Often I have discussions with my family and friends about what movies made better books, and vice versa. With audible, the question is "does a narrator do a book justice?" Well, with Tobruk, I have to be honest, I doubt I would ever stayed with this if I picked it up off a bookshelf. The author has an unusual story telling style that I doubt comes off well if simply read. He mixes tenses, writes from imagined view of participants, complete with a slang, and worse, he segues from well-described battle scenes to anecdotes that while they may or may not truly relate to his story, they definitely hinder momentum built up by the prior scene. He even quotes Shakespeare at odd moments(sometimes without attributing).
However, having said that, Humprhrey Bower transforms this book and somehow brings this fascinating story to life.
I am two thirds through the book and loving it. Bower does a great job of transporting you to the scene of the battle, to life in tanks and trenches, the hot sun beating down, the trepidation of the battle, the heart wrenching sorrow of an Australian wife whose husband is in the battle. Even the odd slang sprinkled throughout, which at times reminds you of characters in 1940's movies saying "Golly Gee" or "Goshdarnit" ,comes off well done.
The story itself is worthwhile, the heroism of the Australians stopping the German Blitzkrieg. Obviously the author is in love with his subject, so don't expect an objective view, although he does a good job covering the German viewpoint.
To be honest, this really comes across like a novel, not a history. What you might call a docudrama or dramatization.
Personally I think I would have loved Fitzsimmons book more if he had written a straight up novel, as this so much reminded me of Stephen Pressfield's Killing Rommel.
As for Bower, I am definitely interested in picking up another book he narrates. I listened to a sample of Kokoda by Fitzgibbons and while style is the same, it isn't Bower, and sounded very flat compared to this book.
By the way, the common complaint in other reviews before I purchased is about the slow start. I didn't find it as bad as all that. He first mentions desert warfare in Chapter 4 and really doesn't even mention Tobruk itself until the following chapter. Yes, this certainly could have been trimmed, but again, Bower kept me going. Stick with it as the battle scenes are very well done.
I know, general histories of the whole of WWII are usually just too shallow to be enjoyable. Drink deep at history's fountain or not all.
But still like a moth to fire, I always read them, and as a result know where an author is going or when they repeat common myths, or make minor mistakes, like here, mixing up the Heer and the Wehrmacht. Still, I liked Robert's book as he focuses more on areas that typically receive little coverage---CBI theater, fighting near Antwerp, etc.
Nothing new, just different focus and good way to waste hours of a dreary commute!
I love the books that are filled with a bits of trivia, and I learned quite a bit listening to this book. Yet, just me personally, I listen to this in small bursts. It is one of those books, not sure if is better used as coffee table reference. There are constant tidbits of info without much of a central theme or narrative means too much at once. Like drinking a slurpee too fast after a job---brain freeze!
Love the book and the tidbits, though, and narrator is fun to listen to as well.
Since I first read it at 12, I've been huge fan of Michael Shaara's Killer Angels. I've had a much harder time getting into his son's books, as I find the pace much slower.
That being said, with my daughter and new son-in-law in Okinawa, I enjoyed reading about a topic I had only cursory studied before.
Narrator was horrible with the Japanese accent, something out of a really bad 1940's war picture. While I appreciate a good narrator that can do different voices for the various characters, I found this one very, well, insulting. I haven't read the book, so maybe to be fair the written dialogue comes off same way. Even so, I found the Japanese characters would have been more interesting to the story if narrator had handled their parts better.
I'd been looking forward to this book as I had heard it was a balanced account. Well, book is good, but author's bias sways as much toward the Israeli favor as did the war itself. Nothing at all wrong with that, as many good histories are a bit one sided, but he states in beginning his goal was to be objective.
While he does spend an inordinate amount of time on the pre-war diplomacy, once the action starts the book moves fast--unfortunately, too fast. My only criticism is that I had hoped the battle scenes would have been fleshed out more.
Again, while clearly showing a bias, he does examine various reasons why the Egyptians, Syrians, and Jordanians were so caught unaware.
A better idea for a book would be a side by side comparison of the surprise in 1967 and why Israel did so well, versus the 1973 attack that caught the Israelis comparatively off-guard, yet did not garner the same success for the Arab countries that Israel had in 1967 against them.
I first read Clay Blair's Forgotten War while in high school and two points stuck with me since I read it--1. the tragedy of Task Force smith and the actions of Louis Johnson and Truman that led to it, and 2. The stunning pace of changeover in command at all levels of the US Army.
Thomas Ricks covers this turnover in command from WWII to the present, his thesis being that as we progressed from WWII, when generals were likely to be removed without stigma (and subsequently rehabilitated) over the years top generals became more ensconced and less likely to be removed other than for non-military reasons, despite obvious military failures. Coincidentally I was listening to this book right when the Petraeus scandal broke.
While I believe book over-simplistic, clearly biased against certain modern generals, and filled with lost opportunities to expound, the book is a still a very fun read for those into military history and issues of command.
The narrator is never boring.
I would love to see more in-depth coverage of Rick's thesis as it raises very valid concerns for the future of how we grade command, and these questions and lessons carry over into the business world. In Breakthrough Imperative, it was said the modern CEO has at most 18 months to make positive impact. Ron Johnson is clear case in point--when should the JCP board have pulled the plug on him--were they not patient enough or did they wait too long and the harm he caused irreparable? Ricks argues this case with several generals. What is missed is that often the generals are replacing those deemed at best as "mediocre" before them--just as when Ron Johnson replaced Ullman there was a grass is greener mentality that made matters worse.
Not sure what it was, but I loved the movie, and liked the audible of the book but this radio dramatization(based on the book) didn't work for me. Get the movie--and Mr. Roberts while you are at it.
And for great audible of Herman Wouk, get Winds of War and War&Remembrance, you won't be disappointed.
Grab this one. Manchester is an incredbile author and does a great warts and all bio of a fascinating subject.
It is slightly longwinded at times, but he captures the essence of the man from childhood through his "fading away".
The narrator didn't stand out like Humphrey Bower or Kevin Pariseau, but he keeps story moving.
Complaints below were that Manchester is too pro-Macarthur. While he may not be as critical of Macarthur, he doesn't put him on a pedestal. The man comes across as brilliant, arrogant, egotistical, yet a true family man.And his handling of the Truman issue was very fair-handed, rapping both for the issues.
I would love to see Manchester's book on Krupp next on audible.
I liked the background of the Admirals---showing how carrier, sub, and destroyer tactics developed under these four Admirals. I also appreciated the in-depth bio of Leahy who is rarely covered.
Book does a great job telling a short concise bio of each, intertwined together through events that made them famous. HOWEVER, it avoids almost all controversy. Even with the Typhoons, Halsey gets treated with kid gloves.It leaves mistaken impression that all four worked very well together and rarely disagreed. That wasn't exactly the case.
Yes, but this one disappointed me. Toward the end, as somone else noted, his ability to differentiate characters was lost and that hurt in some sections as it is all dialogue and being able to distinguish who is talking helps.
I loved his narration of Winds of War and War&Remembrance, so was surprised at this performance.
Ok,confession...I love the movie. I downloaded the radio dramatization and hated it. Because of Kevin Pariseau's prior Wouk performances, I tried this one.
As someone pointed out:
1. This isn't Wouk's best work.
2. Pariseau is quite a few levels down from his prior narrations.
3. Get past the annoying May/Maria storyline, and this is actually very well done. Really do feel a part of the ship and provides greater appreciation for both Caine Mutiny and Mr. Robert's movies. At first I was surprised that Wouk continued beyond the court martial, and while a bit preachy, it did provide better closure than the movie.
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