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Extended Audio Sample Billy Budd Audiobook, by Herman Melville Click for printable size audiobook cover
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (6,996 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Herman Melville Narrator: Michael Lackey Publisher: Dreamscape Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2013 ISBN: 9781624069468
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In 1797, young Billy Budd is impressed into naval service. It is a perilous time for a British Royal Navy still reeling from mutinies and marauding French ships. When Billy is forcibly transferred to HMS Bellipotent, he evokes the wrath of John Claggart, the ship’s master-at-arms. Claggart falsely accuses Billy of conspiracy to mutiny, a charge that will have a profound effect on the fates of both seamen.

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Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Katherine | 2/14/2014

    " The edition I read was 99 pages. The longest 99 pages of my life. Should have been about 89 pages shorter. Ugh. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fawn | 2/12/2014

    " this makes me want to vapor in the groggeries along the towpath... whatever that means. yay melville! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Versel Rush | 2/8/2014

    " Read in my "Jurisprudence and the Law" class with Professor Powers at UT Law. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Meri L | 2/1/2014

    " As much as I love reading classics, I kind of hated this one. It was so confusing and hard to understand :( At least I got a 100% on my Literary Analysis Paper! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Chelsea | 1/30/2014

    " I read this as part of a Humanities course on Law and Language. I do not remember being particularly blown away; was happier reading Cabeza de Vaca. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah Messler | 1/30/2014

    " Why didn't I love this enough! What did I do wrong! Herman . . . I am sorry. Maybe I will read it again sometime. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eden | 1/28/2014

    " The only people I would recommend this book to are those who wish to sample Melville's writing without having to commit to wading through Moby Dick. Amazing how the man could take a relatively simple plot that would occupy a few pages and stretch it to novella length. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melanie Kittleman | 1/26/2014

    " This book opened my eyes in high school. It made methaphor tangible. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 1/21/2014

    " I had a boyfriend who was the lead character in a college play...I think I could have recited lines from this in my sleep. I attended a preposterous amount of rehearsals and performances...and I don't think the play (as it was performed) was all that great at the time but hard to tell, I was too deeply in like... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Demosthenes | 1/16/2014

    " The worst punishment I could imagine my hell to be is reading this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob | 1/16/2014

    " Listened to this on the way to Hilton Head for fall break, 2007. Exciting story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gabriela | 1/15/2014

    " I thought this was hard to read but very interesting writing style! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 1/14/2014

    " I think that I was one of the only students in my high school American Lit. class that liked Billy Budd. It's actually my favorite Melville story. It's just packed full of injustice and bravery in the face of unbeatable odds. Just the kind of thing that can really hit that nerve that teenagers have that makes them acutely aware of injustice and persecution. Reading Melville is no cakewalk, and I would never claim that he's one of my favorite authors. But I did like Billy Budd. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maggie | 1/9/2014

    " as metaphor and as captivating story, this one is nonpareil as far as i am concerned! can i give it 7 stars? i would if i could. it is a timeless and extraordinarily accurate portrayal of the scapegoat (and mimetic) mechanism in human culture. deargoodness. this work is perfect AND priceless. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 barry | 1/6/2014

    " i think it is my all time favorite melville piece. have read it many times "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lady Danielle aka The Book Huntress | 1/5/2014

    " I like the Christ metaphor, but I found this one dry and hard to read. I had to force myself to get it read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kaili | 1/4/2014

    " Honestly, I had to read this book for my freshman year and I honestly did not like it. Excuse my youthful opinion, but I didn't like the ending, the characters.. It's just not my thing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ed Lehman | 1/2/2014

    " I had to rate this just three stars. Melville's language, although clear and distinct, is just so overdone. I used to think this was just an affectation of his times...but, having more recently read other authors of the era...or slightly afterwards...I realize that isn't necessarily so. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chuck | 12/23/2013

    " Herman Melville's last book which he never published. It was written in the year of his death [1891], fifteen years following his previous novel and forty years after Moby Dick. It was not published until the 1920's. It is a morality play reminding me in that way of Hamlet. It was one of those efforts that every literature professor alive would ask his students to do a discourse on what Melville was really trying to say. You must forgive them, however, because back then they didn't have 24 hour television and Wikipedia to tell them. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Randall | 12/23/2013

    " Let me preface this by saying I had to read it for class last week, so it started out at a disadvantage. It was ok, but nothing special. The plot seemed secondary to Melville's digressions, which while not completely without merit, always worry me in a work so short. That aside, the plot was not terribly interesting and, except for the pivotal scene, predictable. I'm also angry that I had to read it for class, and we only discussed it for 20 minutes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristin | 12/21/2013

    " Okay, Melville really can be painful, but he's practically obligatory in AP, so we got through this novella that's anything but a quick read. However, the story of the Christ-like Billy Budd makes you think critically about issues of the law & justice. (We put him on trial in class!) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert | 12/20/2013

    " I really enjoyed this famous tragic short story. Not for the light reader. Take your time and keep your dictionary close at hand for a brilliant story about the forces of good and evil. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thomas | 11/25/2013

    " Call me crazy, but I still don't see where this is a "gay book". "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Frank | 9/22/2013

    " I just can't warm to anything by Melville, it seems -- with the only possible exception if Bartleby. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fawn | 9/21/2013

    " this makes me want to vapor in the groggeries along the towpath... whatever that means. yay melville! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bob | 9/2/2013

