Democracy Dies in Darkness

Books | Review

A fresh recording of Katharine Graham’s memoir is among the best new audiobooks

January 2, 2018 at 8:00 AM

****HANDOUT IMAGE ?Personal History,? by Katharine Graham, (credit: Random House Audio) ***NOT FOR RESALE (Random House Audio/Random House Audio)


By Katharine Graham

Random House Audio. Unabridged, 30½ hours

The release of Steven Spielberg's movie "The Post" dovetails nicely with the recent unabridged recording of Katharine Graham's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography, published in 1997. Narrator Carrington MacDuffie gives a fine performance, delivering the book in a civilized, matter-of-fact voice that accords with the spirit in which it was written. Graham gives a candid account of her development from a dutiful daughter and wife to the "Iron Lady," a sobriquet, we see, that owed more to the sexism of the day than to her character. The tale of her trials is often wrenching. Her description of the decisions she faced is laced with reflections on her constant self-questioning and her struggle to overcome a lack of confidence. In the face of widespread skepticism, she assumed control of The Post after her husband's suicide and was instrumental in making it an internationally respected paper, first in her decision to publish the Pentagon Papers and, later, in her persistence, against overt and covert threats, in supporting the investigations that exposed the Watergate break-in and cover-up.

Related: [To hear a sample of “Personal History,” click here.]

****HANDOUT IMAGE ?The Wife Between Us,? by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, (credit: Macmillan Audio) ***NOT FOR RESALE (Macmillan Audio/Macmillan Audio)


By Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Macmillan Audio. Unabridged, 11 hours

Written in the treacherous, shape-shifting spirit of "Gone Girl," "The Wife Between Us" is a suspenseful tale of an abused ex-wife, Nellie, stalking her former husband's new lover, Emma. Betrayed and abandoned, Nellie hopes to revenge herself on both of them. Zipping back and forth in time, she tells how she met and married the astoundingly handsome and generous Richard, a hedge-fund manager who installs her in a huge house in a wealthy New York suburb. Soon enough, however, Richard shows himself to be a violent tyrant. Nellie, once a lively preschool teacher, becomes a doormat in a golden cage, descending into drink and despair. And along comes Emma, young and luscious and naive — or so we think. The plot is one of those spring-loaded affairs, blindsiding us and sending us skittering into a whole different story. Julia Whelan reads the novel in her low, pleasant voice, moving down a register to capture Richard's infuriating condescension and lightening slightly for the younger Emma. With its perfidious turns, this escapist entertainment is a fine example of the 21st century's more cynical version of the O. Henry ending.

Related: [To hear a sample of “The Wife Between Us,” click here.]

****HANDOUT IMAGE ?The Revolution of the Moon,? By Andrea Camilleri, Translated by Stephen Sartarelli, (credit: Blackstone Audio) ***NOT FOR RESALE (Blackstone Audio/Blackstone Audio)


By Andrea Camilleri. Translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli

Blackstone Audio. Unabridged, 7 hours

Best known for his Inspector Montalbano series, Italian writer Andrea Camilleri steps back to 1677 in this thrilling historical novel about Doña Eleonora di Mora, who reigned briefly as Charles III's viceroy in Sicily. Three-hundred years may separate "The Revolution of the Moon" from the doings of Inspector Montalbano, but corruption is still Camilleri's beat. Named her late husband's successor in his will, 25-year-old Eleonora proceeds to dismiss the high-born crooks, liars and sexual predators who make up the Holy Royal Council. She arranges for each to gain his comeuppance, while reducing taxes on the poor, protecting the guilds and providing for women who have been driven into prostitution by need or force. Garnished with sly wit and broad humor, the novel is a late-Renaissance caper. Grover Gardner, veteran narrator of the Montalbano series, delivers a marvelous performance, serving up the many Spanish and Italian phrases con brio. Just listening to him uttering the names of such characters as Don Angel de Guzmàn, marquis de Castel de Roderigo, is a joy in itself. Eleonora is deposed after 27 days — just one revolution of the moon — but her departure is summed up in the title of the final chapter: "An Ending Neither Happy nor Sad."

Related: [To hear a sample of “The Revolution of the Moon,” click here.]

Katherine A. Powers reviews audiobooks each month for The Washington Post.

Post Recommends

We're glad you're enjoying The Washington Post.

Get access to this story, and every story, on the web and in our apps with our Basic Digital subscription.

Welcome to The Washington Post

Thank you for subscribing
Keep reading for $10 $1
Show me more offers