Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Americans: 11 True Stories of Challenge and Wonder narrated by Michael Holmes

When we think of self-publishing, I suspect most of us think of books. In the past these would have been short-run paper books, and more recently they would tend to be ebooks, which might be marketed through any number of online vendors fostering the self-publishing industry. Of course, people also self-publish zines, short for "magazines," or they give their writings away in blogs. What you don't think of is audiobooks. Who has the ability conceive, record, and market high quality audiobooks?

Advertising producer/entrepreneur Michael Holmes has the ability to make his own audiobooks. (Maybe he is more small press publisher than self-publisher because of his company.) He must also have a love for American history and biography. I do not know the back story, but he has recorded biographical profiles for twelve figures from American history. He lightly added a little music and occasional sound effects and called them collectively The Americans: 11 True Stories of Challenge and Wonder. 

Because one of the profiles describes the heroic lives of a couple, runaway slaves William and Ellen Craft, there are eleven stories in The Americans. The profiles run between slightly less than ten minutes to nearly twenty-three minutes. At 9:45, the story Amelia Earhart seems too brief to me, just as her real life must have seemed to her fans. Otherwise, I enjoyed the profiles narrated by Holmes. I especially appreciated learning about some lesser-known characters, including the aforementioned Crafts, dentist William Morton, Civil War spy Lafayette Baker, and the first woman to be licensed as a physician in the United States, Elizabeth Blackwell.

Other figures profiled were Butch Cassidy, Annie Oakley, Samuel Clemens, Dorothea Dix, P.T. Barnum, and Francis Scott Key. The only quality that I know they all shared was being memorable characters. That we have such a diversity in our country may be the point. I think a short audio introduction about the collection as track one would be a nice addition if there are further editions.

There is a 5 minute sample on Holmes' website.

The Americans will be enjoyed by regular listeners to audiobooks or podcasts. I do not see that any libraries yet have the audiobook, but it is found at Audible.com or through Amazon.com (which owns Audible.com). Amazon also has the title as an ebook.

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