Audiobooks by John Meston

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  1. And Away... Audiobook And Away...
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  2. The Man Who Died Twice Audiobook The Man Who Died Twice
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  3. The Betrayals Audiobook The Betrayals
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  4. Win at Losing: How Our Biggest Setbacks Can Lead to Our Greatest Gains Audiobook Win at Losing: How Our Biggest Setbacks Can Lead to Our Greatest Gains
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  5. The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed Audiobook The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed
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  6. A Touch of Darkness Audiobook A Touch of Darkness
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  7. We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman's Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economi Audiobook We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman's Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economi
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  8. Silverview: The Sunday Times Bestseller Audiobook Silverview: The Sunday Times Bestseller
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  9. Flora's Travelling Christmas Shop Audiobook Flora's Travelling Christmas Shop
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  10. The Facilitator, Part 2 Audiobook The Facilitator, Part 2
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GUNSMOKE SEASON 1 Audiobook

GUNSMOKE SEASON 1

Set in Dodge City, Kansas, during the thriving cattle days of the 1870s, the Gunsmoke radio show was routinely called by radio drama enthusiasts “the best show of any kind and any time”. For nine years from 1952 to 1961, Gunsmoke dominated the airwaves as it portrayed the epic legend of the American West. The lead character of Marshall Matt Dillon, as played by William Conrad, was called the “Philip Marlowe of the old west”. Besides Conrad, the superb supporting cast included Parley Baer as Chester, Howard McNear as Doc Adams, and Georgia Ellis as Miss Kitty. After ending its nine-year run on radio, Gunsmoke made the transition to television where it ran for 20 years. (P)2020 Timely Audio from Public Domain recordings. Gunsmoke is a registered trademark of CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

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Gunsmoke, Volume 1 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 1

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

Gunsmoke was an adult western and was the creation of writer, John Meston, and producer-director, Norman Macdonnell. It absolutely took the country by storm. Variety Magazine, the show business journal, called it an amazing presentation, and The New York Times labeled it Something new and entirely exciting in radio. Listeners began sending in thousands of letters voicing their approval. Nothing like it had ever been heard on radio before and was a complete departure from earlier radio western programs such as Tom Mix, The Lone Ranger, and Red Ryder. The dialog, the sound effects, and the music were top notch. Program stories centered around the cattle town of Dodge City, Kansas in the 1870s, with William Conrad as Marshal Matt Dillon, Parley Baer as the marshal's assistant Chester Proudfoot, and veteran actor Howard McNear as country doctor Charles Adams. And the music of Rex Khoury added the final touches. If there ever was a program that accurately depicted the raw violence and danger of the early American west, radio Gunsmoke was it. On April 26, 1952, Gunsmoke aired for the first time on CBS Radio. Its effect was immediate and resounding. Variety Magazine, the show business journal, called it an amazing presentation, and The New York Times labeled it Something new and entirely exciting in radio. Listeners began sending letters to CBS giving their approval. CBS Radio knew it had a winner. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 1.

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Gunsmoke, Volume 10 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 10

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

Early on, Gunsmoke received the acclaim due it from both critics and the audience. One major reason for this was the program's dedication to authenticity. Not only could the audience hear the wind on the prairie or the clomping of horses' hooves common on other shows, but they heard sounds that made the show real to them. The keys on the ring clanging as Matt Dillon sorted through them before opening a jail cell door. The aged boardwalk groaning as someone walked across it, spurs dully slapping the wood. From creaking saddles to whiskey sloshing in glasses, Gunsmoke became known as the most real sounding Western on the air. The camaraderie between the actors who played on Gunsmoke, both the core cast and the company of recurring players who filled different roles each week, was legendary in its own right. Known as 'Dirty Saturdays', the recording sessions would ripple with laughter and pranks. But, when the light went on signaling time to record, the off color humor and the almost family like atmosphere that William Conrad often recalled went away and every actor became their character. Marshal Matt Dillon coldly walked the hard, bloody streets of Dodge City, looking for outlaws on every corner. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 10

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Gunsmoke, Volume 11 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 11

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

Originally a story editor for CBS, John Meston left that behind in 1953 and went to work full time writing Gunsmoke. The next three years, Meston essentially wrote every episode, numbering around forty scripts a year. Both Meston's contemporaries and researchers since saw this period as when Gunsmoke came into its own, truly defining what an adult western would be and becoming the classic show it is known as today. William Conrad described Meston's writing as "seasoned and highlighted by red streaks of magnificent violence" and having "a final total compassion with whatever the problem was." As a western aimed at adults, Gunsmoke pulled very few punches, especially where violence was concerned. Under the guiding hand of Meston, the program would feature many gruesome scenes and actions, often more horrifying than most of the horror programs on the radio. From the wholesale slaughter of entire families to men being tortured ruthlessly by outlaws or Indians to entire massacres and the aftermath of rotting corpses on the ground, Gunsmoke painted a wildly vivid and violent West for Marshall Dillon to protect. The show was populated with people who represented and ran the gamut of emotions, all colliding at some point with Dillon. The characters then acted as a balance, showing compassion or fear or a desire for vengeance, all very human reactions. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 11.

