Monday, March 3, 2008

Books That Stay With You #2

My husband and I have become devoted fans of books on CD. Five summers ago, as we drove to Minnesota, we listened to the recorded version of  The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974, which is why I was persuaded, despite my resistance and skepticism, to listen to this historical novel about the Battle of Gettysburg. Superb!  It's a recreation of the battle, over a period of four days, seen through the minds of  Generals Robert E. Lee,  Pickett, Longstreet and the Union Col. Chamberlain, a Bowdoin professor from Maine. It begins with the Confederacy winning but at the pinnacle of the story, a desperate charge from the South turns into a slaughter and Union soldiers win their first significant battle at great cost, creating the turning point in the Civil War.  The personalities, nobility and struggles of these true heroes was compelling, particularly the remarkable Col. Chamberlain. He was memorable for his wisdom, military skill, leadership and ability to inspire.  The book is not filled with too many logistical details or characters and is well crafted.  I still remember my anticipation and eagerness to hear each chapter as we traveled.  It is an excellent and compulsively readable book, or certainly one to listen to on a journey.  Famed Broadway singer/actor George Hearn was a wonderful reader, enhancing the characters so richly described in the writing. It did not hurt that his voice reminded me of the line once quoted about the actor Richard Burton. "He could read the telephone book and make it sound fascinating!" Consider fine books on CD's  on your next car trip.

1 comment:

  1. From my own experience, two other good recordings for long driving trips are Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope and Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian. After driving from NJ to CA I sat in my driveway for the final chapter of M&C after the full 15 CDs!