House of War
James Carroll, , read by the author. . Random House Audio, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7393-3306-8
Carroll would make a perfect NPR morning-show host, his sensitive, low, smooth voice the perfect background noise for sleepy yuppies getting ready for work. Reading his own book, a study of the Pentagon's outsize influence on postwar American life, Carroll is soothing and inoffensive. His reading is so uninflected that it veers on indistinctness or narcolepsy. Early-morning drivers should probably avoid listening to Carroll, for fear of being lulled into sleep. And yet, careful attention reveals a fine, subtle reading. Carroll lets his words speak for themselves, avoiding underlining or emphasizing specific words or phrases in his text. For some readers, that might be a recipe for being driven crazy; for others, it will allow for an uninfluenced reading of the text, whereby readers can listen as they might read—picking out their own points of emphasis. A little more emotion, though, probably wouldn't have hurt.
Reviewed on: 08/07/2006