"fabric artist and quilter"
This was a most interesting book - we all know about Henry 8 and Elizabeth 1 and probably know about Bloody Mary and the fact that Edward, H8's only son, reigned for a short time but the first in the Tudor dynasty is glossed over. After this book I don't understand why - Henry VII is a most interesting and complex man. He was also a most unfortunate and unlucky man loosing his son and heir and his wife in quick succession - he never full recovered from that despite the fact his second son was to go on to be the most famous King in English history.
There was lots of information and interesting facts and it has rewetted my appetite for all things Tudor. I enjoyed the book and recommend it for those interested in Tudor history and to those that want to know more about H8's father.
Being an Englishman by birth the Empire was in my blood. My greatAunt's brother in law was something big in the Indian Raj, my GreatUncle mapped the Red Sea, my Grandfathers both fought in it and my parents mourned its passing as though it were a personal loss to the family.
These three books were filled with fabulous information about all the possessions that made up the empire but particularly about India. I found it all totally fascinating. It was often unbelievable stuff, a country tamed by a courageous individual, daring dos by heros straight out of comic books (or an asylum!) or battles won at tremendous cost either to the English or the natives.
There was great humour and terrible sadness and all read by Roy McMillan who did a superlative job at narrating it with perfect accents for all the different quotes by great statesmen or colonialists or dominion politicians. Kipling got a good look in as did Churchill and Jan Morris marked the end of the Empire by Churchill's death - he was the last of the true imperialists. Jan Morris visited many of the countries he wrote about and it came across as a personal view of the Empire which made it all the more vivid.
I loved these books and can not but recommend them most enthusiastically for all history buffs. I know that I will be back to listen to it all again at some stage and as it is some 80 hrs long you don't do that unless you really really enjoyed it!
Poor George III wasn't mad but suffered from Porphyria which gave him delusions and many other problems and clearly was unfit to rule so in stepped his hated son Prinie, Prince George Prince of Wales as regent for 10 years. Corpulent, libertine, spendthrift, his wife was banned from court, he was deluded part of the time and the rest of the time confused, unwell and on a shopping spree that knew no end. It was not a balanced or easy time in England's history - we were at war with Napoleon, and with the United States and at war with the peasantry and mill workers at home.
It was no wonder those that had money spent it like water they didn't know if they had a tomorrow. Listening to the outrageous spending had me open mouthed gasping for air like a cod fish on the deck of a ship.
It was most interesting to listen to as a back ground to the Jane Austen's I've recently read but it didn't provide much back ground to them but it was very revealing listening. Sit there, gasp, and clutch your pearls in surprise as you listen to the excesses that went on - its most interesting.
Few books detail the suffering of the Polish people during and after the Second World War. That being the case, I'm grateful that Anne Applebaum researched and wrote this book as the information contained therein is rare and valuable. I found her description of the Eastern European social context at the close of the war to be especially so.
She treats horrors visited upon the Poles, Ukrainians, Hungarians, Czechs, Germans, and Jews with incredible clarity and with a rare touch that brings context to those horrors and allows for an appreciation of suffering by one or other group that does not diminish horrors visited upon others.
Her work here is admirable.
Unfortunately, the book does not hang together especially well.
She structures the book in chapters each describing a component of Soviet occupation (Policemen, Violence, Ethnic Cleansing, Radio, Politics...). Each of these components combine to create a context within which Soviet occupation was able to take root, grow in influence, and "flower" into its particular flavor of totalitarianism.
Each chapter then contains a series of anecdotes that describe how the chapter subject was realized in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.
In theory, the above structure could work well, but I had trouble with it in this book.
Any overarching thread felt subsumed by anecdotes. Chapters launch into episodes about Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia but without a clear sense of how each anecdote or episode fits into a larger thesis. Some chapters have a closing few sentences that draw back to a central notion, but while reading, I lost a sense of what about a given anecdote was important. And then, without a paragraph to help put the story just heard into a broader framework, another anecdote would follow. So I was left with a collection of stories without a concrete feeling of why each was important or how it fit into a broader picture.
The author has done quite a bit of research and she's eager to demonstrate it through the inclusion of quite a bit of detail. I wish she would have provided more interpretation of that detail to lend the book greater coherence.
I will recommend this book to friends and colleagues because its subject is so important and books about it are so scarce. I will however not recommend it unreservedly.
The narrator is capable and improves after the opening section which is made up of a series of quotes. Unfortunately, her pronunciation of Polish place names is frustratingly mediocre, as though she didn't approach their pronunciation seriously. Aside from that, she improves over the course of the reading and is not unpleasant. This is not an easy book to narrate and the narrator does pretty well to lend shape to text that hasn't much shape on its own.
She deserves 4 stars in general, but her pronunciation mistakes are so careless that I remove a star.
The subject of the book is important enough to lift the "overall" star score though its realization here is imperfect.
It's a worthwhile read.