And The Armchair Audie Goes To...

In Harm's Way by Doug Stanton is my pick for the 2017 Audie Award in the History/Biography category.

This was a hard decision, but in the end this was the book that stuck with me the longest.

Audie Awards are announced on June 1. Follow @ArmchairAudies on Twitter to see if my pick matches up with the real thing.

UPDATE: The official results are in, and In Harm's Way won the Audie! Congrats to Doug Stanton!

All Audie Award Reviews:

In Harm's Way

Paul McCartney: The Life

A Time to Die

Valiant Ambition

The Year of Lear

[ARMCHAIR AUDIES] The Year of Lear - DNF

My final book for the Armchair Audies was The Year of Lear by James Shapiro. I loved the premise - what was going on in England when a seemingly washed up William Shakespeare came out of no where and wrote three of his best plays (King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra.) I just couldn't slog through this one though. This is a book for Shakespeare scholars, not amateur historians like me. I gave up after about hour 5.

This is my final review in the History/Biography category for the Arm Chair Audies. Check back next week to see who I think should be the winner.

[REVIEW]: Valient Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick

Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick is my 4th review for the Armchair Audies. I'll admit before I even get started that even though I minored in history at a fine liberal arts school, anything to do with war battles goes right through my head. So, there were large parts of this book where my only thought of substance was "Ugh, why is Washington trying so hard to take Trenton?" (I spent a large part of last week on the New Jersey turnpike, and that may have clouded my thoughts a bit.)

HOWEVER, I know a lot of people, like my husband, really enjoy that type of thing. Those parts of this book were very well written, but just not for me. I will seek out more of Nathaniel Philbrick's writing after this one, but won't seek out anything else by any author that includes battles for a long time. I almost DNF this one, but I kept on, and I'm glad I did.

Along the coast of Lake Champlain, an Arnold hang out.

Along the coast of Lake Champlain, an Arnold hang out.

On to the part I liked. This last quarter or so of this book was about Benedict Arnold in comparison to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. My previous knowledge of the two was skin deep. Cherry trees, house tours, wigs, traitors, and that episode of the Brady Bunch where Peter was in a play. That kind of thing. Philbrick goes deeper though to show how two men who were subject to similar circumstances reacted in different ways. If you're into personality studies you will love the last section of this book. Also, I feel like if you are a CEO you should read this book. There's a powerful example here of why you should pay attention to your people.

The narration of this book was very good, and kept things moving even during the battle scenes.

I recommend this audio book to history lovers, CEOs, and anyone who loves to take a deep dive into what makes people tick.

This is my fourth review in the History/Biography category for the Arm Chair Audies. Check back for more reviews, and to see who I think should be the winner.

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REVIEW: A Time To Die by Robert Moore

2017 was a good year for nautical disaster themed audio books. A Time to Die by Robert Moore continued the trend that In Harm's Way started. The blurb tells you the book is about the sinking of the Russian submarine Kursk. You might think you're not interested in Russian submarines, but really, give it a try.

This book blew my mind in a number of unrelated ways. It pushed all of my history, science, conspiracy theory, and human nature loving buttons. I can't even write a coherent review because there were so many divergent paths of awesome. Here are a few bullet points:

  • When you have a submarine designed to avoid detection while at sea it's really hard to locate the sub when/if it sinks.
  • Russia had certain strategies for dealing with the media in 2000 that may sound familiar to you in the year 2017.
  • Russian pronunciations make for a fun audiobook. Great work by the reader.
  • The secrecy of the Russian military during rescue operations is enough to make you want to punch someone.

I would have never listened to this book if it wasn't in my Arm Chair Audies category, but I'm so glad I did. Really, give it a try.

This is my third review in the History/Biography category for the Arm Chair Audies. Check back for more reviews, and to see who I think should be the winner.

REVIEW: In Harm's Way by Doug Stanton (Audiobook)

I didn't think I had heard of the story of the USS Indianapolis, and it's sinking during World War II. Then someone reminded me of the scene in Jaws.

Oh, yikes. That ship.

The audiobook doesn't start with Jaws. It starts with Captain McVay, the ship's commander, and his suicide. In a story that sounds like it belongs on the Podcast Serial we're told Captain McVay was in charge of the USS Indianapolis when it sank, and was court-martialed under some dubious circumstances.

This is one of those books that is non-fiction but reads like fiction. It's a horrific yet inspiring story of men stuck in treacherous water for five days without water, most with just a life vest on to keep them afloat. I mean, imagine being in the water so long that you have time to name the shark that wants to eat you.

By the time you get to the court-martialing, it's almost unbelievable that any body would dare bring to trial a man who went through all of that. They even had the Japanese commander of the submarine that sunk the boat as a witness against Captain McVay. I'll admit to tears of rage over the kitchen sink as I listened.

This is a great book. A powerful book made all the better by a steady narrator. I highly recommend it if you are a fan of other non-fiction World War II narratives such as Unbroken and Boys in the Boat.

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This is my first review in the History/Biography category for the Arm Chair Audies. Check back for more reviews, and to see who I think should be the winner.