This book is not bad and, since it is available as an audiobook, I was glad to read it. Moreover, the book is quite strong in places. I was particularly taken by the depth and detail of Spitz's handling of the band's early years in Liverpool and Hamburg. The problem is after that. It is as though the bulk of Spitz's actual research had been devoted to that part of the story and he had relied more on secondhand sources for the rest.
Two major shortcomings of the book stem from the author's evident unease regarding certain very sixties aspects of the band's experience - eastern spiritualism and LSD. These were, undoubtedly, key catalysts for the members of the band. These were young men and their discovery of their artistic selves involved a sort of wide-ranging (and quite bold) experimentation and self-examination. Spitz seems too anxious to gloss this over and/or apologize for it. I thought the discussion of the band's time in India - perhaps the creative high-point for the band, at least as a unit - was particularly thin. Spitz is overly anxious to display that he isn't taken in by the snake-oil salesmen to seriously discuss what it was that, most especially, George Harrison and, to a lesser extent, John Lennon were drawing out of these experiences and interests. Still, for someone like me this subject matter is infinitely fascinating. The Beatles were, after all, the greatest rock 'n' band and this book is about them. At times, moreover, it comes close to being adequate to its subject matter.
I know some Hindi and Bengali, as, of course, does the author and his use of South Asian languages, while not intended to drive off English-only readers, is a pleasure of this novel for Indian readers. But this dimension of the novel is ruined by the selection of a reader who does not know and cannot pronounce the MANY indian words in the novel. This is a very serious problem and it isn't the reader's fault. Why was he given the task in the first place?
I would not have wasted a credit on this had I realized they had done this. I mean, would any reputable audiobook company produce an audiobook of an American novel read by a Englishman with an Oxford accent? I can't believe that there are not plenty of solid Indian readers, such as Firdous Bamji, capable of reading this novel well. As it is, everyone's time is wasted, not to mention my money!
A fantastic book (particularly if you are interested in the history of political debates on the left). Well narrated. This is what it says it is. I loved it.
While the reader of this work makes a valiant effort, he is simply unfamiliar with muslim names and languages and is therefore ill-equipped to properly narrate a book such as this. One wishes to have the proper pronunciation of proper nouns reinforced by purchasing the audio version of a book such as this. There are plenty of Pakistanis and Indians and perhaps even some Afghans who could read this work better than it is read here. It is altogether important that more appropriate readers be found, not only for this but for South Asian novels as well. This said, Rashid's book is important and if this is the only way you'll be able to find the time to read, go ahead and do it. The reader does not get in the way of the basic information and argument of a book written by one of the few in English who actually know what they are talking about when it comes to Afghanistan.
Mr. O'Rourke does not seem to have read Adam Smith. If he had he would have encountered a very fascinating and in some unlikely book. As it is, one is treated to a farrago of ideological assertions with little textual basis.
This is a fantastic book. I think the complaints about the narrator are unfounded. The chief narrator delivers the work in a fairly straightforward standard American accent that is very close to the author's own voice. (Venkatesh reads the last hour or so of the book). As for the work itself, it is the work of a wonderfully thoughtful young sociologist. I have read his first book and this is a great companion to that no less powerful, though far more academic, work. In short, this is one of the best audiobooks I've "read" in a long time. As a fellow Ph.D. graduate from the University of Chicago, I particularly appreciated his comments on Hyde Park and the overall relationship between blacks and students in the neighborhood. Highly recommended.
The dialogue in this one is brilliant even flashing at times. The swearing of oaths is particularly choice in this one. More than once I burst out laughing aloud (embaressing when other people are around). Both Aubrey's and Maturin's character develop and deepen considerably in this one too. In the case of the doctor, the calling of science in a man of the enlightenment like Dr. Maturin is far more deeply explored, particularly with the outbreak of jail fever. Aubrey's stature as a commander too grows considerably in the face of this great trial, being captain of an unlucky ship. Altogether superb.
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