“My career has been all about the importance of telling important and unwanted truths,” Seymour Hersh announces in this unflinching memoir of his life and career. The son of Jewish immigrants who ran a dry-cleaning shop on Chicago’s South Side, Hersh built a career exposing one rotten mess after another: U.S. development of chemical and biological weapons; the pervasive lies of military spokesmen about a bungled, unwinnable war in Vietnam; the My Lai Massacre; domestic spying; the paralyzing rivalry between the FBI, the CIA and the NSA; the torture of prisoners and the backstory of the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. A dyed-in-the-wool skeptic, a dogged sleuth and a gadfly, Hersh has won praise, criticism — and a Pulitzer — for his fearless work. Here he is generous with previously undisclosed material, including details about the dysfunctional presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy, where he spent a few fraught months as press secretary. He reports, too, on his struggles with editors, who, he explains charitably, “get tired of difficult stories and difficult reporters.” Arthur Morey delivers this thoroughly absorbing memoir in a clear, well-paced, just-the-facts voice. (Random House Audio. Unabridged, 14 hours.)
Stephen McCauley’s novel “My Ex-Life,” is an ebullient comedy of manners, a painful exploration of the past and a story of friendship. David Hedges — a 50-something living in San Francisco in a rent-controlled carriage house on the brink of being sold — is a college-prep coach for children of the wealthy. His young boyfriend has left him for a rich man, and he is getting fat. This sad state of affairs takes a turn when David gets a call from his ex-wife, Julie, to whom he hasn’t spoken in decades. She has just been abandoned by her second husband and wonders if David can visit her in Massachusetts and help her daughter get into college. David answers yes and moves into a tiny room in Julie’s decaying North Shore mansion, a place “somewhere on the early end of the Grey Gardens trajectory.” The novel is filled with wonderfully and wickedly drawn characters (an alcoholic Airbnb consultant, a creepy Internet-porn entrepreneur) and satirical depictions of the way we live now (the invasion of throw pillows, real-estate frenzy). George Newbern narrates the book with perfect amiability and delivers its many sallies of wit and one-liners with impeccable timing and poise. (MacMillan Audio. Unabridged, 10 ¼ hours.)
Katherine A. Powers reviews audiobooks each month for The Washington Post.