    " A sad, beautiful story. Some are just too good to live "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ed Lehman | 8/14/2013

    " I had to rate this just three stars. Melville's language, although clear and distinct, is just so overdone. I used to think this was just an affectation of his times...but, having more recently read other authors of the era...or slightly afterwards...I realize that isn't necessarily so. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rachel Rogers | 7/19/2013

    " School assignment when I was in middle school. HATED IT! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sharon | 7/10/2013

    " Read this in freshman English and hated it. According to my essay, Melville was apparently good at characterization, but all I remember is his wordy writing and his casting Billy as a Christ-like figure. I've never read any other Melville. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Debra | 7/3/2013

    " why does so much 'great' literature suck? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Crystal | 10/2/2012

    " I just started this book. I have to read it for Honors English Class. I can't really make a judgement about it right now, but I soon will. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kevin Mcpherson | 9/11/2012

    " I laughed when there was a heated discussion in one episode of The Sopranos about this book. Not one of my favorites, but not terrible, either. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clif Smith | 9/10/2012

    " There is so much to this short work that I could go on for days talking about it. Great story, characters, symbolism, theme, etc. One of the best I have ever used in the classroom. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Austin | 7/24/2012

    " It's an adventure story about a sailor and his bad fortune in a long work journey and a lot of nice story which make you don't move until finish at least one chapter even. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Beth | 7/18/2012

    " Haven't I said it already? Melville and I? Not friends. Sorry, dude. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jake | 5/21/2012

    " I was bored out of my mind reading this book. I haven't read Moby Dick yet and after reading this, I have my doubts about even starting it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia | 5/18/2012

    " This is not as compelling a sea tale as that of Moby Dick, but it is thought provoking and a sad tale of naivety, innocence, hatred, anger, frustration and more. A classic. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Dena | 4/29/2012

    " I had to read this book twice: once for honors English and once for Political Science. Hated it both times. Therefore, I was made president of The Billy Budd Society (BBS) at ETSU, which required that all members must never have read Billy Budd or have hated it if they did. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 GeekChic | 3/16/2012

    " Can I give a book negative stars?? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Morgan | 1/24/2012

    " Tragic short story that actually took me a really long time to get through. What else was I to expect from Herman? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Collin Johnson | 11/27/2011

    " a tough read but rewarding "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clif Smith | 11/8/2011

    " There is so much to this short work that I could go on for days talking about it. Great story, characters, symbolism, theme, etc. One of the best I have ever used in the classroom. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jack | 10/30/2011

    " From what I understand, this novella grew out of a footnote Melville provided for a poem, which appears at the end of the story. I'm actually quite partial to the poem more than the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Austin | 9/9/2011

    " It's an adventure story about a sailor and his bad fortune in a long work journey and a lot of nice story which make you don't move until finish at least one chapter even. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Aria Smith | 8/18/2011

    " I have a serious issue with any book that has a chapter called: "A Digression." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Miranda | 6/22/2011

    " One of my all time favorite novellas. I read this at least once a year. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Purple_koco | 6/16/2011

    " A certain trait of his was excessively talked about wasting many chapters. Whole anecdotes that were not understandstandable. The only reason I finished it was because I was forced. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 6/15/2011

    " Good vs. Evil plain and simple. My prep school drama club did this one. Good job too. No, I was
    not in that club. Just the audience. Date read is a guess. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Don Incognito | 6/5/2011

    " So you wonder why Billy Budd is so blunt and unsubtle in its symbolism? Simple: it's supposed to be a parable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 6/4/2011

    " before this Am Lit class, I hadn't read this text. once I assigned--and began hearing complaints from students about how hard it was--I doubted my intentions. but as I read it yesterday, chuckling as I did, I knew it was a good choice. I really do like Melville and this seems quintessential him. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ke | 6/4/2011

    " I liked how the novella mixed an essay style with fiction. While it was a bit difficult at times, I found that I learned a lot from reading it. Especially about life on the ship and how a mutiny can be seen as a battle. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Chelsea | 4/4/2011

    " Emily was right. Booooo Billy Budd booooo "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kerri | 3/24/2011

    " WTF did I just read. No clue what happened. Thank god the last chapter had a quick sum up of events. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Luke1992 | 3/21/2011

    " Wish I could've given it a 3.5 "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jack | 3/7/2011

    " Interesting Insites into navel history.
    library book sale. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 2/19/2011

    " Reading Project Gutenberg, and too lazy to create a new book to prove it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jim | 2/14/2011

    " This book was left uncompleted at the time of Melville's death. It is not in the same league as Moby Dick. Melville was not particularly successful as a writer, and this book tends to show that. Perhaps he only had one truly great book in him. "

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About the Author
Author Herman Melville

Herman Melville (1819–1891) was born in New York City. Family hardships forced him to leave school for various occupations, including shipping as a cabin boy to Liverpool in 1839—a voyage that sparked his love for the sea. A shrewd social critic and philosopher in his fiction, he is considered an outstanding writer of the sea and a great stylist who mastered both realistic narrative and a rich, rhythmical prose. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumously published novella Billy Budd.

About the Narrator

Michael Lackey has more than thirty-five years of professional theater and music experience. He is a stage veteran of more than forty productions and has performed with four companies of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, doing more than three thousand performances and playing the title role more than two hundred times. He can also be heard on national television as an announcer for skating specials on NBC and USA, as well as in several commercials.