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History & Criticism

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  1. 2.0 hrs • 9/27/2016 • Unabridged

    This official tie-in to the highly acclaimed film, The Birth of a Nation, surveys the history and legacy of Nat Turner, the leader of one of the most renowned slave rebellions on American soil, while also exploring Turner’s relevance to contemporary dialogues on race relations.This official tie-in edition to the highly acclaimed film, The Birth of a Nation, presents the philosophy and craft behind the making of the film, situating the film’s relevance not only within cinematic history but also within the greater dialog of race, subjugation and resistance. In addition to “My Journey with Nat Turner” by writer/director, Nate Parker, the book will also feature: “The Unbroken Chain of Enslaved African Resistance and Rebellion” by Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Daina Ramey Berry, “Slavery and (In)Justice During the Nat Turner Rebellion: History and Legacy of the ‘Rule of Law’ in America” by Alfred L. Brophy, “Nat Turner at the Crossroads: African Iconography and Cosmologies in The Birth of a Nation” by Kelley Fanto Deetz, PhD, and “Why Nat Turner Matters: The Importance of History in Contemporary Consciousness” by Brian Favors, MEd. More than just a tie-in this book seeks to educate the listener as to Nat Turner’s legacy and influence. By bringing together an array of artists and intellectuals, this book speaks directly to Turner’s importance throughout history and especially his relevance to contemporary social relations.

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    The Birth of a Nation

    2.0 hrs • 9/27/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 11.7 hrs • 9/13/2016 • Unabridged

    From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Read Literature like a Professor comes an indispensable analysis of our most celebrated medium, film. No art form is as instantly and continuously gratifying as film. When the house lights go down and the lion roars, we settle in to be shocked, frightened, elated, moved, and thrilled. We expect magic. While we’re being exhilarated and terrified, our minds are also processing data of all sorts—visual, linguistic, auditory, spatial—to collaborate in the construction of meaning.Thomas C. Foster’s Reading the Silver Screen will show movie buffs, students of film, and even aspiring screenwriters and directors how to transition from merely being viewers to becoming accomplished readers of this great medium. Beginning with the grammar of film, Foster demonstrates how every art form has a grammar, a set of practices and if-then propositions that amount to rules. He goes on to explain how the language of film enables movies to communicate the purpose behind their stories and the messages they are striving to convey to audiences by following and occasionally breaking these rules.Using the investigative approach readers love in How to Read Literature like a Professor, Foster examines this grammar of film through various classic and current movies both foreign and domestic, with special recourse to the “AFI 100 Years-100 Movies” lists. The categories are idiosyncratic yet revealing. In Reading the Silver Screen, readers will gain the expertise and confidence to glean all they can from the movies they love.

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    Reading the Silver Screen by Thomas C. Foster

    Reading the Silver Screen

    11.7 hrs • 9/13/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 5.7 hrs • 5/31/2016 • Unabridged

    A deeply original celebration of George Lucas’ masterpiece as it relates to history, presidential politics, law, economics, fatherhood, and culture by Harvard legal scholar and former White House adviser. There’s Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, the Bible, and then there’s Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting with down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams’ score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite, and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings. In rich detail, Sunstein tells the story of the films’ wildly unanticipated success and what it has to say about why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about the freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down. Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines new light on the most beloved story of our time.

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    The World according to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein

    The World according to Star Wars

    5.7 hrs • 5/31/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 11.3 hrs • 2/9/2016 • Unabridged

