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Rivals! Frenemies Who Changed the World by Scott McCormick

Rivals! Frenemies Who Changed the World by Scott McCormick was one of those monthly “freebies” Audible started offering subscribers two years ago. Sure, it took me two years to listen to it, but I enjoyed every second of it once I did. In roughly three hours, Mr. McCormick gives listeners amusing, jam-packed looks at four notable historical feuds covering science, royalty, shoes, and politics.

We all know, or should know, the feud between Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I of England. Similarly, anyone with ears knows of the feud between Hamilton and Burr. However, no matter how much you know, Mr. McCormick presents each rivalry in a new light. This is especially true of the Hamilton/Burr rivalry. Bucking the recent trend, he portrays Burr positively and Hamilton as cocky, hot-headed, jealous, and somewhat malicious. Not knowing what research Mr. McCormick did, he still gives you plenty of food for thought on what we think we know.

He does the same with the Mary/Elizabeth rivalry. His sympathies lie with Mary, so we see Elizabeth as something other than her country’s savior. I like the shift in perspective and how such things tend to open your eyes to fresh looks at other things.

Two of the most interesting stories involve rivalries that are not as famous – one involving dinosaur bones and one involving athletic shoes. Both are just as fun, full of new information, and eye-opening. I promise you will never look at a dinosaur skeleton or a pair of soccer shoes in the same way again.

It still surprises me how much I learned from this short audiobook experience. The production uses the cast and sound with significant effect, even if they are enhancements and not part of the actual narrative. Rivals! Frenemies Who Changed the World would not be the same without them.

Rivals! Frenemies Who Changed the World is a great way to learn something new in the same amount of time it takes to watch a movie. The production is fantastic, but how Mr. McCormick presents his history makes it truly fun. His audiobook is proof that history does not have to be stiff and boring but can be funny and interesting in addition to informative.

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