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Historical

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Darwin8u

Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States Member Since 2011

A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

HELPFUL VOTES
7080
ratings
REVIEWS
394
390
FOLLOWERS
FOLLOWING
1180
14
  • "A GREAT, sweeping spy epic"

    Overall
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    One of those GREAT, sweeping spy epics. Furst stands right with le Carré (The Spy Who Came in From the Cold), Littell (the Company), and Mailer (Harlot's Ghost) in his ability to capture the ambiguity, color, temperature and texture of prewar Europe as well as the people and claustrophobia of War.

    I'm glad I decided to crack this spy nut. While there are segments here and there I didn't think were fantastic, on the whole, the entire novel was worth the time, effort, and credit. Spy fiction doesn't get much better than this. I read/listened to an earlier novel of his a few months ago (Mission to Paris) while traveling in E. Europe and almost ended my Furst journey before it began. I'm glad I went back to the beginning. Just based on this ONE novel, I'm about ready to commit to the next three or four Night Soldier novels.

    More

    Night Soldiers

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Alan Furst
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    Overall
    (498)
    Performance
    (304)
    Story
    (306)

    Widely recognized as the master of the historical spy novel, New York Times best-selling author Alan Furst takes listeners back to the early days of World War II for a dramatic novel of intrigue and suspense.

    Theresa says: "Chilling..Fantastic"
  • "Prewar Luftmensch examines Loyalty,..."

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    Alan Furst's great historical espionage novel, Dark Star is a prewar epic of Europe's moral ambiguities and shifting loyalties. Told through the eyes of Pravda journalist and Luftmensch (and sometimes NKVD spy) André Szara, the story stretches from Paris to Berlin, Warsaw, and even down to Izmir. In this novel Furst examines ideas of trust and suspicion, love and hate, magnetism and repulsion.

    It is a novel about the compromises good men make to survive, the power that a few evil men have over millions, and the sacrifices a few Luftmenschen make to save thousands. Ultimately, Dark Star is a story of the Russian and German nonaggression pact (Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact) at the beginning of WWII and how the Jewish members of Stalin's spy network were forced to make huge compromises to survive (most didn't survive) and how some were pushed into heroics because decency and the times demanded it.

    The magic of this novel is that Furst is able to unweave the complicated nature of the prewar spy alliances and show all the different threads and colors and never lose the reader. His prose is amazing. His characters are nearly perfect. One of my favorite historical spy novels of all time.

    More

    Dark Star

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Alan Furst
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (259)
    Performance
    (114)
    Story
    (110)

    Acclaimed author Alan Furst has written several historical fiction novels. In Dark Star, Andre Szara, a Polish journalist who becomes a spy for the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, is ordered to complete many tasks of espionage in Paris. Through Szara's character, the beginnings of World War II are revealed. George Guidall's gripping narration complements this suspenseful tale.

    Jeff Parent says: "Bright Star"
  • "Mouches volantes through dark visio..."

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    Story

    A non-typical Furst novel, 'Dark Voyage' is primarily centered on a Dutch captain (DeHaan), his multicultural crew, and the merchant marine perils that faced sailors from the Mediterranean to the Baltic seas. Every book Furst writes appears to grow from the same thesis, but stretch into entirely new areas. This was a nice deviation from his normal East European or Parisian locals.

    With every Furst novel, I become more and more amazed at the nuance of his novels. He seems content to write his novels in the periphery of history. His characters float past major events like mouches volantes through the dark vision of history. He wants to tell the story of minor characters, minor battles, minor countries that together all made a major difference in WWII.

    More

    Dark Voyage

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Alan Furst
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (45)

    May 1941. At four in the morning, a rust-streaked tramp freighter streams up the Tagus River to dock at the port of Lisbon. She is the Santa Rosa; she flies the flag of neutral Spain and is in Lisbon to load cork oak, tinned sardines, and drums of cooking oil bound for the Baltic port of Malmo. Only she is not the Santa Rosa, she is the Noordendam, a Dutch freighter that sails for the Intelligence Division of the British Royal Navy....

