Summer travelers, ATTENTION!!!!
Worried about covering long distances with only AM/FM radio? No cash for SAT radio? Listen up: find a computer and DL some audio books. The hours won’t seem as dull and you will have “read” a book, thus making you much more brilliant and literate than any other traveler on the road. Plus it will drown out the kids in the back yelling “are we there yet?” for 500th time.
Kidding aside, I’ve become a big fan of audio books. My commute isn’t long but the time in a car adds up day after day and audio books can be slightly more interesting than talk radio. Over the last few months, I’ve knocked out all the Harry Potter books…finally…while driving kids and heading to work.
On a three-week vacation this summer, I finished up two WWII-themed books of note. The first is Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters by Dick Winters and Cole Kingseed. Readers familiar with Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers and the HBO miniseries will enjoy this book as it provides much additional detail on the men in E company, 506 PIR, 101st Airborne Division. Winters even tells of a near death experience in the Swiss Alps hunting mountain goats after all the shooting had stopped. With his guide in the snowy upper reaches of a mountain, Winters spied his goat, but lost his footing and tumbled down the mountain, finally self-arresting with his rifle after a considerable distance. Sitting up, he shot the goat and promised never to mountain climb again. Stories like these fill the book and add considerable depth to the story of E company. The downside of the book is perhaps the last 1/3 as it ends with lectures on leadership and fan mail received after the airing of Band of Brothers. While this content is notable, it’s not nearly as interesting as the first 2/3 of the book. Still, this is a good read worth checking out.
The second book is Sławomir Rawicz’s The Long Walk. While there are lingering questions about the authenticity of the book, I can say that it is a pretty marvelous piece of fiction. I thought it would be awful, to be honest. I mean who wants to read a book about a bunch of dudes walking 4000 miles? But this is a story about a Polish Army officer captured by the Russians, interrogated/tortured, and shipped to Siberia. With the help of the only woman in the camp (the Commandant’s wife), he escapes with a few friends and the walking begins. Of note were the author’s descriptions of the trek through Tibet (and the generosity of the people) and of crossing the Gobi desert. I kept thinking over and over, “no way that just happened.” The prose is florid and quite beautiful at times. Plus the narrator was exceptionally good (and British, too) and brought the story to life. With audio books, this is key. This book is worth a listen.
So there you have it: two decent audio books. Happy listening.