    An epic, mesmerizing oral history of Hollywood and Los Angeles from the author of the contemporary classic Edie Jean Stein transformed the art of oral history in her groundbreaking book Edie: American Girl, an indelible portrait of Andy Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick, which was edited with George Plimpton. Now, in West of Eden, she turns to Los Angeles, the city of her childhood. Stein vividly captures a mythic cast of characters: their ambitions and triumphs as well as their desolation and grief. These stories illuminate the bold aspirations of five larger-than-life individuals and their families. West of Eden is a work of history both grand in scale and intimate in detail. At the center of each family is a dreamer who finds fortune and strife in Southern California: Edward Doheny, the Wisconsin-born oil tycoon whose corruption destroyed the reputation of a US president and led to his own son’s violent death; Jack Warner, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants who together with his brothers founded one of the world’s most iconic film studios; Jane Garland, the troubled daughter of an aspiring actress who could never escape her mother’s schemes; Jennifer Jones, an actress from Oklahoma who won the Academy Award at twenty-five, but struggled with despair amid her fame and glamour. Finally, Stein chronicles the ascent of her own father, Jules Stein, an eye doctor born in Indiana who transformed Hollywood with the creation of an unrivaled agency and studio. In each chapter, Stein paints a portrait of an outsider who pins his or her hopes on the nascent power and promise of Los Angeles. Each individual’s unyielding intensity pushes loved ones, especially children, toward a perilous threshold. West of Eden depicts the city that has projected its own image of America to the world, in all its idealism and paradox. As she did in Edie, Jean Stein weaves together the personal recollections of an array of individuals to create an astonishing tapestry of a place like no other.

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    West of Eden

    11.3 hrs • 2/9/16 • Unabridged
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  5. 25.0 hrs • 8/21/2015 • Unabridged

    Star Wars is one of the most important cultural phenomena of the Western world. The tale of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker has become modern myth, an epic tragedy of the corruption of a young man in love into darkness, the rise of evil, and the power of good triumphing in the end. But it didn’t start out that way. In this thorough account of one of cinema’s most lasting works, Michael Kaminski presents the true history of how Star Wars was written, from its beginnings as a science fiction fairy tale to its development over three decades into the epic we now know, chronicling the methods, techniques, thought processes, and struggles of its creator. For this unauthorized account, he has pored through over four hundred sources—from interviews to original scripts—to track how the most powerful modern epic in the world was created, expanded, and finalized into the tale an entire generation has grown up with.

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    The Secret History of Star Wars

    25.0 hrs • 8/21/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    8.3 hrs • 6/23/2015 • Unabridged

    A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the wildly successful and beloved Back to the Future trilogy, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary Long before Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled through time in a flying DeLorean, director Robert Zemeckis, and his friend and writing partner Bob Gale, worked tirelessly to break into the industry with a hit. During their journey to realize their dream, they encountered unprecedented challenges and regularly took the difficult way out. For the first time ever, the story of how these two young filmmakers struck lightning is being told by those who witnessed it. We Don’t Need Roads includes original interviews with Zemeckis, Gale, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Huey Lewis, and over fifty others who contributed to one of the most popular and profitable film trilogies of all time. With a focus not only on the movies but also the lasting impact of the franchise and its fandom, We Don’t Need Roads is the ultimate listen for anyone who has ever wanted to ride a hoverboard, hang from the top of a clock tower, travel through the space-time continuum, or find out what really happened to Eric Stoltz after the first six weeks of filming. So why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here—and start listening! We Don’t Need Roads is your density.

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    We Don't Need Roads

    8.3 hrs • 6/23/15 • Unabridged
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  7. 1 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5 (1)
    8.4 hrs • 6/16/2015 • Unabridged

    In the summer of 1970, legendary but self-destructive director Orson Welles returned to Hollywood from years of self-imposed exile in Europe and decided it was time to make a comeback movie. It was about a legendary self-destructive director who returns to Hollywood from years of self-imposed exile in Europe. Welles swore it wasn’t autobiographical. The Other Side of the Wind was supposed to take place during a single day, and Welles planned to shoot it in eight weeks. It took twelve years and remains unreleased and largely unseen. Orson Welles’s Last Movie by Josh Karp is a fast-paced, behind-the-scenes account of the bizarre, hilarious, and remarkable making of what has been called “the greatest home movie that no one has ever seen.” Funded by the shah of Iran’s brother-in-law and based on a script that Welles rewrote every night for years, it was a final attempt to one-up his own best work. It’s almost impossible to tell if art is imitating life or vice versa in the film. It’s a production best encompassed by its star, John Huston, who described the making of the film as “an adventure shared by desperate men that finally came to nothing.”