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Gunsmoke, Volume 12 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 12

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

Gunsmoke added a layer to Matt Dillon that many western lawmen in fiction did not have. He was a paradox. First and foremost, Dillon sought to keep the law he had sworn to uphold and protect those covered by that law. He also, however, in many episodes showed an understanding of human nature, of how good people could be driven to do bad things for complicated reasons. Sometimes this contradiction led him to make mistakes that he must fix by breaking the law. In other instances, he regretted having to see the punishment the law provides followed through. All in all, this makes Matt Dillon a very real and relatable character. The interaction between Matt Dillon and Kitty Russell was another interesting aspect of Dillon's character. Their relationship was rather subdued, and most agree that had much to do with just how poorly received a love affair between a lawman and a saloon girl might be. Georgia Ellis, the actress portraying Miss Kitty, saw what the two characters shared as an agreed understanding. Regarding Kitty's career as a lady of the evening before becoming the owner of the saloon, Ellis commented, "There was no forgiveness to be given because I don't think Kitty was available to anybody but Matt." This concept comes across often in the interplay between Matt and Kitty in various episodes. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 12.

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Gunsmoke, Volume 13 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 13

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

Authenticity was something that the creators of Gunsmoke strived for. A key locale in Dodge City for Marshall Dillon, Doc Adams, Chester, and Miss Kitty was the Long Branch Saloon - which actually existed for a brief time in the booming Wild West Town of Dodge City, Kansas between 1874 and 1885, before it burned down, never to be rebuilt. In order to achieve their goal of imbuing Gunsmoke with as much audio realism as possible, Norman Macdonnell and John Meston wrote dialogue that was often slow and halting, more like people actually talked. To add even more realism, Gunsmoke's sound effects were often multilayered with a subtlety that echoed with the deep vastness of the prairie frontier. Also, multi-layering sound backdrops were used against the dialogue of the characters. So when Marshall Dillon was speaking to Chester Proudfoot, listeners would hear extraneous background conversations, or playing kids shouting, along with neighing horses and barking dogs. These sounds, likely common in a busy western town like Dodge City, weren't typically used in other Westerns of the day. The focus was on dialogue and primary sound effects and music, which left many shows sounding exactly like what they were, programs produced in a studio. Fully investing its listeners in the experience, Gunsmoke sounded like Dodge City in the 1880s. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 13.

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Gunsmoke, Volume 14 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 14

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

Intent on setting it apart from other programs, the creators behind Gunsmoke focused on upending the traditional storybook ending in Westerns. Sure, The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, and others made mistakes. Yet these mistakes were just minor nuisances for the heroes. Marshall Matt Dillon was not a picture perfect radio Western cowboy hero - he was far from it and the people he tried to help were all too often placed in more dire circumstances than the ones he was trying to save them from. More than once, Marshall Matt Dillon failed and miserably so. He arrived too late to prevent a lynching. He amputated a man's leg in an attempt to save his life, but the patient died anyway. All too often Marshall Dillon played his hand after laying all his cards on the table and bitterly lost - and those missteps caused even Miss Kitty's faith in him to falter and waver. Several times, even his triumphs ended badly. There were also aspects of his job that Marshall Dillon hated, especially when he had to enforce laws he disagreed with, and he wasn't above voicing his disgust - something no Western hero before him had ever done. Dillon walked areas of gray often, while other Western heroes of the time were constantly pure. Sometimes Dillon even looked the other way. This made the Marshall more real to the listeners. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 14.

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Gunsmoke, Volume 15 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 15

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

Marshall Matt Dillon was different from the traditional Western hero radio archetype because he stood alone and had no real friendships. Dillon had only one person that he trusted in Dodge City, and that was Chester Wesley Proudfoot, an amiable expatriate from Waco. Though never directly implied in the radio series, there are some hints that Chester Wesley Proudfoot was of Native American Indian heritage. When Gunsmoke made the transition to television, Chester's surname was changed from Proudfoot to Goode, indicating Chester, in his radio incarnation, was indeed a "half-breed". Prior to Gunsmoke, characters of mixed ethnicities had a long and established history of being portrayed on radio as damaged goods, incapable of being trusted. The only previous exception to this stereotyping rule of radio Westerns was The Lone Ranger, which loudly spoke out against such prejudices. Chester officially working with Marshal Dillon was never actually set in concrete. While Chester was Dillon's friend, partner, and foil, his exact job title and status remained elusive throughout the series. Chester is first described by Dillon as his deputy in the episode titled "Post Martin" on December 13, 1952. Yet on July 5, 1954, Dillon states that Chester is not his deputy in the episode "Hank Prine." Whatever his job title was, Chester was Dillon's constant friend. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 15.

