Audio Reviews: Nonfiction, December 2011

Branca, Ralph with David Ritz. A Moment in Time. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781611746099. $66; 6 CDs. retail ed.; digital download. SPORTS
Branca (b. 1926) is best known for giving up the most famous home run in baseball history: the blast by Bobby Thomson that sent the New York Giants to the 1951 World Series. Branca, an outstanding pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers whose career was cut short by injuries, reveals the pain of carrying this burden without self-pity, and his memoir is about much more than that single event. He describes the joys of growing up in a loving family in the New York suburbs, the thrill of playing for the Dodgers during the Jackie Robinson era, and the cantankerousness of such figures as manager Leo Durocher and president and general manager Branch Rickey. Traber Burns has the perfect voice (crusty) and delivery (seen-it-all) for an octogenarian’s first-person story. A Moment in Time will delight not only baseball fans but those interested in the changing culture of mid-20th-century America.‚ Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Lib.

Browne, David. Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Bittersweet Story of 1970. 10 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 11¬Ω hrs. Tantor Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781452633718. $90.99; 10 CDs. retail ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. MUSIC
Rolling Stone editor Browne focuses his fourth book on the year 1970 and how the music from four mega-bands responded to and influenced the times. His audio time line weaves descriptions of national events‚ Kent State and the Weathermen bombings‚ with the melodrama of the musicians’ lives. The story is one of tragedy and transition. Three of the four groups discussed have disbanded by the narrative’s conclusion, and the music and promise of the 1960s has come to an end. Browne’s excellent reporting on the music makes up for the flimsy premise tying his stories together. Veteran voice actor Sean Runette performs excellently, but transitions between unrelated subjects can make the time line challenging to follow in stop-and-start audio format. Recommended for fans of the highlighted musicians. [Browne engagingly illuminates many overlooked stories that may not be familiar to even dedicated rock enthusiasts, read the review of the Da Capo hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 6/10/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Mark John Swails, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS

DeGraff, Jeff. Innovation You: Four Steps to Becoming New and Improved. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 6¬Ω hrs. Books on Tape. 2011. ISBN 9780307943903. $45; digital download. Random Audio. SELF-HELP
DeGraff (Leading Innovation: How To Jump Start Your Organization’s Growth Engine) urges listeners to creativize (e.g., improvise, discover, explore) their way out of problematic business and personal situations. Innovation is not an IQ test or a talent show, he says, but a cyclical learned process. Though DeGraff conveys much enthusiasm while reading his work (at volumes that sometimes approach shouting), his methods are amorphous. Amid good advice, like removing emotion from tough decisions and seeking input from a wide variety of people, there are facile examples of companies and people innovating (e.g., losing weight, getting projects launched). Listeners will need strong organizational skills and motivation to make this program useful. Possessing those, however, precludes the usefulness that aphoristic truths like climb onto something that’s already in motion reveal. Marginal though this may be for public libraries and business collections, demand may be high given the author’s profile in the business world.‚ Douglas Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Middletown

Farmer, Paul & others. Haiti: After the Earthquake. 11 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 14 hrs. HighBridge Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781611744248. $39.95; Playaway digital; digital download. SOC SCI
Farmer, the UN deputy special envoy for Haiti and chair of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard, describes the horrifying devastation of the 7.0 earthquake that hit Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010, and points out how colonial rule, brutal dictator ships, ineffective economic policies, and uncoordinated NGO donations contributed to the destruction and slow recovery. He stresses the need to encourage a strong central government with careful planning and management of foreign aid in order to build back better. Essays by Edwidge Danticat, Evan Lyon, and others provide moving, firsthand accounts of their experiences with the quake. Farmer and Meryl Streep convey hope and concern through their strong, clear narration. Highly recommended for anyone interested in knowing more about this proud nation trying to recover from natural disasters and years of dysfunction. [Farmer demonstrates his deep love for Haiti while at the same time pushing for the drastic foreign and domestic reforms needed to rebuild this troubled nation, read the starred review of the Public Affairs: Perseus hc, LJ 7/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo

