I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This book should be read by anyone interested in the history of the CIA. I have rated this five stars, but this is not the perfect book, just a must read. The author clearly focuses only upon the failures of the CIA and glosses over any successes. Nevertheless, there is substantial value is focusing on failures (of course there is also value is focusing on successes, but that would be a different book). This book also does not seem to go out of its way to suggest tangible changes to improve the CIA.
The material is somewhat dry, and there is some jumping around. The narration is quite good, which helps keep the book interesting. This is not the best book about the CIA, but it is an indispensable viewpoint for anyone who wants to understand the agency.
This was a great book. I really found myself unable to put this down. I somewhat expected a dry, one sided, hatchet job. Instead this was detailed story starting with the early life of the clearly troubled founder of Scientology and continuing to the present day. I fully enjoyed the reading of every footnote. I did not really expect to, but I learned a lot. The writing and the narration were both quite compelling.
I have not been a fan of Scientology since a friend of mine joined, and after a few years called me having just escaped penniless and only wearing his underwear out of a window after a many hour auditing session with several people pointing out body thetons on him that were visible to them but not visible to my friend. I agree many of the ideas of Scientology are no weirder than any other religion, and I always thought the basic idea of auditing sounded interesting and potentially useful, but there does seem to be a pattern of secrecy and intimidation not seen elsewhere. This book presents a pattern of paranoia, violence; control, and hypocrisy with an intensity that is truly shocking. I would recommend anyone thinking about Scientology to read this book first.
Surprisingly this book covers quite a bit more than 1812. It begins at the second constitutional convention and ends at the eve of the civil war. The war of 1812 does not really get going until half-way through the book. The treatment of the early years covered many of the founders and events, necessarily lightly. The author also skirts some of the more controversial elements of the various characters, which seemed a bit weak. Otherwise this is an excellent history of the early years of the union and the war of 1812. The narrative shifts seamlessly between stories of characters and battle strategy and action. This was well worth the listen.
This Civil War history was written in a narrative format and is therefore very interesting to listen to. I occasionally bristled at what seemed to be the author's insensitive treatment of the issue of slavery itself, but this book was written in 1961 - considering the era, Catton's understanding of race relations was probably a bit ahead of its time, except among those who were considered radical a half century ago.
The narrator himself was okay - easy enough to listen to, but I couldn't give him a top rating after hearing his slight but inexplicable mispronunciation of the word "Allegheny".
Overall, I highly recommend Catton's history to any who want to know more about the Civil War and its causes.