Simon Schama, , read by the author. . HarperCollins Audio, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-113702-0
The plummy voice, ringing with the sound of perfectly enunciated consonants and gently undulating vowels, immediately rouses images of the ancient stone walls of Oxford and Cambridge. Schama's posh accent takes every line of his new book, every scrap of quoted dialogue, rolls them around in his mouth and gives them the shape and punch of a particularly well-formulated cocktail party bon mot. Schama's subject is not quite so lighthearted. Studying the lives of slaves and ex-slaves around the time of the American Revolution, Schama finds brutality, horror and the ever-present threat of a return to slavery, leading many blacks to embrace the British cause and the hope of freedom. Schama's Oxbridge voice, so overwhelmingly appealing to American listeners, who innately associate its sounds with the presence of deep wells of intelligence, is a lovely serving dish for his book's meal, decorating and presenting his work with an authoritative upper-class flourish.
Reviewed on: 07/10/2006