18. Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel by John Stubbs

I received this audiobook for free from the publisher in exchanged for a unbiased review.

When I first saw that it was 31 hours and 25 CD's (equivalent to 752 pages in the print version), I was a bit overwhelmed, but once I started listening to the excellent narration by Derek Perkins, I knew I was in good hands. WOW! I have listened to many audiobooks by British narrators, and sometimes, especially on academic subjects, they can come across with a "haughty" tone. This is NOT so with Derek Perkins. His narration is all British sophistication without the stuffiness. Excellent choice for a narrator.

The same holds true for the author, John Stubbs. This is a very scholarly biography, but it is not stuffy. It is quite readable (or easy to listen to in my case). I learned many details about British history and found it fascinating, especially since I just went to England last summer, and spent time at Blenheim Palace and many of the spots in London described in the book.

I am sort of a "Brit Lit Nerd" so I really enjoyed this book. I am not sure how much the general population will like it.

I read Gulliver's Travels in 2003, and this biography made me want to read it again now that I have a better handle on the historical background to his satire. I also want to read some of his other works like "A Tale of a Tub" and "A Modest Proposal." So the biography had a very positive effect on me.

I feel so sorry for Swift. His early experiences of abandonment  were heartbreaking. He was brilliant, but I am not sure he was a very happy person.

My only regret with listening to an audiobook is that I did not have access to the pictures that were in a print edition of the book. That would have been very helpful to see the pictures that he sometimes describes.

I agree wholeheartedly with this review of the book in the New York Times:


(For West Wing fans, he describes Swift as "an 18th Century Toby Ziegler" - sarcasm and brilliance!)

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