retired litigation lawyer; I read history; historical fiction; literary fiction. Narrator ++ important. Story equally so
Bit of background first. In anticipation of the second volume of Ken Follett's Century trilogy, to be released next month, I reread - in print form - " Fall of Giants" -which I had as an audiobook when it was first released. " Giants" is an excellent, compelling story of characters caught in WW 1, English, German, Russian and American. I usually confine my reading to WW 2, so re reading "Giants" sparked my interest to learn about the first World War. I purchased ( audiobook) "Guns of August" but gave up on it both because of Ms. Tuchman's excessive detail without context and also because it is more about the battles than the causes of the war, [gave up notwithstanding John Lee's narration]. I switched mid-listen to "A World Undone". Much, much better. Not only is the writing clearer, giving more of an overview of the war without getting lost in the "right flank went there, left flank stormed back", but each chapter provides a short "Background" giving the context of, for example, " The Serbs"; "The Hapsburgs"; "The Romanovs" or "Paris in 1914" "Tthe British commanders" " The Jews of germany" " The Sea war;" etc. By its conclusion, I had an understanding not only of individual battles, (which didn't interest me), but an explanation of what the world was like before the war; the causes of the war; personalities of the war; and a little bit of its aftermath.If you want to get an introduction to the causes and the personalities of WW1 choose this. If you want detailed explanation of the battles, choose Guns of August
Everything!!!. His pacing, his voice, his monotone. Terrible. This is one of the rare exceptions to my rule that narration is as important as story. Seldom will I invest 27 hours to a very poor narration. I did in this case because of the content.
?? well, not all 27 hours...... but yes, finished it before I started others.
can't wait for the sequel to "Fall of Giants", due September 2012.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
I'm sure that this is likely a very well written and researched work. However, this is yet another mismatch of book and narrator. I'd be more likely to recommend the print version rather than the audio book because Robin Sachs, an otherwise good narrator, brings none of his considerable talents and skills to bear in this book. A totally wasted opportunity!
I never give up on a writer based on one, or even 2, books. There's often a "perfect storm" at bay which causes some books and their narrators not to "gel". Often all the next book needs is a different narrator or the same one approaching the story from a different angle.
Of course. I've listened to quite a few of Robin Sach's narrative and have been more than satisfied. The problem here is a very factual and dry commentary that will put the reader to sleep unless the narrator goes above and beyond the call of duty to make the story interesting.
Only with another narrator.
Poor pairings of stories and its readers are the fault of the audio producers. Many don't pay attention to the production once the "Play" button is pushed. As in all areas of the recording industry, the audiobook genre MUST step up to the plate and start to bring its "A Game".
I was used to history books beeing boaring and monotonus, this book however is a completely diferent storry The author (this genius) has dedicated aprocsimatly 1 in 3 chapters (backround chapters) giving illuminating backround information about familly histories, historycal gossip and nasions history enableing you to follow the book even if you do not know what planet earth is. Further more he also gives such info even in the other chapters wich are more conserned in political and strategical events. I must also give credit to this fantastic narrator wich in my oppinion does a superb job not only by his general tone of voice, but also my bringing to life the words of long dead men. (listen to sample) To conclude i really beleve this book is a must reed if you are interested in history
I learned a ton, and I learned it in a very well structured way. The story of WW1 is intricate and a retelling could easily become convoluted. The structure of the core history interspersed with background sections is genius.
The people who looked at the situation and reacted and changed appropriately. John Monash for example.
Robin Sachs did a great job - but not really the right question since he isn't performing characters in this book - it's a history book. He does a good job reading some direct quotes though.
The description of young British soldiers advancing, singing, shoulder to shoulder at the Somme, and being mowed down by German soldiers - who eventually stopped firing because they were so sickened by the butchery.
The very top.
Organization. Presentation. Comprehension.
The first battle of the Marn August 1914. Listened several times and even googled battle maps.
I did so. And then much of it again.
A World Undone is an excellent one volume history of World War One that manages to weave together the story of the wars various fronts in a coherent, understandable narrative. This is no easy task with WWI, one of the most complex events in human history.
This is an very approachable book that provides enough background information to be easily accessible to a reader that is not well versed in the subject. It is also detailed and comprehensive, and contains a lot of information that I, a huge WWI buff, did not know about before reading this.
If you want to understand World War One, why it happened, why it was important, and the events and human experiences that defined the conflict, then this is the book for you. I have never read/listened to a one volume history of the war that does as effective a job as this book at telling the story of the Great War.
For a novice historian with no real knowledge of the events of WWI to compare this book to, it was a real eye-opener. I drive a couple of hours a day for my job and during that time I listened to this book. Most days I would enter work or home nearly in tears thinking about how avoidable this war was and the pure carnage that took place during it.
What would our world have been like if this, and the second world war, never have taken place. All the uniquely talented young men who senselessly died, along with the destruction of so much material goods; what would this world have been like today. I just can't imagine how much better we would have been.
If you have any interest in learning about the who, what, where, when, and hows of WWI this is an excellent book and I would highly recommend it.
The categorization of different elements important to the story. For example, after presenting historical elements relating to Kaiser Wilhelm, there was sort of a "flashback" element entitled "Background: the Hohenzollerns". This went on for the Hapsburgs, the leadership of the Central powers, the leadership of the Triple Entente, and so on. These segments were entertaining, informative, and, I found, essential to "keeping up" for the amateur historian.
Related to the above comment, the detailed description of an event laced together with the background information about the individual players.
The very detailed accounting of the fight for Verdun.
There were several elements that moved me, but all were related to the individual accounts of members present at the scene of events described.
A suggestion for the best way to listen to this book: I opened an interactive time/event map website and left it open while listening to the book. I could update the years on the website while I listened to the book and was able to follow the movement of troops on a map.
This is one of the books I should have purchased an accompanying "readable" book for. I might do so yet. This work is worth revisiting as I continue to read/listen about WWI.
Yes - the presentation was perfect. The print version would be nice to have as a reference though. I was very impressed with the amount of information provided in this work.
The Backgrounds provided at the beginning of several chapters. Not only does this book do an excellent job of thoroughly and fairly covering what happened between 1914-1918, but it provides necessary background to important events, battles, people and places, which are necessary to know before you can understand the significance they had in the War.
He didn't perform characters, as there weren't characters to perform.
I can't quite listen to a book that's 28 hours long, but it provided me a great month of listening to while driving to and from work.
If you want to have a well-rounded, in-depth, fair, balanced, well written and well read history of WWI, you need look no further. Get this book! You won't be disappointed!
MSU Spartan grad living in PDX. First book : London's Call of the Wild, Doyle's Holmes, and Herbert's Dune. History, Mystery, Sci Fi
Yes, it is a well arranged piece that both works at giving background as the story of the first World War marches forward.
I felt the chapters regarding the introduction of nerve agents into the wars, along with the perspectives on the commanding officers on either side gave a excellent demonstration on how the technology and tactics had gotten ahead of the human element. It almost felt as if the opposing sides had to learn how to fight again.
A balanced tone, he kept the story moving
No, this is a slug fest, just like aspects of the war.
One of the more enjoyable history texts I've come across. It did a better job of bringing the human elements to the forefront, than having it be bogged down in troop action and numbers.