Yesterday I announced my partnership with AudioFile magazine to present their editors' choices for best 2016 audiobooks in the category Biography and History. In that post, I featured the first five audiobooks, and today I'm finishing out the category with five more fabulous titles.
I case you missed it, you can see the winners in all the categories by visiting AudioFile's website, where you can also enter their 2016 Best Sweepstakes for a chance to win six months of free audiobooks from Audiobooks.com.
I'm using the same format as I did yesterday: Here are the final 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 and follow hashtag #BESTaudiobooks2016 on all your social media to find your next great listen in a broad range of genres.
The Rise of the Rocket Girls by Natalia Holt and read by Erin Bennett (Hachette Audio): Apparently this is the year of learning about the role women played in the U.S. space program. No rockets without the (women) math wizards to guide the research.
In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn't turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible. . . . Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women--known as "human computers"--who broke the boundaries of both gender and science.
SPQR by Mary Beard and read by Phyllida Nash (Recorded Books): So much of what we know of Ancient Rome is buried in myths and legends, such as the murder of Julian Caesar and the fiddling of Nero. Here is the true story.
Ancient Rome was an imposing city even by modern standards, a sprawling imperial metropolis of more than a million inhabitants, a "mixture of luxury and filth, liberty and exploitation, civic pride and murderous civil war" that served as the seat of power for an empire that spanned from Spain to Syria. Yet how did all this emerge from what was once an insignificant village in central Italy? In S.P.Q.R., world-renowned classicist Mary Beard narrates the unprecedented rise of a civilization that even two thousand years later still shapes many of our most fundamental assumptions about power, citizenship, responsibility, political violence, empire, luxury, and beauty.The Arabs by Eugene Rogan and read by Derek Perkins (Tantor Audio): In the current political climate (no matter what side of the aisle you reside), it's imperative to have a better understanding of our friends, our neighbors, and yes sometimes our foes. Here's one place to start.
In this definitive history of the modern Arab world, award-winning historian Eugene Rogan draws extensively on Arab sources and texts to place the Arab experience in its crucial historical context for the first time. Tracing five centuries of Arab history, Rogan reveals that there was an age when the Arabs set the rules for the rest of the world. Today, however, the Arab world's sense of subjection to external powers carries vast consequences for both the region and Westerners who attempt to control it.
The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro and read by Robert Fass (Tanotor Audio): Almost everyone has read a Shakespeare play or seen a movie adaptation, but many fewer of us know about the personal and cultural influences on the Bard's work.
In the years leading up to 1606, since the death of Queen Elizabeth and the arrival in England of her successor, King James of Scotland, Shakespeare's great productivity had ebbed, and it may have seemed to some that his prolific genius was a thing of the past. But that year, at age forty-two, he found his footing again, finishing a play he had begun the previous autumn, King Lear, then writing two other great tragedies, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. The Year of Lear sheds light on these three great tragedies by placing them in the context of their times, while also allowing us greater insight into how Shakespeare was personally touched by such events as a terrible outbreak of plague and growing religious divisions. For anyone interested in Shakespeare, this is an indispensable book.Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick and read by Scott Brick (Penguin Audio): George Washington and Benedict Arnold are household names in the United States, but for very different reasons. What led each man to his fate and choices?
In September 1776, the vulnerable Continental Army under an unsure George Washington (who had never commanded a large force in battle) evacuates New York after a devastating defeat by the British Army. Three weeks later, near the Canadian border, one of his favorite generals, Benedict Arnold, miraculously succeeds in postponing the British naval advance down Lake Champlain that might have ended the war. Four years later, as the book ends, Washington has vanquished his demons and Arnold has fled to the enemy after a foiled attempt to surrender the American fortress at West Point to the British. After four years of war, America is forced to realize that the real threat to its liberties might not come from without but from within. Valiant Ambition is a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and the war that gave birth to a nation.
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