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Mike From Mesa

Mike From Mesa Mesa, AZ Member Since 2003

MikeFromMesa

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  • "A very interesting book with some s..."

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    I have been reading about the Second World War for the last 50 years and so did not expect to find anything really new in this book. I bought it thinking that it would be good to have a single volume that covered both the European and Pacific theaters and with the thought that there might be something new and interesting in it. What I found was a book that was very interesting; not so much because of new material, but rather because the book centers on the "whys" of what happened and contained a great deal of "back story" about the time that is missing in other books (examples - the actions in North Africa before the German troops were deployed there, the importance of the spy operations on both sides, the actions in generally neglected threaters of the war such as Burma, the fact that the Germans had broken the British Naval codes and so on) as well as a good overview of the major actions of the war. Add to that the excellent narration by Christian Rodska, including his ability to make his voice sound exactly like many of the political figures of the time, and this is a hard book to top if you want something on World War 2.

    There are some inaccuracies -

    (a) a rise of 500 feet over a length of 1000 feet does NOT make a 45 degree hill. A simple check of the trig tables shows this to be about 27 degrees,

    (b) a quote from Churchill (to his war cabinet) wrongly attributed to Hitler,

    (c) a statement, with no supporting evidence, that Churchill invented the story of Lord Halifax almost being offered the premiership. This flies in the face of every other book about the period and thus requires some supporting evidence,

    (d) aside from the Philippine Islands, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, very little detail about the Pacific war (with nothing about MacArthur's island hopping campaign). I assume this is because MacArthur's troops were mainly American.

    as well as some other issues.

    But, aside from these minor issues, this book is very interesting, contains a great deal of information about the war in North Africa, the Soviet Union and Western Europe as well as an interesting section on what could have happened if the German Generals had control over the war in the Soviet Union and Europe. I recommend it to anyone interested in a single volume overview of the Second World War.

    More

    The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Andrew Roberts
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (431)
    Performance
    (354)
    Story
    (360)

    The Second World War lasted for 2,174 days, cost $1.5 trillion, and claimed the lives of more than 50 million people. Why did the Axis lose? And could they, with a different strategy, have won? Andrew Roberts's acclaimed new history has been hailed as the finest single-volume account of this epic conflict. From the western front to North Africa, from the Baltic to the Far East, he tells the story of the war - the grand strategy and the individual experience, the cruelty and the heroism - as never before.

    Mike From Mesa says: "A very interesting book with some shortcomings."
  • "Wonderful"

    Overall

    Occasionally I come across a book that is so good that I don't know if I should keep listening or turn it off for fear of finishing too quickly. This book is one of those.

    I think that Nadia May, who narrates this and other Barbara Tuchman books, does a wonderful job. Descriptions and events are clear and largely riveting. I have only 2 complaints. One is that not all of the French is translated into English and the other is that there are no maps. I had to get my John Keegan book on the First World War and look at the maps to understand exactly what was happening. However the first complaint is problably a lack in the original printed form of the book and the second is a drawback of narrated books in general. One would hope that given the new visual capabilities of todays devices the producers would find some way to include maps.

    I gave this book 5 stars and think it is worth every one. In my view it is better than either of the other of her books (The Proud Tower and The Distant Mirror) that I have listended to. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the events leading up to the First World War.

    More

    The Guns of August

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Barbara W. Tuchman
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1118)
    Performance
    (558)
    Story
    (545)

    In this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, historian Barbara Tuchman brings to life the people and events that led up to World War I. This was the last gasp of the Gilded Age, of Kings and Kaisers and Czars, of pointed or plumed hats, colored uniforms, and all the pomp and romance that went along with war. How quickly it all changed...and how horrible it became.

    Mike From Mesa says: "Wonderful"
  • "A different kind of history"

    Overall
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    This is one of many books that I have read about The Second World War over the years. I have read enough books about this period that I almost did not buy this one, but I found Mr Hastings' approach very fresh and very different. Instead of following battles through army and division movements Mr Hastings decided to follow the flow of the war through individual diaries and letters. This approach made the period much more personal for me and taught me, as no other book did, what the war was like for those who had to live through it. I was and have remained impressed by his presentation of the war.

    I also appreciated his global prospective. Here I read about the battles in the lesser battlefields of the war - Burma, India, China and so on. Previously I had to read books such as Stillwell And The American Experience In China to find much about what was going on outside of Europe and The Pacific.

    Balanced against the positives I feel the need to mention some negatives.

