It is a pleasant surprise to find audible producing an audio edition of a work by Trotsky, especially a work such as this. This is Trotsky fresh from the front of the Civil War, writing just a few eventful years since the October Revolution (which is called the November revolution here for the usual reasons). While many will, no doubt, purchase the book for Slavoj Zizek's lengthy introduction, it is Trotsky's text that is the major work here. Sean Barrett does a fine job of reading the text and thus conjuring back to life the indomitable spirit of the Russian Revolution in its most ruthless and thus its most resolutely utopian moment. I can only say I hope for more works such as this from audible in the future.
One only wishes that audible had included the bigger, more important book by Mr. French to come out in recent years, namely his biography of V. S. Naipaul The World is What it is. It was a major publishing event and readily adaptable to audiobook. In general, audible seems uninterested in either the biography or the novels of Mr. Naipaul, who is by almost any critical account one of the most important writers in English in the last half century. Anyway, French's India book is enjoyable even for one, such as myself, who has traveled there many times and has read an immense amount on the subject of the country, its people, and its history.
This is a fine book by an accomplished historian. But the French Revolution is perhaps the most controversial subject in history. It is in some sense the quintessential historical event, the one that necessitated the emergence of modern history writing itself. So, how is it possible that audible has only a handful of titles on the subject, and none of the classics on the subject except for Thomas Carlyle's highly idiosyncratic work? Where is Michelet? Tocqueville? Blanc? Taine? Sorel? Jaures? Cobban? Rude? Soboul? Lefebvre? Or what about some of the many recent popular histories of the Revolution and the revolutionaries, such as Scurr's Robespierre or Lawday's Danton? With 100 times as many works on the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers one wonders if there isn't conspiracy afoot directed against the French people!
One might as well as note as well that the English Civil Wars & the Glorious Revolution are even more poorly served. Finally and unbelievably, the revolution of 1848, 1905, and 1917 are subjects about which one can at present learn nothing from the audible catalog. Surely, audible's only audience isn't americans and, more importantly, surely americans interested in history are interested in the subject as such. And it's impossible to understand the American Revolution outside the wider European revolutionary arc that culminates in the Great French Revolution and its aftermath. Get it together audible! But thanks for this one.
This is a another great book by the funnest to read and funniest writer in English. On another day, I could go into the relative merits of this book to others, but there comes a point at which one is simply grateful for Wodehouse. This book strongly reinforces that sentiment in me. Perhaps there are sub-par Wodehouse books, and certainly I've enjoyed some more than others (this one is definitely towards the top of the list), but I can't be sure if isn't my own circumstances when I'm listening to the book that make the difference. Certainly, I will say this, there are no Wodehouse series that deserve to be given a miss. Blandings, Jeeves, Mulliner, Ukridge are all fantastic, each shedding light on the others. Wodehouse is a total phenomenon and must be approached as such.
Ukridge muttering under his breath and breaking plates just after they break into his country house, his mind motoring along at 150 km/h.
Cecil is a master teacher in how to read Wodehouse. Above all, he demonstrates the extent to which you have to let yourself really go to read Wodehouse, and especially with Ukridge, who is a loud boisterous obstreperous sort of fellow, doncha know.
There were points in this book, perhaps even more than in others, where I found myself running to sit down before I fell over laughing. This audiobook is DANGEROUSLY funny.
Though an Indian narrator has been selected for this book, it is remarkable how little he knows how to pronounce Indian words. For instance, the final vowel sound in "Ballygunj" is rendered "oo" rather than the schwa sound it ought to be. Similarly, the vowel in Sena (as in the medieval eastern Indian Sena dynasty), is pronounced as "ee" rather than "ay" (as in "say" or "bay"). And there are innumerable other more or less egregious instances of a similar lack of linguistic familiarity with the world described (and the Bengali that lies behind the author's English). This could have been remedied, of course, by a bit of research. Or, better, a native Calcuttan Bengali might have been found, which would have been easy enough.
The listening experience is not wholly compromised, but it is remarkable how little thought seems to go into the choice of narrators of Indian English novels. The rating is for the audiobook as a book.
If what you are looking for is a serious intellectual history of early christian thought, this may not be the book for you, as Wilken regularly brings in the whole of Christian thinking, from whatever source, to make his arguments.Thus, at places he refers to Cardinal Newman, Jonathan Edwards, John Donne, Thomas Aquinas, and others who properly well beyond the historical scope of the book. This is because the work is no less a work of a devout Christian than a practicing historian. In consequence the task, method, and scope of the latter is not infrequently allowed to give way before the predilections and concerns of the former. The result is not so much a historical investigation of early Christian thought, as its vindication. In consequence, much of this history is discretely passed over as failing to rise to Wilken's own conception of what is best or most appealing in the writings and controversies of early christian thinkers. Those who have read The Christians as the Romans Saw Them may well be disappointed. I know I was.
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