This was a very uneven book. In parts it was utterly thrilling and fascinating, but other sections slowed to a crawl. I loved the first parts describing Nicolai Hel’s childhood and background - couldn’t stop listening. And I found the description of WWII from the point of view of the Japanese interesting, in spite of the anti-American sentiments expressed repeatedly, since these were directed against the corrupt politicians and the unthinking masses of consumers rather than against individual people themselves. There was a lengthy middle section, which was rather tedious, with an (for me) endless description of a caving expedition, which brought the plot to a grinding halt. I would have preferred more description of how Hel ended up with his chateau and his concubine to the lengthy and detailed depiction of dangerous caving. At this point I was also getting very tired of how every character has to constantly expound “bon mots” about other cultures. Then, for the last section, the story really picks up again. I loved the end, which was again suspenseful and overall satisfying. The narration was very good for the most part, although the narrator had difficulty with Arab accents. The other accents were highly convincing.
I expected a sensual love story taking place in Japan. What I got was a quasi spy novel with strong character development dotted throughout with excellent tidbits about people, governments, life choices, etc.
I say quasi-spy story because there is no actual espionage nor any mystery here about who did what and why to whom. However, the main character is a spy (now retired) and the majority of the book is about how he became that (backstory) and what he's going to do now with one last job plopped on his plate (the rest of the story).
The author has been admonished in some of the low-rated reviews for bashing Western societies and elevating Eastern and I can certainly say that there is fodder for that view in the book, its' just that I tend to actually agree with the author's poor view of industrialized, materialistic society (while I live nicely within it........). I found many lines and discussions that were so insightful I wanted to stop the recording and write them down (did not do, but should). I looked the author up on Wikipedia, after all, how could I not be intrigued by an author with only one name, obviously just a pen name? He is a intellectual, a professor, that indeed did "check out" of US society in favor of Europe, but he does not sound angry just realistic (to me).
My favorite aspect of the book was the insights. The narrator did a fine job, creating a different voice for different characters and I especially like the voice he chose for the main character as an adult. The story was unsurprising and incredibly long and involved but not bad.
I think you will enjoy this book if you enjoy learning how WW2 affected China and Japan (from an individual's point of view) and if you like a trained assassin with a heart who turns out to be the good guy (and if you don't mind FBI being the bad guys).
No. Nicolai Hel sounded much different in my head. Bit of a milk toast snob in this performance.
When Cagot dresses elegantly for the dinner party.
When he meets Madam Director.
Shibumi is well-written and the characters are well-developed. Stereotypes are used, but not overused. The plot moves along at a nice clip, occasionally pausing for a breather before taking off in a completely unexpected direction. Considering how long ago this novel was written, the author did an amazing job of predicting future technology.
The character of Nicolai Hel - he's complex, disciplined and very human.
Yes, but it would be a spoiler. It's very, very close to the end of the book and involves Nicolai and his concubine sitting in their garden.
I enjoy audiobooks generally. The action scenes are well read and exciting. There were a few long winded parts and they were more interesting in audio than reading, judging from the comments in my bookclub group.
Most of the time, I was very engaged and interested.
Good voices and reading style.
Not too much.
Like the books of Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum, Shibumi blends international intrigue, espionage and suspense. The main character's unusual blend of Western lineage and Eastern philosophy grants him exceptional abilities for dealing with a wide range of adversaries and challenging situations. Joe Barrett does a commendable job of bringing the variety of characters to life, especially by using convincing accents for Russian, Japanese, English, American and even Basque individuals.
Clearly written in the 1970s, this novel has technological aspects and a couple of cultural attitudes that make it dated. This does not interfere with the story or the suspense. Like Dickens, Tevanian knows an essential part of a good tale is a good villian. There are enough to spare in Shibumi.
One drawback is the order of the download. This is the second time a book I've purchsed has had the forst and second parts reversed. If not careful, the listener gets the end of the book first!
I enjoy the narrator as well as the story
ANOTHER BOOK WITH NO INTEREST TO THE LISTENER. I TRIED TO LISTEN TO THIS TRASH , NO GOOD
I live in the Seattle area and love to read or listen to books with a hot cup of tea and a cat on my lap when it is cold and raining outside
Adventure with Style...
Exploring caves and hunting down the bad guys, tuning the garden water features.
there are so many it's hard to choose only one...
Hard to put the book down...
Over the years I have read Shibumi several times and I am looking forward to reading/listening to it again...I have Shibumi in hard bound and this is the first time I listened to it being dramatically read to me. I like both ways of enjoying a good book.
I have recommended this book to any and everyone I've talked to in the last week. I thought it was absolutely amazing. Shibumi is the art of subtle awesomeness and this book is dripping with it.. Hilarious, witty, insightful, and classy, SHibumi has it all.
My favorite character? Like there is any debate. Nicholai Hel is maybe the most bad ass character of all time in any book ever. He make James Bond and Hason Born look like Girl Scouts. He is more suave than Bruce Wayne and could whip Batman in a fight. He is the sum total of all things that are manly and awesome.
I laughed hard several times while I was listening to Shibumi. It is pure genius.
Any of the other reviewers who gave this book a bad review must not have gotten it. It is nothing if not clever, and cleverness is lost on many people these days.
This is a book that takes one away to many exotic, interesting, intriguing places. Folks with limited imagination or intellect may find themselves fighting boredom, but here is a book that tours war-torn Shanghai, the game of Go, an American prison in post-war Japan, the fire-bombing of Tokyo, spelunking in the Basque Pyrenees, and other delightful side-trips. More than anything else, this book is FUN. It is NOT a serious, high tension drama with a devious plot. If anything, it is a melodramatic excursion in a fashion similar to The Eiger Sanction, or even the "spoofier" Loo Sanction. Joe Barrett's reading verges on pure genius.