LibriVox (zipped mp3s)
Length: 4 hr, 45 min
Reader: Mike Vendetti
The book: To wrap up my August back-to-school assigned reading month, I'm reviewing a book that seems to be the bane of every high school American literature student. I really, really, really hated The Red Badge of Courage when I was forced to read it in my junior-year English class. Reading it again, I realize it's not so bad, though still not an especially exciting read.
The book mainly concerns a young soldier in the Civil War. Despite the premise, it's not an exciting adventure book, but instead a mediation on the young man's thoughts and experiences around the time of a battle. The main character flees panics and flees during the first engagement he's in and the book seems to meander along as he encounters various people behind the battlelines. Like the young soldier, the book eventually regroups and produces a fine conclusion, but it's a long journey to get there.
The reader: Mike Vendetti is a professional voice-over actor with an inspiring voice. His deep baritone rumbles like a far-off cannon, making him a perfect pairing with this novel. With Crane's description-heavy text it is easy to fall into a drone, but Vendetti avoids this by giving dramatic emphasis to his reading. The recording is clear and beautifully done.