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    Orson Welles’s Last Movie by Josh Karp

    Orson Welles’s Last Movie

    8.4 hrs • 6/16/15 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5 (1)
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  8. 7.1 hrs • 5/19/2015 • Unabridged

    Pop culture history meets blood-soaked memoir as a horror film aficionado and screenwriter recalls a life spent watching blockbuster slasher films, cult classics, and everything in between. Horror films have simultaneously captivated and terrified audiences for generations, racking up billions of dollars at the box office and infusing our nightmares with unrelenting zombies, chainsaw-wielding madmen, and myriad incarnations of ghosts, ghouls, and the devil himself. Despite evolving modes of storytelling and the fluctuating popularity of other genres, horror endures. The Horror of It All is a memoir from the front lines of the industry that dissects (and occasionally defends) the hugely popular phenomenon of scary movies. Author Adam Rockoff traces the highs and lows of the horror genre through the lens of his own obsessive fandom, born in the aisles of his local video store and nurtured with a steady diet of cable trash. From Siskel and Ebert’s crusade against slasher films to horror’s Renaissance in the wake of Scream, Rockoff mines the rich history of the genre, braiding critical analysis with his own firsthand experiences. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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    The Horror of It All

    7.1 hrs • 5/19/15 • Unabridged
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  9. 11.3 hrs • 5/12/2015 • Unabridged

    On March 2, 1965, The Sound of Music was released in the United States and the love affair between moviegoers and the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was on. Rarely has a film captured the love and imagination of the moviegoing public in the way that The Sound of Music did as it blended history, music, Austrian location filming, heartfelt emotion and the yodeling of Julie Andrews into a monster hit. Now, Tom Santopietro has written the ultimate Sound of Music fan book with all the inside dope from behind the scenes stories of the filming in Austria and Hollywood to new interviews with Johannes von Trapp and others. Santopietro looks back at the real life story of Maria von Trapp, goes on to chronicle the sensational success of the Broadway musical, and recounts the story of the near cancellation of the film when the Cleopatra bankrupted 20th Century Fox. We all know that Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer played Maria and Captain Von Trapp, but who else had been considered? Tom Santopietro knows and will tell all while providing a historian’s critical analysis of the careers of director Robert Wise and screenwriter Ernest Lehman, a look at the critical controversy which greeted the movie, the film’s relationship to the turbulent 1960s and the super stardom which engulfed Julie Andrews. Tom Santopietro’s The “Sound of Music” Story is book for everyone who cherishes this American classic.

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    The Sound of Music Story

    11.3 hrs • 5/12/15 • Unabridged
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  10. 6.0 hrs • 5/12/2015 • Unabridged

    Sonnets & Sunspots tells the story of one of the most beloved popular science series of all time and the charismatic educator who became an icon to several generations of students. The book is also a fascinating history of popular science programming in television and film, from its primitive beginnings to the twenty-first century. Along the way there are entertaining behind-the-scenes stories of each production and the personalities that were involved with them. Dr. Frank Baxter, a professor of English literature at the University of Southern California, became a science hero to millions thanks to his alter-ego, “Dr. Research.” Many students even became scientists because of Baxter and the Bell films, some of the most entertaining and informative shows ever made. As the tale unfolds we meet such people as famed Hollywood director Frank Capra, Walt Disney, legendary voice actor June Foray, Eddie Albert, Richard Carlson, movie mogul Jack Warner, James Burke of Connections fame, Carl Sagan of Cosmos, and a score of others. The book also chronicles the story of public television from its earliest beginnings, including the struggles of such pioneering stations as Houston’s KUHT and San Francisco’s KQED.

