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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Biography Audiobooks
Most dictionaries agree that a biography is “a written history of a person’s life,” but that definition is inadequate for this collection of superb new and previously reviewed audiobooks that deserve a spot in most collections.
Ava’s Man. By Rick Bragg. Read by the author. Random. 2001. 6hr. abr. 4 cassettes, $25.95 (0-375-41889-X). 5 CDs, $29.95 (0-375-41890-3). 800-726-0600.
Always on the move, desperate for work, and barely one step from disaster, Bragg’s late grandfather, Charlie, was a decent, beloved man. This adoring biography, read in Bragg’s soft, honey-laced southern accent, renders this version as (if not more) powerful than the book.
Catch Me if You Can. By Frank W. Abagnale. Read by Barrett Whitener. Blackstone. 2001. 9hr. unabr. 6 cassettes, $44.95 (0-7861-1968-3). 8 CDs, $64 (0-7861-9757-9). 800-729-2665.
Abagnale was a master flimflam artist, forger, poseur, and ingenious crook whose high living on the wrong side of the law was unknowingly financed by gullible suckers. In this fascinating memoir, ably read by Whitener, listeners may be surprised to find themselves cheering for the scam artist.
Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. By Mark Kurlansky. Read by Richard M. Davidson. Recorded Books. 2001. 8hr. unabr. 6 cassettes, $58 (0-7887-8866-3). 800-638-1304.
An absorbing biography of the underappreciated cod, a fish once central to the economy of many nations. Amazingly, countries have argued and waged wars over cod-fishing rights, and the creature’s availability has affected humankind’s survival. Davidson’s reading is lucid and forthright.
Dante. By R. W. B. Lewis. Read by Grover Gardner. Books on Tape. 2001. 6hr. unabr. 4 cassettes, $32 (0-7366-7036-X). 5 CDs, $40 (0-7366-7142-0). 800-541-5525.
Poet, theologian, and philosopher Dante was haunted by an obsession with the unattainable, mythic Beatrice and perpetually ensnared in church and state politics. Dante’s contemplation of moral imperatives manifests itself in his poetry, particularly The Divine Comedy; portions of which Gardner reads in this revealing biography.
E = mc2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation. By David Bodanis. Read by Dan Cashman. Books on Tape. 2001. 7.5hr. unabr. 5 cassettes, $40 (0-7366-7079-3). 6 CDs, $48 (0-7366-7079-3).
In a patient but never condescending voice, Cashman recounts the ideas that helped Einstein formulate the revolutionary equation, explains the significance of the theory, and outlines its impact on society.
George Harrison: A Tribute. By Geoffrey Guiliano. Read by the author. Random. 2001. 3hr. unabr. 2 cassettes, $18 (0-553-52589-1).
This aptly subtitled recording contains a pastiche of interviews with Harrison, fellow performers, acquaintances, and critics, as well as a brief account of events that helped shape Harrison’s life. Although production clarity varies, this will hardly matter to fans.
John Adams. By David McCullough. Read by Nelson Runger. Recorded Books. 2001. 30.5hr. unabr. 21 cassettes, $139 (0-7887-9472-8).
Eclipsed by the prominence of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and his role in shaping the American republic have often been overlooked. Master storyteller McCullough remedies this oversight in a comprehensive, intriguing biography.
The Life and Works of Chopin. By Jeremy Siepmann. Read by the author. Naxos. 2001. 5hr. unabr. 4 cassettes, $22.98 (9-62634-719-8). 4 CDs, $26.98 (9-62634-219-6). 888-771-9520.
Siepmann’s examination of Frederic Francois Chopin’s (1810-49) life is interspersed with performance segments of Chopin compositions. One of a series of titles focusing on great composers, this recording is irresistible for classical music lovers.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend. By Laura Hillenbrand. Read by Richard M. Davidson. Recorded Books. 2001. 14hr. unabr. 10 cassettes, $94 (0-7887-9642-9).
Homely, overworked, lazy, ornery, and with a tendency toward obesity, thoroughbred Seabiscuit seemed an unlikely candidate for greatness. Remarkably, Seabiscuit became one of the most successful racehorses of all time, as recounted in this equine version of the Cinderella story.
“What Do You Care What Other People Think?” By Richard Feynman. Read by Dan Cashman. Books on Tape. 2001. 7.5hr. unabr. 5 cassettes, $40 (0-7366-7178-1). 6 CDs, $48 (0-7366-7558-2).
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Feynman recounts his life in this insightful “final literary legacy.” Cashman’s conversational reading perfectly suits the memoir, which offers insight and clarity into the self-described “curious character.”
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