The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide: Protect Your Savings, Boost Your Income, and Grow Wealthy by Martin D. Weiss

August 12, 2009

 

Economics books, especially those that are not geared towards readers who are experts, shouldn’t be expected to be as exciting as a detective book. The narration isn’t held to the same standard as when a best-seller destined to be turned into a popular movie is narrated by a famous movie star known for their distinctive voice. Oliver Wyman, the narrator of “The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide: Protect Your Savings, Boost Your Income, and Grow Wealthy” by Martin D. Weiss, is a bit of a rock star in his field, and it’s easy to see why. His voice lends the subject matter the authority it warrants, but it also has the warmth of a beloved college professor giving one of his most popular lectures. A book on economics could have easily have been presented with a wry superiority, but Oliver Wyman proves that it can be the complete opposite.

This is a wonderful treat for those of us who didn’t enjoy sitting through dull lectures in college, but miss being exposed to new ideas and pertinent history. His narration is approachable and frequently fun and playful without veering into caricature or vocal acrobatics. Using his Audie Award winning voice, he lets the quality writing of Martin D. Weiss speak for itself.

Compared to the choices that Don Leslie made while narrating “The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008” by Paul Krugman, his restraint is appreciated. Don Leslie, the narrator, has a very expressive and rich baritone voice, which can occasionally develop a movie trailer quality. Nobel Laureate Krugman did not write a potboiler or a psychosexual murder mystery, but a serious book full of economic theories that led to not only the American Great Depression, but also economic depressions experienced by countries all over the world in the Twentieth Century.

With his approachable, yet still commanding tone Oliver Wyman allows the listener to forget they’re listening to an audio book and feel more like they’re listening to a trusted friend expound on his advice for surviving the current financial crisis, gleaned from his research and lessons learned at his father’s feet. The only way the narration could’ve possibly been better was if Martin Weiss had narrated it himself, the way Harry S. Dent narrated his book “The Great Depression Ahead: How to Prosper in the Crash that Follows the Greatest Boom in History.” Only the author himself could have read the audio book with such affection for the material.

 

Weiss’ audio book has the advantage of much better sound than “The Great Depression Ahead”, which frequently suffers from inconsistent volume and a tendency to occasionally sound muffled. My only complaint is that I wish Oliver Wyman had been more willing to express the affection the author has for his father. The author stated that he considered the book coauthored by his father. I wish I could’ve felt the presence of Mr. Weiss’ father more in the narration.

The sound quality is impeccable. Frequently there is a difference in how an audio book sounds while listening to headphones versus how it sounds over a car stereo, or when the MP3 is being played on a PC. Nevertheless, this audio book was perfectly sound engineered because the sound is crystal clear no matter what device I used for listening to it. Listeners with an especially sensitive ear may notice too strong of an emphasis on the hard consonants. Also, when the narrator punches the first word in a sentence to give it emphasis, it can feel a bit jarring. But there isn’t a tinny section or a muffled passage to be found in the entire eight hours and twenty-two minutes. There is also no noticeable background or production noise. That probably seems like it would be a given, but often corners are cut in the post-recording and editing stage and audio books suffer. That is no the case here.

The pacing is also perfect. Paragraph breaks provide ample time to process and absorb the content. This is very important when a book is non-fiction. With a book, there is ample time to rediscover plot points they might have been missed, but with a book as chock full of historical and economic information on which concepts build upon each other, good pacing is essential. And this audio book has that in spades.

The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide is designed to give listeners instructions on how to build a plan for not just weathering the current financial crisis, but coming out the other side wealthier than before. Moreover, the audio book creates a feeling of sitting down with your friend who knows everything about money, and having him or her, give you all the secrets and the keys to the castle.

This makes it easy to map out a financial plan. A listener never feels like Martin Weiss is somewhere laughing at them, because Oliver Wyman makes them feel like he is right there explaining it, no matter how many times they may need to go back and listen to the same passage again. The cover of the audio book shows a roll of money adrift in an endless ocean in a life preserver. And its easy to feel that way in these uncertain times, but the content, read so wonderfully by Oliver Wyman makes any listener feel like they will be rescued or will reach shore at any moment. The book is a great value because it also comes with a downloadable reference guide to deepen the customer’s understanding of the material, complete with charts, graphs, assorted illustrations.

The audio book listens so easily it’s easy to imagine a reader finishing it in just a few extended sittings. With the glut of books being published on the current financial crisis a book has to be a cut above to be chosen. Superior sound quality like that on this audio book is a great example of what happens when talent experts collaborate on a project.

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