    1) Mr Hastings keeps referring to all information gained by breaking the enemy codes as Ultra in spite of the fact that the effort to break and utilize the German codes was known as Ultra and the effort to break and utilize the Japanese codes was known as Magic. Thus Mr Hastings refers to the information that helped the US win the Battle Of Midway as Ultra even though this information came directly from Magic. Similarly all such pacific intercepts are incorrectly referred to as Ultra. Perhaps this is a British term, but it is annoying for anyone who knows the history of the Magic intercepts.

    2) There is at least one reference to action taking place in 1952 instead of 1942. I do not have the print version of this book so I am not sure if the print is wrong or the reader just made a mistake. 1952, of course, was 7 years after the end of the war.

    3) There is one passage in the spoken book that refers to 40,000 US soldiers lost during a battle when, from the content, it is clear that it was German soldiers who were lost.

    There are a couple of other items of this sort. But the book is so well done and the diary and letters so revealing of what was happening, that it was easy to overlook them in rating this book. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this period of time and is not concerned with specific troop movements.

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    Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Max Hastings
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (226)
    Performance
    (188)
    Story
    (194)

    From one of our finest military historians comes a monumental work that shows us at once the truly global reach of World War II and its deeply personal consequences. Remarkably informed and wide-ranging, Inferno is both elegantly written and cogently argued. Above all, it is a new and essential understanding of one of the greatest and bloodiest events of the 20th century.

    Mike From Mesa says: "A different kind of history"
  1. The Storm of War: A New H...
  2. The Guns of August
  3. Inferno: The World at War...
  4. .

Melinda

Melinda UT 03-30-14 Member Since 2009

So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.

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  • "'Safe Return Doubtful'"

    14 of 17 helpful votes

    From one island to another; ten thousand miles away, but tens of thousands of years apart...

    I had a mental image at the start of Hoffman's novel: the privileged Rockefeller, a poster boy for REI, standing ankle deep in the swamp mud, surrounded by his equipment bearing entourage; pockets bulging with credit cards and currency, a million dollar smile, and those ubiquitous thick framed black glasses. Gazing back at him, the stone age Asmat people, smeared with ash and mud, bone-pierced septums, bare bodies bejeweld with the skulls and bones of small animals. Progressing from that freeze frame image, a gigantic round boulder suddenly rolling in Rockefeller's direction, the sounds of phhfftt, phhfftt, phhfftt, would have seemed perfectly in order, I was tensed for the attack. No one, including Spielberg himself, could have told this outrageous tale more vibrantly; so eloquently orchestrating the facts and myths to shed some light on the human condition, as well as the mystery.

    Hoffman, a travel journalist and contributing author/editor for National Geographic and Smithsonian, said in an interview that his goal in writing this book was not to solve the mystery of Michael Rockefeller. He wrote: “I [the author] hungered to see a humanity before the Bible, before the Koran, before Christian guilt and shame, before clothes and knives and forks.” By immersing himself in the Asmat culture, Hoffman came to understand far beyond clues, mythology, and hoaxes, what might have happened to Rockefeller, and fundamentally, why.

    The book has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. I've tried to figure out from which angle to approach a review. It's so much more than *just* the tale of Michael Rockefeller's disappearance -- which alone could rank among Into Thin Air, Kon Tiki, The Right Stuff, The Perfect Storm. Savage Harvest is back-stage access to an amazing story, a travel pass to trek along with a great story teller/ traveler and a public figure that was an avid adventurer on a quest. It is a revealing excursion through a political history, and an education of an ancient people with a complex spiritual system based on the conception of a dualistic, balanced cosmos...whose village was currently feeling very unbalanced and at odds with the modern concepts imposed on them. "The last great unexplored land," a remote island -- that was until as late as 1953, still practicing the ritual of head-hunting and cannibalism. Hoffman gives his readers a multi-faceted gem that has been crafted with skill and intelligence.

    Most impactful for me: The beginning of the book gives a sequence of Michael's demise, from the capsizing of the boat, to the horrific step-by-step ritual of preparing the body for consumption. But, it is Hoffman's wrap up. He concludes with an enigmatic look at another possibility -- which I will not reveal. In a few places, the book reads more like an educational piece than an adventure novel, restating facts, carefully alignment with objectivity, but the story itself is unimaginably fascinating and drives you forward smoothly over any little bumps. I have no complaints about the narrator, but I do think his voice will be a matter of preference. He neither added nor subtracted from the material.

