Cover art for The Magic Mountain

The Magic Mountain

9 ratings

Summary

It was The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg) that confirmed Thomas Mann as a Nobel prizewinner for literature and rightly so, for it is undoubtedly one of the great novels of the 20th century.  Its unusual story - it opens with a young man visiting a friend in a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps - was originally started by Mann in 1912 but was not completed until 1924. Then, it was instantly recognised as a masterpiece and led to Mann’s Nobel Prize in 1929.  Hans Castorp is, on the face of it, an ordinary man in his early 20s, on course to start a career in ship engineering in his home town of Hamburg, when he decides to travel to the Berghof Santatorium in Davos. The year is 1912, and an oblivious world is on the brink of war. Castorp’s friend Joachim Ziemssen is taking the cure, and a three-week visit seems a perfect break before work begins. But when Castorp arrives he is surprised to find an established community of patients, some of whom have been there for years, and little by little, he gets drawn into the closeted life and the individual personalities of the residents.  Among them are Hofrat Behrens, the principal doctor, the curiously attractive Clavdia Chauchat and two intellectuals: Ludovico Settembrini and Leo Naphta with their strongly contrasted personalities and differing political, ethical, artistic and spiritual ideals. Hans Castorp’s stay is extended, once, twice and still further, as he appears to develop symptoms which suggest that his health, once so robust, would benefit from the treatments and the mountain air.  As time passes, it becomes clear that the young man, with a particular interest in shipbuilding and not much else, finds his outlook and knowledge broadened by his mountain companions, his intellect stretched and his emotional experience deepened and enriched. Hans Castorp is changing, day by day, month by month, year by year, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes with a sudden advance, as he encounters the varied range of sparkling characters, their comedies and tragedies, their aspirations and their defeats.  The Magic Mountain is a classic bildungsroman, an educational journey of growth - a genre that began with an earlier novel in the German tradition: Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship. It is presented here in the acclaimed modern translation by John E. Woods and is told by David Rintoul with his particular understanding for Thomas Mann as displayed in his widely praised Ukemi recording of Buddenbrooks.

©1996 Knopf Translation (P)2020 Ukemi Productions Ltd

Length: 37 hrs and 27 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for The Room Where It Happened

The Room Where It Happened

244 ratings

Summary

John Bolton reads the epilogue! As President Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton spent many of his 453 days in the room where it happened, and the facts speak for themselves. The result is a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the president, John Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office. What Bolton saw astonished him: a president for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation.  “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” he writes. In fact, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy - and Bolton documents exactly what those were and the attempts by him and others in the administration to raise alarms about them. He shows a president addicted to chaos, who embraced our enemies and spurned our friends, and was deeply suspicious of his own government. In Bolton’s telling, all this helped put Trump on the bizarre road to impeachment.  “The differences between this presidency and previous ones I had served were stunning,” writes Bolton, who worked for Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43. He discovered a president who thought foreign policy is like closing a real estate deal - about personal relationships, made-for-TV showmanship, and advancing his own interests. As a result, the US lost an opportunity to confront its deepening threats, and in cases like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea ended up in a more vulnerable place.  Bolton’s account starts with his long march to the West Wing as Trump and others woo him for the national security job. The minute he lands, he has to deal with Syria’s chemical attack on the city of Douma and the crises after that never stop. As he writes early on, “If you don’t like turmoil, uncertainty, and risk - all the while being constantly overwhelmed with information, decisions to be made, and sheer amount of work - and enlivened by international and domestic personality and ego conflicts beyond description, try something else.”  The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there - from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic and manipulative moves of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, the crazy plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. But this seasoned public servant also has a great eye for the Washington inside game, and his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played. 

©2020 John Bolton (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

Author: John Bolton
Category: History, Americas
Length: 20 hrs and 52 mins
Available on Audible