So here it is, the moment of truth, my final Armchair Audies post. You may have noticed an increase of non-fiction in the blog lately and that’s because I chose to listen, review and predict the winner of the History category of the Audies, the awards of the American Audio Publishers Association. These were the nominees:

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt, narrated by Wanda McCaddon (sample), for love or money. Audible and other online audio stores imposed geographic restrictions on the book and I decided against ordering the (much more expensive) CD. This book was actually the one I was more looking forward to, not only for the topic, but because it’s the only in the category with a female narrator. I tried everything, promise, including calling Audible costumer service to grovel and using credit cards from three different (European) countries.

So, I must underline that my prediction for the winner compromised by the absence of one of the books.

I started off with In The Garden of Beasts (sample), narrated by Stephen Hoye, who was also nominated for The Emperor of All Maladies (sample). He did a great job with both books, especially considering the different languages in Garden and the complex medical terms in Emperor. Both books were about difficult topics, full of emotional moments which Hoye nailed perfectly.

Marc Vietor, who narrated 1812: The Navy’s War (sample), is also at a disadvantage with me because I didn’t care enough for the topic to listen to the full 19 hours of audiobook. Still, it was Vietor’s narration that got me through the five I did manage. There’s a “manliness” and confidence about his voice that fitted well with the descriptions of military strategy and naval battles. I’d love to listen to him read the Audrey/Maturin series.

Finally, Jonathan Davis’ wonderful job in 1861: The Civil War Awakening (sample). I was surprise by how much I actually enjoyed the book. It’s full of inflamed speeches and proclamations, so it wouldn’t do to have a flat narration or one that goes the other way and becomes theatrical. I though Davis found the right balance.

In the end, my prediction for the winner goes to Stephen Hoye and his narration of In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. It was a tough choice considering the quality of the other nominees, but in my humble opinion this one deserves it because of its higher degree of complexity. It’s full of names, places and expressions in English, German, Russian and French. There are also extensive quotes by men and women from different nationalities.

It’s a credit to Hoye’s skill that I almost didn’t notice the narration. In these cases, not being aware of the narration is a good sign because it means you’re not being disturbed by an unrealistic accent or a misspelled word.

My vote is casted, so now I’m looking forward to what the real judges will say.

Once again thank you Jennifer, The Guilded Earlobe and Dog Eared Copy for organizing it. I look forward to the new and improved version of the 2013 edition!