I'm thrilled to be partnering with AudioFile magazine in celebrating the editors' picks for the year's best audiobooks in biography and history.
The editors tapped ten audiobooks as deserving special recognition. I'm introducing you to half of them today and will highlight the rest tomorrow.
To see the winners in all the categories, visit AudioFile's website, where you can enter their 2016 Best Sweepstakes for a chance to win six months of free audiobooks from Audiobooks.com.
Here are the first five editor's picks for the best 2016 audiobooks in biography and history, with extracts from the publishers' summaries. Click the book's title to read AudioFile's review. Check back tomorrow for five more excellent audiobooks in this category. Follow hashtag #BESTaudiobooks2016 on all your social media for the rest of the year's top audiobooks.
American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin, Read by Paul Michael (Random House Audio): If you remember the 1970s, then you remember when the top news story was the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, her role in a bank robbery, and the trial that determined her fate.
The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the craziness of the times (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s). Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst and re-creates her melodramatic trial. American Heiress examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors crusade. Or did she?
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and read by Robin Miles (Harper Audio): News coverage of the early days of the American space program concentrated on the astronauts and the male scientists and engineers, but much of the real work was done by unsung heroes.
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as human computers used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South's segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America's aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam's call.
Katrina: After the Flood by Gary Rivlin and read by Johnny Heller (Blackstone Audio): Most of us remember the terrible sights and stories of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, but few of know about the people who were involved, for better or worse, in dealing with the aftermath of the storm.
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana on August 29, 2005 journalist Gary Rivlin traces the storm's immediate damage, the city of New Orleans's efforts to rebuild itself, and the storm's lasting effects not just on the city's geography and infrastructure but on the psychic, racial, and social fabric of one of this nation's great cities. . . . This book traces the stories of New Orleanians of all stripes--politicians and business owners, teachers and bus drivers, poor and wealthy, black and white--as they confront the aftermath of one of the great tragedies of our age and reconstruct, change, and in some cases abandon a city that's the soul of this nation.Kill 'Em and Leave James McBride, read by Dominic Hoffman (Random House Audio): The subtitle of this audiobook reveals its content: "Searching for James Brown and the American Soul."
National Book Award winner James McBride goes in search of the real James Brown after receiving a tip that promises to uncover the man behind the myth. His surprising journey illuminates not only our understanding of this immensely troubled, misunderstood, and complicated soul genius but the ways in which our cultural heritage has been shaped by Brown's legacy. . . . McBride's travels take him to forgotten corners of Brown's never-before-revealed history . . . and interviews Brown's most influential nonmusical creation, his adopted son, the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman and read by Jonathan Keeble (Recorded Books): Here's a biography that should need no introduction.
Since the age of twenty-one, Paul McCartney has lived one of the ultimate rock-n-roll lives played out on the most public of stages. Now, Paul's story is told by rock music's foremost biographer, with McCartney's consent and access to family members and close friends who have never spoken on the record before. . . . This is the first definitive account of Paul's often troubled partnership with John Lennon, his personal trauma after the Beatles' breakup, and his subsequent struggle to get back to the top with Wings. . . . Packed with new information and critical insights, Paul McCartney will be the definitive biography of a musical legend.
About AudioFile magazine
AudioFile magazine reviews and recommends audiobooks reaching broad audiences with print and digital editions; E-newsletters; a blog and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, YouTube). The respected, independent voice for audiobooks since 1992, with than 40,000 reviews of audiobooks available at AudioFileMagazine.com. Fifty new titles reviewed each week.