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By on March 1, 2009
RoadKing Mag

The Given Day
By Dennis Lehane
Read by Michael Boatman
20 CDs, 24 hours

In the beautifully detailed opening chapter, a young Babe Ruth happens on a pickup baseball game played by a group of black men. Just beginning to make a name for himself with the Boston Red Sox and filled with an irrepressible love of the game, he is wowed by the skill of the players and asks if he can play too. When his Red Sox teammates show up, the game becomes one of black vs. white, rich vs. poor, privileged vs. downtrodden.

Those are the underlying conflicts this historical novel addresses through one of the black players, Luther Laurence, and an Irish cop named Danny Coughlin. The tale builds up to the Boston Police Strike of 1919, with stops along the way that include Bolshevik terrorists, violent union-busting, immigration and racial identity. Appearances by famous characters, such as Calvin Coolidge, J. Edgar Hoover and Eugene O’Neill, actually take the listener out of the story. Ruth, a main character, feels particularly squeezed in. But the tales of Luther and Danny are compelling, especially as read by the talented Michael Boatman, and feel very contemporary.

A Member of the Family
By Cesar Millan
with Melissa Jo Peltier
Read by the Millan Family
5 CDs, 5.5 hours

Every week, fans tune into TV’s The Dog Whisperer to watch Cesar Millan turn harried canine owners into confident “pack leaders.” In his third book, A Member of the Family, Millan offers a thorough primer on how to stop bad-dog behavior before it starts, first by choosing a pup that suits your family’s lifestyle, and then by establishing the household hierarchy from Day One.

But Millan has always maintained that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and accordingly, these back-to-basics tips may be just as useful to those who already have dogs in their homes. A step-by-step description of how to walk your dog provides valuable detail, and he offers thoughtful advice to anyone concerned with the recent dog food recalls.

Millan’s accent is occasionally difficult to understand, but he enunciates clearly, and frequent viewers of the show will recognize his speech patterns. Besides, hearing his no-nonsense wisdom from anyone else’s lips just wouldn’t be the same.

Call Me Ted
By Ted Turner with Bill Burke
Read by Ted Turner
7 CDs, 8 Hours

Showbiz executive, entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner has lived a remarkable — some might even say legendary — life.

From turning around an ailing Atlanta Braves to jump-starting CNN, international sailing competitions, failed marriages (including one to Jane Fonda), and earning
millions of dollars along the way, he’s packed a lot of adventure into his 71 years. Still, he has a lot of energy left and is determined to put it to good use.  

Turner teamed up with former Turner Broadcasting employee Bill Burke to write Call Me Ted. “Ted Stories,” interviews from Turner’s children, colleagues and friends are woven throughout. The technique effectively breathes color into Turner’s story, unearthing facts (like his father’s abusive behavior) that he doesn’t articulate himself.

With his distinctive, matter-of-fact tone, Turner delivers a frank account of his life as one of the richest men in the world and the largest landowner in the U.S. He talks openly about his only sister’s death at age 17 and the shocking death of his father, who committed suicide when Turner was just 24. Reflecting on his own children and the demands of building a media empire, it’s obvious that he regrets his absence at home.

Turner wasn’t thrilled with the idea of telling his life’s story — but readers engrossed in his exploits will likely be glad he did.

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