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James A. Stewart
AudioFile, February 2004

Published more than thirty years after Herman Melville's death, this unfinished novel tells the tragic story of Billy Budd, a sailor pressed into service on the HMS Indomitable, a British frigate. Although popular with his shipmates, Budd incurs the wrath of Master-at-Arms John Claggart, a situation that builds up to a deadly confrontation. Many of Melville's unpolished passages read like philosophical ruminations rather than dramatic narrative. William Roberts uses this to his advantage, narrating with the persuasive tone of a debater. His reading will leave listeners pondering Budd's situation even after the novel is finished. The musical excerpts seem superfluous in the early chapters but underscore the drama later as Budd's situation becomes clearer.





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