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    Sonnets & Sunspots by Eric Niderost

    Sonnets & Sunspots

    Foreword by James Burke
    Produced by Joe Bevilacqua
    Read by Nat Segaloff
    6.0 hrs • 5/12/15 • Unabridged
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  11. 1 reviews 0 5 4.4 4 out of 5 stars 4.4/5 (1)
    4.1 hrs • 1/6/2015 • Unabridged

    Patton Oswalt, New York Times bestselling author, comedian, and actor, shares his entertaining memoir about coming of age as a performer and writer in the late 1990s while obsessively watching classic films at the legendary New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Between 1995 and 1999, Patton Oswalt lived with an unshakeable addiction. It wasn’t drugs, alcohol, or sex. It was film. After moving to LA, Oswalt became a huge film buff, absorbing classics and new releases at least three nights a week at the New Beverly Cinema. Silver screen celluloid became Patton’s life schoolbook, informing his notions of acting, writing, comedy, and relationships. Set in the nascent days of the alternative comedy scene, Oswalt’s memoir chronicles his journey from fledgling stand-up comedian to self-assured sitcom actor, with the colorful New Beverly collective supporting him all along the way.

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    Silver Screen Fiend

    4.1 hrs • 1/6/15 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4.4 4 out of 5 stars 4.4/5 (1)
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  12. 21.6 hrs • 10/28/2014 • Unabridged

    There’s little debate that Robert De Niro is one of the greatest, if not the greatest screen actors of his generation and perhaps of all time. His work, particularly in the first twenty years of his career, is unparalleled: Mean Streets, The Godfather: Part II, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, and Raging Bull all dazzled moviegoers and critics alike, displaying a talent the likes of which had rarely—if ever—been seen. De Niro became known for his deep involvement in his characters and assumed those roles completely into his own life, resulting in extraordinary, chameleonic performances.  Yet little is known about the off-screen De Niro—he is an intensely private man whose rare public appearances are often marked by inarticulateness and palpable awkwardness. It can be almost painful to watch at times considering the powerful contrast to his confident movie personae. In this elegant and compelling biography, bestselling writer Shawn Levy writes of these many De Niros—the characters and the man. He seeks to understand the evolution of an actor who once dove deeply into his roles as if to hide his inner nature but who now seemingly avoids acting challenges, taking roles which make few apparent demands on his overwhelming talent instead. Following De Niro’s roots as the child of artists (his father, the abstract painter Robert De Niro Sr., was widely celebrated) who encouraged him from an early age to be independent of vision and spirit, to his intense schooling as an actor, the rise of his career, his marriages; his life as a father, restauranteur, and businessman; and, of course, his current movie career, Levy has written a biography that reads like a novel about a character whose inner turmoil takes him to heights of artistry. His many friendships with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Harvey Keitel, Shelley Winters, Francis Ford Coppola, among many others are woven into this extraordinary portrait of De Niro— the man and the artist—and adds a depth of understanding not before seen. Levy has had unprecedented access to De Niro’s personal research and production materials, creating a new impression of the effort that went into the actor’s legendary performances. The insights gained from De Niro’s intense working habits shed new perspective on his thinking and portrayals and are wonderful to read. Levy also spoke to De Niro’s collaborators and friends to depict his transition from an ambitious young man to a transfixing and enigmatic artist and cultural figure. Shawn Levy has written a truly engaging, insightful, and entertaining portrait of one of the most wonderful film artists of our time—a book that is worthy of such a great talent.

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    De Niro

    21.6 hrs • 10/28/14 • Unabridged
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  13. 0 reviews 0 5 4.8 4 out of 5 stars 4.8/5
    7.0 hrs • 10/14/2014 • Unabridged

    From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film, filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner. The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come. Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience, with interviews of his fellow cast mates and plenty of set secrets and backstage stories. With a foreword by Rob Reiner, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

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    As You Wish

    Foreword by Rob Reiner
    Read by Cary Elwes, featuring Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, Chris Sarandon, Andy Scheinman, Wallace Shawn, and Robin Wright
    7.0 hrs • 10/14/14 • Unabridged
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  14. 9.6 hrs • 9/1/2014 • Unabridged

    A century of the world’s most satisfying romances and funniest comedies, the most heart-stopping dramas, and the most chilling thrillers are embraced in this compendium of fifty-four favorite films. Kenneth Turan discovered film as a child left undisturbed to watch Million Dollar Movie on WOR-TV Channel 9 in New York, a daily showcase for older Hollywood features. It was then that he developed a love of cinema that never left him and honed his eye for the most acute details and the grandest of scenes. Not to Be Missed blends cultural criticism, historical anecdotes, and Hollywood insider controversy. Turan’s selection of favorites ranges across all genres. From All About Eve to Seven Samurai to Sherlock Jr., these are all timeless films, each underscoring the truth of director Ingmar Bergman’s observation that “no form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul.”

