As you may have heard me mention on Magic 98.9, it's one library with five locations, but I consider my cell phone to be a sixth location because I have 24/7 access to downloadables, like audiobooks and ebooks, using the Libby App and my library card. It's been a convenient and affordable way to continue enjoying my love of audio books and so far, I've checked out over 40 audio books since I first started using Libby back in June 2017.
Also since then, I haven't bought audio books, nor have I paid a cent for audio book site membership. Our library provides for all of my digital media needs (and yours) as a service of the city of Anchorage. Here are some brief reviews of my favorite Libby listens so far. To begin your own exploration of audio books and ebooks, get your Library Card and click on the DOWNLOADABLES section at www.AnchorageLibrary.org today.
THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD
By Steve Sheinkin
Read by Mark Bramhall
When one rises to great heights, a fall from grace is a long fall indeed. This well-narrated audio book gives a very even handed and thorough account of Benedict Arnold's successes, shortcomings, his military brilliance and bravery, and the tragic events that turned America's potentially greatest war hero into its most infamous traitor.
Arnold's military exploits were on a path to eclipse those of any other Revolutionary War hero, including George Washington's. Unfortunately, he chose to turn his coat and practically nullified all of his exploits before his escape from West Point.
That's a shame because without his victories, such as Saratoga and particularly his naval stalling action in the Battle of Valcour Island, the British could have ended the war early. Arnold's actions bought precious time for the Revolution. Now there is a statue In Saratoga National Historical Park that does not even bear his name-- it's just a riding boot that commemorates the crippling leg wounds Arnold received when he was still a patriot.
By James R. Hansen
Read by Jeremy Bobb
If I were to write a regular book review column, a running theme would have to be that when books are turned into movies, the movie is often very different and the book is usually better. This next review demonstrate that.
As a Moonshot buff, I seek out books, movies, and documentaries about NASA, Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, and the Soviet space race. When the movie First Man hit theaters, I was disappointed.Fortunately, the audio book redeemed the story.
For one thing, it was NOT a ground breaking first in movies as it was hyped, except perhaps that it was exclusively about Neil Armstrong's life. The HBO mini-series From The Earth To The Moon, based on the excellent book (with an excellent audio book) A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin, gave a far better account of the space race.
Also, the mini-series featured comparable special effects, better space craft set pieces, and overall better cinematography in 1998 than First Man presented in 2018. But don't take my word for it. You can borrow the DVD's of From the Earth To The Moon, via our Anchorage Public Library. Here is the Search Link.
But I digress. This is supposed to be an audio book review, and the book First Man did what the movie failed to do: it delivered multiple dimensions of Neil Armstrong. I don't blame Ryan Gosling for the limitations of a movie's time constraints, and he did a wonderful job portraying that portion of Neil's life and the reserve for which Armstrong was legendary. The book does, however, poke many holes in the myth of his reclusiveness.
Upon finishing the audio book, my take was that Neil Armstrong was cool, but not cold. As in he was cool under pressure, always, but not an unemotional man. He felt deeply, though he was not prone to emotional outbursts-- especially since such displays never really help the situation.
While he guarded his privacy after his historic 'one small step,' Neil didn't become as sequestered as some might believe. The book explored Neil Armstrong's life after Apollo 11. He participate in many charitable events and Bob Hope's tour/TV special, business ventures, and even took part in the commission that investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. The book First Man is well worth the read and the listen in audio book format.
Perhaps I can sum it up best this way: the movie cast a shadow over my hero, Neil Armstrong. The audio book shed some light on him-- and made him even more of a hero to me-- not because of Armstrong's great deeds, but because it better revealed his humanity.
Here's a video of Neil Armstrong with Bob Hope on his special, and with our troops in Vietnam.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
By Frank W. Abagnale with Stan Redding
Read by Barrett Whitener
If the movie First Man featured a stripped down version of the Neil Armstrong in the book, the movie Catch Me If You Can featured a totally different Frank Abagnale than the book and audio narration presented. Both movie and book are good, but the characters in the book hardly resemble those on the big screen.
For this audio book, the Barrett Whitener's slick and snarky first person narration is PERFECT for describing the crazy events of teenaged criminal. Barrett's read also fits the era of the 60's and early 70's and brings the story to life.
Frank Abagnale scored MILLIONS of dollars via check fraud and swindling, plus he flew millions of miles 'deadheading' for free while posing as an airline pilot. And yes, he even posed as a doctor-- a CHIEF doctor in charge of a shift, taught at a college, and practiced as a lawyer using his skillfully forged credentials... all between the ages of 15 and 21!
I will admit that the movie did a great job concluding the story of Frank Abagnale's life on the run and his life after crime, which the audiobook did not cover. Also, the movie made a connection with me right from the start because I dimly recall watching the 1977 episode of To Tell The Truth which featured Frank and, ironically, two imposters posing as him for a change.
But if you want the deep, juicy details of the risky cons and daring escapes that Abagnale pulled off while his peers were worrying about prom and acne, get the book-- or the audio book.
Learn more about the digital media and other resources available right at your fingertips. Log on to www.AnchorageLibrary.org today.
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