I Kiss Your Hands Many Times [Audiobook]

I Kiss Your Hands Many Times [Audiobook]
I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary [Audiobook] by Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, read by the Author
2013 | M4B@64 kbps | 14 hrs 6 mins | 416.76MB

A magnificent wartime love story about the forces that brought the author’s parents together and those that nearly drove them apart

Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s parents, Hanna and Aladár, met and fell in love in Budapest in 1940. He was a rising star in the foreign ministry—a vocal anti-Fascist who was in talks with the Allies when he was arrested and sent to Dachau. She was the granddaughter of Manfred Weiss, the industrialist patriarch of an aristocratic Jewish family that owned factories, were patrons of intellectuals and artists, and entertained dignitaries at their baronial estates. Though many in the family had converted to Catholicism decades earlier, when the Germans invaded Hungary in March 1944, they were forced into hiding. In a secret and controversial deal brokered with Heinrich Himmler, the family turned over their vast holdings in exchange for their safe passage to Portugal.

Aladár survived Dachau, a fragile and anxious version of himself. After nearly two years without contact, he located Hanna and wrote her a letter that warned that he was not the man she’d last seen, but he was still in love with her. After months of waiting for visas and transit, she finally arrived in a devastated Budapest in December 1945, where at last they were wed.

Framed by a cache of letters written between 1940 and 1947, Szegedy-Maszák’s family memoir tells the story, at once intimate and epic, of the complicated relationship Hungary had with its Jewish population—the moments of glorious humanism that stood apart from its history of anti-Semitism—and with the rest of the world. She resurrects in riveting detail a lost world of splendor and carefully limns the moral struggles that history exacted—from a country and its individuals.

Freak: The True Story of an Insecurity Addict [Audiobook]

Freak: The True Story of an Insecurity Addict [Audiobook]
Freak: The True Story of an Insecurity Addict [Audiobook] by Rebecca O'Donnell, read by the Author
2014 | M4B@64 kbps | 11 hrs 6 mins | 317.89MB

From its first caustic, blackly hilarious quote to its unbelievable ending, Freak examines a roller coaster ride of a life and never lets up. It tells the true story of Rebecca O'Donnell, an atypical hero who found joy and laughter in the darkest of circumstances. Unlike so many spunky survivors of damaged pasts, Rebecca belonged to those far more common gray areas of depression and insecurity, hidden behind a mask she showed the world.

For decades, all her decisions were colored by that grayness, that insecurity; she had put herself into a pit and had to discover a way to crawl out of it. With laughter, self-recognition, and a drop of shaky courage, Rebecca shares exactly how she did that, discovering in the process a gift that she never expected - the ability to help others build their own ladder out of hell. Freak offers hope to anyone who has ever heard that voice of self-hatred - the gremlin of insecurity whispering that we can't, we shouldn't, and we don't deserve.

It is the denial of that gremlin and the shattering of its lie that make this memoir resonate with other victims of incest, substance abuse, and depression.

Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas [Audiobook]

Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas [Audiobook]
Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas: How Jay Sarno Won a Casino Empire, Lost It, and Inspired Modern Las Vegas [Audiobook] by David G Schwartz, read by Eric Martin
2014 | M4B@64 kbps | 11 hrs 27 mins | 318.86MB

Jay Sarno built two path-breaking Las Vegas casinos, Caesars Palace (1966) and Circus Circus (1968), and planned but did not build a third, the Grandissimo, which would have started the mega-resort era a decade before Steve Wynn built The Mirage. As mobsters and accountants battled for the soul of the last American frontier town, Las Vegas had endless possibilities - if you didn't mind high stakes and stiff odds. Sarno invented the modern Las Vegas casino, but he was part of a dying breed - a back-pocket entrepreneur who'd parlayed a jones for action and a few Teamster loans into a life as a Vegas casino owner.

For all of his accomplishments, his empire didn't last. Sarno sold out of Caesars Palace shortly after it opened - partially to get away from the bookies and gangsters who'd taken over the casino - and he was forced to relinquish control of Circus Circus when the federal government indicted him on charges of offering the largest bribe in IRS history - a bribe he freely admitted paying, on the advice of his attorney, Oscar Goodman. Though he ultimately walked out of court a free man, he never got Circus back. And though he guessed the formula that would open up Las Vegas to millions in the 1990s with the design of the Grandissimo, but he wasn't able to secure the financing for the casino, and when he died in 1984, it remained only a frustrating dream.

Sarno's casinos - and his ideas about how to build casinos - created the template for Las Vegas today. Before him, Las Vegas meant dealers in string ties and bland, functional architecture. He taught the city how to dress up its hotels in fantasy, putting toga dresses on cocktail waitresses and making sure that even the stationery carried through with the theme. He saw Las Vegas as a place where ordinary people could leave their ordinary lives and have extraordinary adventures. And that remains the template for Las Vegas today.

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