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    Not to Be Missed

    9.6 hrs • 9/1/14 • Unabridged
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  15. 20.0 hrs • 2/27/2014 • Unabridged

    In Pictures at a Revolution, Mark Harris turned the story of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967 into a landmark work of cultural history, a book about the transformation of an art form and the larger social shift it signified. In Five Came Back, he achieves something larger and even more remarkable, giving us the untold story of how Hollywood changed World War II, and how World War II changed Hollywood, through the prism of five film directors caught up in the war: John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. It was the best of times and the worst of times for Hollywood before the war. The box office was booming, and the studios’ control of talent and distribution was as airtight as could be hoped. But the industry’s relationship with Washington was decidedly uneasy—hearings and investigations into allegations of corruption and racketeering were multiplying, and hanging in the air was the insinuation that the business was too foreign, too Jewish, too “un-American” in its values and causes. Could an industry this powerful in shaping America’s mind-set really be left in the hands of this crew? Following Pearl Harbor, Hollywood had the chance to prove its critics wrong and did so with vigor, turning its talents and its business over to the war effort to an unprecedented extent. No industry professionals played a bigger role in the war than America’s most legendary directors: Ford, Wyler, Huston, Capra, and Stevens. Between them they were on the scene of almost every major moment of America’s war, and in every branch of service—army, navy, and air force; Atlantic and Pacific; from Midway to North Africa; from Normandy to the fall of Paris; and from the liberation of the Nazi death camps to the shaping of the message out of Washington, DC. As it did for so many others, World War II divided the lives of these men into before and after—to an extent that has not been adequately understood. In a larger sense and even less well understood, the war divided the history of Hollywood into before and after as well. Harris reckons with that transformation on a human level through five unforgettable lives and on the level of the industry and the country as a whole. Like these five men, Hollywood too, and indeed all of America, came back from the war having grown up more than a little.

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    Five Came Back

    20.0 hrs • 2/27/14 • Unabridged
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  16. 10.9 hrs • 10/1/2013 • Unabridged

    Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, here is an in-depth look at the world’s longest-running and most successful science fiction show. Airing the day after JFK’s assassination, the first episode, “An Unearthly Child,” humbly launched one of the entertainment world’s first super-brands. We begin with a look at the programming of the day and the original pitch documents for this family show before delving into the Daleks, which almost didn’t make the cut. After three years, first Doctor William Hartnell left, prompting the BBC to recast their hit rather than ending it, giving us the first “regeneration” and making television history. We follow the succession of doctors—including third Doctor Jon Pertwee, exiled to Earth with his Moriarty in The Master—and see how the program reflected the feminism of the 1970s while gaining mainstream popularity with fourth Doctor Tom Baker … until declining support from the BBC led to cancelation. Yet millions worldwide continued to enjoy the Whoniverse in syndication, novels, audio dramas, comics, and Doctor Who Magazine. A new age dawned in 2005 with ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston and a serious special effects budget. Tenth Doctor David Tennant helped rocket the series back to international popularity and a new era of spinoffs. With Matt Smith as eleventh Doctor, the show has become a success here in America, where it was long considered just a cult classic. Featuring discussions of the show’s concepts and characters and interviews and insights from producers, writers, and actors from across the years; current and former editors and writers of Doctor Who Magazine; and the titular heroes themselves, here is a rich, behind-the-camera investigation into the dazzling multiverse of Doctor Who.

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    Doctor Who

    10.9 hrs • 10/1/13 • Unabridged
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