Lynch, Jane. Happy Accidents. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 7 hrs. Hyperion Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781401326135. $29.99; digital download. TV/AUTOBIOG
Although Lynch remembers her life as a series of happy accidents, the listener is soon aware that the actress has been focused and hard-working in her long career. She worked in the theater and on a TV shopping channel and acted in commercials, movies (like the hilarious Best in Show), and many small TV roles. At nearly 50, she landed a sensational part in the Fox channel hit Glee‚ the role that made her an award-winning star. Along the way, she faced some hard personal issues and emerged confident in her achievements with a skyrocketing career and a wonderful family. Lynch is an experienced voiceover performer and great reader of her own story. This audiobook is recommended for public libraries with collections in popular culture and gender studies. [Those who give her a chance may find a kindred spirit and be inspired by her personal awareness, read the review of the New York Times best-selling Voice: Hyperion hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 7/8/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Barbara Valle, El Paso P.L., TX

Malhotra, Deepak. I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse To Live as Mice in Someone Else’s Maze. 1 CD. library ed. unabridged. 1¬º hrs. AudioGO. 2011. ISBN 9780792780380. $49.95; Playaway digital; digital download. BUS
Malhotra (negotiation, Harvard Business Sch.; Negotiation Genius), a regular guest on CNBC’s The Big Idea, provides a thoughtful critique of Spencer Johnson’s 1998 best seller Who Moved My Cheese. Johnson’s motivational work is written in the style of a business fable and focuses on learning how to manage and deal with change. To balance the Johnson phenomenon, Malhotra offers an alternative approach to handling change that counters Johnson’s advice to accept unquestioningly circumstances without exploring any possible alternatives, just like the mice in the parable that mindlessly chase the cheese. Using a similar parable approach with mouse characters, Malhotra suggests that we are not powerless to change our circumstances and that we can control our destiny. He explains how to analyze and overcome assumptions about the limitations we face by first understanding the ways we unknowingly hold ourselves back. Audie Award‚ nominated narrator Robert Fass provides a solid reading that will appeal to fans of Johnson’s earlier work on change. Recommended for public libraries.‚ Dale Farris, Groves, TX

.Norwich, John Julius. Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy. 15 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 19 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781452634227. $131.99; 15 CDs. retail ed.; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. HIST
Capturing the intrigue, inspiration, devotion, and scandal that surround the papacy, prolific writer and historian Norwich (A History of Venice) presents the stories of both the heroes and the rogues who have held this position of power over millions around the world. Instead of offering an encyclopedia about all the popes, Norwich recounts in vivid prose the more interesting tales and anecdotes of the pontiffs he considers more significant and what they meant to the politics, culture, and, of course, religion of the world in their times. He brings this fascinating history up-to-date with background on present-day Pope Benedict XVI and his efforts to cope with the global priest sex scandal. While epic in scope, Norwich’s enthusiastic, informative text is superbly presented by AudioFile Earphones Award winner Michael Page’s equally impressive, distinctly British narration that maintains listener interest throughout this densely packed, fascinating history that targets intelligent lay listeners. Essential for all university libraries supporting history curriculum. [This lively if opinionated view of the political aspects of one of the most powerful positions in world history will appeal to history buffs, read the review of the New York Times best-selling Random hc, LJ 7/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Dale Farris, Groves, TX

O’Reilly, Bill & Martin Dugard. Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever. 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 8 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2011. ISBN 9781427213129. $29.99; digital download. HIST
In this fast-paced, enthralling narrative that unfolds more like a true-crime thriller than scholarly analysis, O’Reilly (The O’Reilly Factor) and Dugard (Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone) offer an account of the events that led up to, surrounded, and unfolded in the aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination. With a judicious mixture of history, hagiography, and conspiracy theory, Killing Lincoln overflows with psychological insights and wild speculation. O’Reilly’s sonorous tone and flair for the dramatic add tremendously to the work’s theatrical value. Recommended for O’Reilly devotees. [This book is not for academics but may appeal to readers who enjoy fast-paced, conjectural popular history, read the review of the New York Times best-selling Holt hc, LJ 10/1/11.‚ Ed.]‚ Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL

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Michael Rogers ( is Media Editor, Library Journal and Managing Editor of LJ Reviews.