Book Review: Rivals! Frenemies Who Changed the World

Rivals! Frenemies Who Changed the World by Scott McCormick

I cheated on this one and got the audio book, mostly because that was the only version available. I’m so glad I did. Mr. Prentice, the main narrator has a tremendously soothing voice, and the background vocals were hilarious.

Wait, what?

Audible Originals, if you haven’t found them yet, are awesomesauce! They do full-on dramatizations of stories with multiple voices and sound effects. If you happen to be a subscriber to Audible’s monthly program, you can often get two of these free every month in addition to your actual audio book “purchase”. I highly recommend it over Netflix, which glues you to a couch, whereas audio books can come on a walk with you.

Anyway, back to the review.

I love history and the various social sciences. I’m also a political junkie, but lately, that’s more depressing than not, so I went in search of something that would feed those interests and still afford me a giggle or two. This little audio book hit the spot.

It tells the stories and ramifications of four famous feuds: Adidas vs. Puma, Elizabeth I vs. Mary, Queen of Scots, Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr, and two paleontologists whose names I’ve forgotten but whose story will stick with me forever. In each case, there’s a fun hook, a bit of background, and then an alarming number of researched details presented in a totally not boring way. McCormick would have been the coolest high school history teacher on the planet.

The cartoon drawings on the cover might imply this is geared towards kids, but I don’t know that they’d be able to follow all the nuances at the speed delivered unless they’re at least middle school, and even there, they should have a knack for history. There are casual references to enough other historical events, clearly assumed as common knowledge, to make it confusing to someone who isn’t “into this stuff”. That said, it was exceedingly approachable.

I think the whole thing is about four hours long, but I tend to listen to every audio book at 1.4x speed. I talk fast. I listen fast, too, I guess. (I can understand faster than that, but it starts to sound like a children’s show or prescription med disclaimer.) It is not the kind of audio book you’d be inclined to fall asleep listening to. It’s more the kind you listen to while folding laundry or doing dishes to make the time pass more quickly.

Little note: This isn’t the first book I’ve read or audio book I’ve listened to since my last review, but it was the first one I finished. I’ve gotten picky in my old age. With limited time to read all the books on my TBR list, I follow the 10% rule. Basically, the author has that long to hook me. If I’m not interested by then–or worse yet, if I am irritated–I set it aside. There have been four attempts since the last review. Bad luck for me. But it means I’m only recommending stuff I think you might really like. So, if you’ve got Audible (or thought about getting it), learn something and laugh with this great book!

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