    Darwin8u says: "Mouches volantes through dark vision of history"
  1. Night Soldiers
  2. Dark Star
  3. Dark Voyage
  4. .

Ryan

Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 02-14-14 Member Since 2005

Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

HELPFUL VOTES
1328
ratings
REVIEWS
325
260
FOLLOWERS
FOLLOWING
382
14
  • "The meaning of the mystery & myster..."

    7 of 7 helpful votes

    On the surface, Umberto Eco's classic, The Name of the Rose, is a whodunit mystery set in a monastery in 14th century Italy. A perspicacious monk named William of Baskerville (an obvious nod) and his young assistant, Adso, who narrates the story as a much older man, arrive at the monastery, the scene of mysterious murders. Given that delegations from the Pope and Emperor, whose theologies have schismed, are about to arrive for a conference, and the air is already tense, William must get the root of the foul deeds. And, so, he puts to use his well-honed powers of observation and deduction in pursuit of ultimate causes. For, soon, an inquisitor will be arriving and things will get uncomfortable.

    However, it's the turbulent 14th century, and ultimate causes may not be so clear, given the differing schools of thought on the nature of good and evil, sin and salvation, power and poverty, or reason versus superstition that embroil Christendom. At its core, TNTR is a philosophical and somewhat challenging book. Eco isn't afraid to pause the action and throw ideas at the reader, or look backwards in time and trace the evolution of different heretical Christian orders. Though these elements are a little confusing at first, if the reader is patient, it becomes clear that many of the themes are timeless and familiar.

    This book is really a meditation on symbols and their meaning, the way ideas in our minds seek but never quite grasp the underlying reality, thus creating new ones. When does heresy stray from orthodoxy and become heresy, and what does each really mean? When does commitment to poverty become an act of violent revolution? What defines the line between sexuality that is good and sexuality that is a sin? How long do names, memories, and ideas hold onto an essence of something, when that thing is gone? When does reason lead us to answers, and when do our efforts to see through illusion create their own illusions? Is God simply the ultimate symbol, and what fearsome truth do we uncover in trying to peer beyond the veil?

    To me, these rich questions (which will probably bore the heck out of readers who have no interest in philosophy or medieval theology) made for a moving read. Gradually, the riddles of the story build: a library filled with secrets, a close-mouthed gatekeeper, a labyrinth (see wikipedia for a map), a mysterious book, a prophetic figure, and trysts and twists in the dark of night. The murders, as they take place, point to the signs of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations. And, indeed, the story does build to a kind of apocalypse, filled with symbolism that I found quite brilliant, even as it calls into question all symbols. I won't hint at what Eco places behind the final seals, but to me, the best endings are the ones that both meet your expectations and surprise you, and I think he pulled that off.

    If you're looking for an accessible thriller similar to the Da Vinci Code, don't bother. This novel is for people who want to fully engage their brains, and don't mind a bit of rereading to make sense of the pieces. Fans of Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, which has a lot of parallels, or of David Mitchell, might want to check this book out. It’s a little more “literary” than the works of both those authors, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been an influence on them.

    To audible listeners, I should let you know that the various problems with the download and recording described by others seem to have been cleaned up. There was some faint background noise in part 3, but nothing that bothered me.

    More

    The Name of the Rose

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Umberto Eco
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett, Nicholas Rowe, Neville Jason
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (53)

    The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. But his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths that take place in seven days and nights of apocalyptic terror. Brother William turns detective, and a uniquely deft one at that. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon-- all sharpened to a glistening edge by his wry humor and ferocious curiosity.

    Ryan says: "The meaning of the mystery & mystery of meaning"

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    • By Alex Grecian
    • Narrated By Nigel Carrington
    Overall
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    April, 1890: London wakes to the shocking news of a mass prison escape. The Scotland Yard Murder Squad now face a desperate race against time: If they don't re-capture the four convicted murderers before night settles, they'll vanish into the dark alleys of the London's criminal underworld forever. And in the midst of this mayhem and fear, the city's worst nightmare is realised: Jack the Ripper haunts the streets of London once more.