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Gunsmoke, Volume 16 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 16

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

The strength of Gunsmoke as a whole largely relied on the depth of every figure in each episode, from small quirks given to one time only roles to complex histories woven into the recurring cast. Doc Adams' back story slowly unfolded during Gunsmoke's first few years across the radio waves. Grumpy and grim, McNear slowly took the edge off of Doc, and Dodge City's resident medical become more fully fleshed out over the passage of years - which helped to make him perhaps the most intriguing Gunsmoke character of all. Yet when the real story of Doc Adam's past was finally revealed in the January 31, 1953 episode titled "Cavalcade" it rocked some established myths about Doc. Doc was really Calvin Moore, educated in Boston. He practiced as a doctor for a year in Richmond, Virginia. During that time, Doc was involved with a beautiful young woman who was also being courted by a wealthy young man. Determined to win the young lady's affections, the other suitor forced Doc into fighting a duel with him. After killing the man in a fair duel, Doc was forced to flee Richmond because he was a Yankee outsider. The young woman fled after him and they were married in St. Louis, but their wedded bliss was short lived. Two months later, she died of typhus. Broken hearted, Doc wandered throughout the territories until he settled in Dodge City seventeen years later under the name of "Charles Adams". Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 16.

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Gunsmoke, Volume 2 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 2

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

In the 1870s, Dodge City, Kansas was located at the end of a very long cattle trail called The Great Western Cattle Trail, The Dodge City trail, or The Old Texas Trail. During the American War Between The States, the Civil War, cattle herds in the State of Texas had grown very large, since the south did not want beef delivered to the north during the conflict. As a result, at the end of the war, a method had to be found to market the animals by driving them north on cattle trails to cities that had access to the railroad. Herd attendants, or cowboys, were hired for the fourteen hundred mile drive, By the time they arrived at the railhead after sleeping in the open, eating miles and miles of dust, being served bad chuck wagon food, and enduring foul cattle smells, they were ready for a rip roaring time, which sometimes led to conflicts with the townspeople and the law officers who were protecting them. Gunsmoke was an adult western and was the creation of writer, John Meston, and producer-director, Norman Macdonnell. It absolutely took the country by storm. Variety Magazine, called it an amazing presentation, and The New York Times labeled it Something new and entirely exciting in radio. Program stories centered around the cattle town of Dodge City, Kansas in the 1870s. If there ever was a program that accurately depicted the raw violence and danger of the early American west, radio Gunsmoke was it. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 2.

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Gunsmoke, Volume 3 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 3

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

It is 1872 and you are living 12 miles from town. Your wife is screaming in pain in her last stages of labor, about to give birth to your first born. You are frantic because you have no idea how to deliver a child. Suddenly, a horse drawn carriage pulls up out front. It is the doctor with his bag and his medical knowledge. You shout into the house to your wife that the doctor has arrived. Who is it? It is Doctor Charles Adams from Dodge City, Kansas, there to give assistance to this important event. He has been doing this type of thing for many years, birthing children, setting broken bones, and curing illnesses. He has even removed bullets from people, including the city's marshal, Matt Dillon. He is gruff at times, but he loves the people he tends and gives them the tender, loving care they deserve. Adams, portrayed by veteran actor, Howard McNear, is the only doctor in town and his importance there cannot be overstated, because without him, many people would have not survived the illnesses and injuries that overtook them. Everyone loves him as we become involved in the exciting, action filled stories of this early American town and its people. Variety Magazine, the show business journal, called Gunsmoke an amazing presentation, and The New York Times labeled it Something new and entirely exciting in radio. CBS Radio knew it had a winner. Listen to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 3

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Gunsmoke, Volume 4 Audiobook

Gunsmoke, Volume 4

Author: John Meston Narrator: William Conrad Release Date: October 2019

If Gunsmoke had followed the traditional, but strictly constrictive cookie-cutter programming format that most successful radio shows adhered to during the Golden Age of Radio, then it would have been a dismal, half-remembered failure of a great idea for a Western adventure series done in by the rigid production values of the era in which it was first produced. Yet, Gunsmoke's popularity amongst listeners and ratings successes were allowed to grow because of the network's willingness to produce a regularly scheduled show without a sponsor of any kind for the program's first two seasons. Gunsmoke came into existence because CBS Chairman William S. Paley was a great fan of hard- boiled detective stories - especially those featuring his favorite fictional detective Philip Marlowe. Paley, who was "the" majority stock holder in CBS at this time, was also a fan of the "adult" Western novels of Louis L'amour, Max Brand, and Tom W. Blackburn, just to name of few. Paley wanted a unique, hard-boiled Western radio show that centered on the adventures of the Philip Marlowe of the old West." Thrill to the Sparkling Audio Quality in Radio Archives restoration of Gunsmoke, Volume 4.

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