Note: This is a review of the audio book version of The Partly Cloudy Patriot.
In most cases, the audio edition of a book is, at best, equal to the printed edition. Equal enjoyment can be derived from each. This is the rare case where the audio outshines the printed.
Simply hearing the essays in Sarah's own nasal tone adds much to the enjoyment. Some may find Sarah's voice annoying, but they should try to get past that and listen to her earnest inflection and tone. Many of the stories in these essays are taken from the author's own life. Hearing her relate them in a sad or excited or sarcastic tone give us much more insight into how these experiences made her feel.
What really makes the audio edition soar are the additions in the form of celebrity cameos and bumper music by They Might Be Giants. Instead of the author reading the many historical or personal quotes in the book, celebrities have been brought in to read them. This sets the quotes off from the rest of the narrative. The quotes from George W. Bush and Al Gore are made even better by uncanny impressions. The TMBG bumper music helps to set the scene or sum up the essay. The songs at the end of the end of the "Pop-A-Shot" essay and in the middle of the "God Will Give You Blood to Drink..." essay are especially funny.
Hardcore conservatives should be aware that Vowell is unabashedly liberal. If the mere thought of a liberal point-of-view turns you off, you'd best stay away from this book. However, if you can keep an open mind and try to share in the author's earnest patriotism, you are in for a treat.
This book had me going to the bookstore looking for other Sarah Vowell books that aren't available in audio, even though I don't know when I will find the time to actually read them. No other audio book has done that. This book is highly recommended.