship between history and biology?
  • Does history have a direction?
  • Have people become happier over time?

Harari does not tackle easy questions and always has something thoughtful to say. Only time will tell if he’s right.

Bill Gates included Harari’s book entitled, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century on a list of five books he loved in 2018. Gates found it offered “a helpful framework for processing the news and thinking about the challenges we face.”

Harari helped me put the day-to-day news in context, especially on the topic of the degree to which automation will affect the job market. Harari believes that artificial intelligence will have an enormous impact on the job market. For example, he argues that artificial intelligence will replace doctors in diagnosing common ailments.

The book helped me to think about the forces at work and the impact they will have on the world. To me, that’s more important than the accuracy of specific predictions.

The audiobook is ably narrated by Derek Perkins, who is British but now lives in Boston. He still sounds quite British. I found his narration easy to follow.

If you’d like to see what Professor Harari is like, he gave a one hour talk at Google in 2018:

Categories
Audiobooks History

‘An Officer and a Spy’

Before listening to An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, I knew only the broad outline of the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal that divided France from from 1894 until 1906. The twists and turns during this 12-year period are amazing and exciting. It is sometimes hard to believe this all really happened. Émile Zola’s 1898 open letter to the President of France accusing the French government of antisemitism was bold and courageous.

This is historical fiction but Robert Harris’s writing is based upon through research. The book has a lot of detail which added to my enjoyment. As a result of this detail, I felt as though I was actually in France.

I enjoyed learning about an important chapter of French history filled with intrigue. The ending is amazing and left me wanting more, despite the length of the audiobook — a little over 16 hours.

The audiobook is narrated by David Rintoul, an accomplished Scottish actor. His intonation and pronunciation are exceptional and added greatly to my enjoyment of the audiobook.