    ***Perhaps you've gone to the Michael C. Rockefeller wing and seen the art of the Asmat people procured by Rockefeller (he was on his way to pick up a piece on his fatal expedition). The canoes, platters, shields carved from mangrove trees are impressive. The bisj (or bis) poles are hypnotic and eerie. The Asmat believe spirits of deceased ancestors inhabit the sacred wooden poles until their death is avenged. The symbols of the Asmat cosmology, indigenous birds, animals and insects, as well as symbolic references to headhunting, and the crowning phallic symbol, are intricately carved into the trees in cyclic rituals which accompany the death of a great warrior, headhunting raids, and as appeasement of evil spirits. You can also listen to Michael's twin sister and father talk about the pieces, their provenance: *Michael C. Rockefeller Expedition, collected 1961; Indonesia, Monu village, Unir (Undir) River region (upper); Culture: Asmat people.* And, you can hear twin sister Mary explain the thick black framed glasses her brother wore; Michael was dyslexic. All the Rockefeller money couldn't buy for Michael the artifacts, the Asmat had no need for money; they cost him chunks of tobacco, metal axes, ramen noodles, and possibly his life.

    More

    Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Carl Hoffman
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
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    Overall
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    Performance
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    The mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in remote New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world, and even Michael's powerful, influential family, guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story.

    Melinda says: "'Safe Return Doubtful'"

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    Historian Michael Warner addresses the birth of professional intelligence in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and the subsequent rise of US intelligence during the Cold War. He brings this history up to the present day as intelligence agencies used the struggle against terrorism and the digital revolution to improve capabilities in the 2000s.

  • A Book of Five Rings: The Strategy of Musashi (






UNABRIDGED) by Miyamoto Musashi Narrated by Alan Munro

    A Book of Five Rings: The Strategy of Musashi

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Miyamoto Musashi
    • Narrated By Alan Munro
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    This special edition of A Book of Five Rings contains one hour of traditional Japanese flute (shakuhachi) and 43 minutes of music by traditional japanese ensemble. The music appears track by track at the end of the two and a half hour audiobook and is included as wonderful compliment to this dynamic and elegant listening experience. Legendary 17th-century swordsman Miyamoto Musashi’s exposition of sword fighting, strategy, and Zen philosophy.

  • The Last Voyage of Colombus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition (






UNABRIDGED) by Martin Dugard Narrated by John McDonough

    The Last Voyage of Colombus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Martin Dugard
    • Narrated By John McDonough
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    New York Times best-selling author Martin Dugard writes the first account of Columbus’s little-known last voyage. Columbus’ famed 1492 expedition wasn’t his last. After tough times, he was given one more chance. But this voyage didn’t have the fortuitous accidents of 1492. Instead it brought a shipwreck and more violence and mutiny than ever before - pushing an aging explorer to his limit.

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  • Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them (






UNABRIDGED) by John McCain, Mark Salter Narrated by George Wilson

    Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By John McCain, Mark Salter
    • Narrated By George Wilson
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    In this insightful study, John McCain and Mark Salter examine the qualities that define great decisions. They also identify inspiring people who have engaged in difficult decision-making. Ranging from the political judgments made by Abraham Lincoln to the athletic trials faced by swimmer Gertrude Ederle, each chapter of Hard Call illustrates an exceptional choice made in challenging circumstances.

  • The Great Retreat of 1914: From Mons to the Marne (






UNABRIDGED) by Spencer Jones Narrated by Philip Franks

    The Great Retreat of 1914: From Mons to the Marne

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Spencer Jones
    • Narrated By Philip Franks
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    August 1914: In the sweltering heat, the fate of Europe hangs in the balance. Germany is hurling her forces into a carefully planned invasion of Belgium and France. Bound by an 1839 treaty to protect Belgium from any invader, Britain came to its defence. With the British Expeditionary Force numbering just 120,000 men, and dwarfed by the vast manpower of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II remains unfazed by this ‘contemptible little army'. But the BEF was, man for man, the best trained army in Europe.

  • Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story…and Why It Matters Today (






UNABRIDGED) by Edouard Kayihura, Kerry Zukus Narrated by Mirron Willis, Rosalind Ashford

    Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story…and Why It Matters Today

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Edouard Kayihura, Kerry Zukus
    • Narrated By Mirron Willis, Rosalind Ashford
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    For the first time, learn what really happened inside the walls of Hotel des Mille Collines. In Inside the Hotel Rwanda, survivor Edouard Kayihura tells his own personal story of what life was really like during those harrowing days within the walls of that infamous hotel and offers the testimonies of others who survived there, from Hutu and Tutsi to UN peacekeepers. Kayihura writes of a divided society and his journey to the place he believed would be safe from slaughter.

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