Absurd dialog, wooden voice acting, howlingly bad character accents, dizzyingly abrupt scene transitions, gratuitous and self-conscious descriptions of sex, hackneyed characters (the virtuous cowpoke, the villianous/cowardly rich kid, the hot-blooded Spanish Siren, etc.). To add insult to injury, the voice actor who announces the titles of each new scene ("Peking, 1900") sounds just like your dorky uncle Larry when he's trying to make his voice deeper and say something "important".
And it's such a #^*$!$@% shame! As some of the other reviewers (USMC vets it seems) point out the times (1898-1900), places (Phillipines, China river patrol boat, Peking), people and events (Battle of Manila Bay, Phillipines Insurrection, Boxer Rebellion, Seige of the Foreign Legations in Peking) of Blood and Iron are fascinating, exotic and little known. My fellow reviewers show their Semper Fi and make perfectly valid points about parallels with historical greats Dan Daly and Smedley Butler. Why aren't they absolutely furious about the lousy job this "dramatization" did with such terrific material? This story could have been ABSOLUTELY AMAZING in the hands of a good writer. Instead, it rivals the quality of the early volumes of the Mack Bolan canon. I listened to the very end in disbelief, hoping against hope that the story would heave itself up out of the muck and end in a more satisfying flourish. When it was all over, I popped the last disk from the CD player, gathered up the others and threw them in the round file.
It would be most unfortunate if you gave this book a pass for fear of a poor narration. The story is compelling and it's well told. An over simplification: it's the memoir of a Moth (Garrigan) and a Light (Amin), as experienced by the Moth. It also ponders important questions on the moral culpability and complicity of one who remains a bystander at an atrocity. It's really good.
Caveats: 1) I haven't seen the movie yet (but I plan to); and 2) I am no expert on regional accents one may hear in English spoken north of Hadrian's Wall. I am pretty good at the sound of English as spoken by post-colonial Africans for whom it is not their first language, as well as English spoken by Israeli expats. That being said, I declare that the voice talent on this book, one Willis, did a fine job indeed! Since I don't know from Scottish accents, I was happy to accept the way he voiced Dr. Nicholas. I thought he was spot on with the voices of Idi and the other black Africans who speak throughout the story. My only quibble comes with the voice he used for Dr. Sara, which sounded more like the accent of the character played by Peter Lorre in "Casablanca" than any Israeli with whom I have talked.
I have been curious about Samuel Pepys for some years now so I got this book to find out what all the fuss was about. The audio quality is unfortunate; format 2 is the best that can be downloaded. The sound is so fuzzy that I can hardly understand the narration when I play the disks in my car (where I listen to nearly all of my Audible books as I make the daily commute to work). What I can hear, however, makes me hungry for more. The content is rich, detailed and full of references to people, events and literature contemporary to the 1660s but not so well known in 2007(naturally enough:it's a daily diary which can hardly be expected to spell out those things which were well-known or obvious to the writer). Consider this book as an appetizer. If it whets your appetite, as it has mine, you'll probably want to go to the nearest public library for one of the unabridged volumes - but make sure it's annotated!
Enjoyable account of the US involvement in the N. Africa and Sicily campaigns of 1942-43. Absolutely gripping: the narrative of the night drop onto Sicily. It's good to have maps with this one (just about the only downside of audiobooks). Suggested complementary non-fiction reading: An Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson.
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