This book takes interesting slices of history, spices them up with a touch of narrative fiction, and serves them on platter that is accessible to all. From Walt Disney to the I Love Lucy show to Alger Hiss and plenty more, this book covers a good span of American history. Some of the people featured are the dreamers, living life out there to the fullest. Others had things they wanted to keep to themselves (anything from medical conditions to spying for a foreign country). It was a fascinating listen.
Much of the info in this book I had not come across before, or I was only slightly aware of. For instance, I can’t recall ever having heard anything about Alger Hiss, and yet he was at the center of controversy for decades. Much of the book focuses on American history, though there are a few brief jaunts elsewhere, like the chapter on Alan Turing.
One of my favorite chapters was on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. I knew Desi was Cuban but I didn’t realize what a controversy it was to have a married couple playing a married couple on TV where the husband was Cuban. Of course, Lucille and Desi had their share of marital issues. Mostly I was fascinated with Lucille’s rise to power in the world of TV show production. Her tie to the original Star Trek is only briefly mentioned and I wish there was a touch more on that. Did she merely sign the initial paperwork giving it the green light? Or did she do more to push it forward? did she meet the cast? Most chapters were like this: providing plenty of info and wetting my appetite to dig further into the subject. And I believe that in one of the purposes of this book.
Now I have to say that my man was quite surprised that I chose to listen to a book by Glenn Beck as his politics are not any where near my own. But, hey, I didn’t pick this book based on the politics of the author (I wasn’t aware that he was a talking head akin to Rush Limbaugh); I picked the book for it’s subject matter. Over all, it was nearly free of any political bent. There were a few places where I felt the author’s views were coming through instead of the historical story. Two instances come to mind: there was a comment about people once had complete trust in the press – ha!; and another comment about Disney’s EPCOT vision, church at the center, and all people living there being worthy folks. And that would be my first criticism – the very occasional bend to the politics. My second, and probably more important, is that there is only one tale that focuses on a woman in this entire book. We make up half the population and have for quite sometime. Surely there are tales about historical women left untold?
Narration: Jeremy Lowell did a good job narrating this book. He had the task of changing characters and voices every chapter as we moved on to a different point in history. I liked his Cuban accent. He had distinct voices, including females.
What I Liked: Educational and entertaining; enjoyed the chapter on Lucille Ball; quite a variety of historical points.
What I Disliked: The occasional bend towards politics crept into the narrative; only 1 woman was featured in the book.