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UNABRIDGED) by William Shaw Narrated by Cameron Stewart

    A House of Knives

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    • By William Shaw
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    Overall
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    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 50 mins)
    • By L. Ron Hubbard
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    Overall
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    Story
    (0)

    When it comes to flying gliders, ace pilot Breeze Callaghan is as smooth as they come. He perfects a skill that will prove vitally important for decades to come - even into the jet age, as demonstrated by Captain Sully Sullenberger, who famously landed his disabled passenger plane on the Hudson River. Sully’s jet was brought down by a flock of geese, while Breeze is going up against a vulture named Badger O’Dowell. Both pilots are vying for a Navy contract, and Badger would love to shoot the Breeze...literally.

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    Story
    (0)

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UNABRIDGED) by James Carroll Narrated by David Doersch

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    • By James Carroll
    • Narrated By David Doersch
    Overall
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    Performance
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    David Warburg, newly minted director of the U.S. War Refugee Board, arrives in Rome at war's end, determined to bring aid to the destitute European Jews streaming into the city. Marguerite d'Erasmo, a French-Italian Red Cross worker with a shadowed past, is initially Warburg's guide to a complicated Rome; while a charismatic young American Catholic priest, Monsignor Kevin Deane, seems equally committed to aiding Italian Jews. Soon, Warburg discovers one of history's great scandals....

  • Secrets of Sloane House: Chicago World's Fair Mystery, Book 1 (






UNABRIDGED) by Shelley Shepard Gray Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

    Secrets of Sloane House: Chicago World's Fair Mystery, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Shelley Shepard Gray
    • Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
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    Rosalind Perry has left her family's rural farm in Wisconsin to work as a housemaid at Sloane House, one of the most elegant mansions in Gilded Age Chicago. But Rosalind is not there just to earn a living and support her family - she's at Sloane House determined to discover the truth about her sister's mysterious disappearance. Set against the backdrop of Chicago's Gilded Age and the1893 World's Fair, Secrets of Sloane House takes us on a whirlwind journey of romance and mystery.

    Anna says: "Christian fiction"
  • Sharpe's Eagle: The Talavera Campaign, July 1809: The Sharpe Series, Book 8 (






UNABRIDGED) by Bernard Cornwell Narrated by Rupert Farley

    Sharpe's Eagle: The Talavera Campaign, July 1809: The Sharpe Series, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Bernard Cornwell
    • Narrated By Rupert Farley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    The newly promoted Captain Richard Sharpe clashes with an incompetent colonel, leads his men in the battle of Talavera and earns himself a dangerous enemy. As Sharpe leads his men in to battle, he knows he must fight for the honour of the regiment and his future career. Soldier, hero, rogue - Sharpe is the man you always want on your side. Born in poverty, he joined the army to escape jail and climbed the ranks by sheer brutal courage. He knows no other family than the regiment of the 95th Rifles.

  • Death Comes to Pemberley (






UNABRIDGED) by P. D. James Narrated by Katie Scarfe

    Death Comes to Pemberley

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By P. D. James
    • Narrated By Katie Scarfe
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    Two great literary minds - master of suspense P.D. James and literary icon Jane Austen - come together in Death Comes to Pemberley, a bestselling historical crime fiction tribute to Pride and Prejudice. Conjuring the world of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and combining the trappings of Regency society with a classic murder mystery, James creates a delightful new story that will intrigue any fan of Jane Austen.

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  • Symptoms of Death: Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, Book 1 (






UNABRIDGED) by Paula Paul Narrated by Jessica Osbourne

    Symptoms of Death: Dr. Alexandra Gladstone, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Paula Paul
    • Narrated By Jessica Osbourne
    Overall
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    Nobles gather at the country estate of the Fifth Earl of Dunsford where a killer stalks the gilded halls. Each of the guests has a secret vendetta against the Earl, but when he's found murdered in his bed, the lords and ladies flee, placing the blame on a servant. The village's lady doctor, Alexandra Gladstone, discovers evidence to the contrary and finds herself trapped in a web of scandal, deceit, and ghostly appearances that could cost her her life.