This is an important book. Mr. Bergen had extensive access to very senior level people in writing 'Manhunt', including Presidents Clinton, Bush, and especially President Obama.
Many senior cabinet officers and senior military and intelligence leaders are quoted. I believe this book to be about as authentic account of the hunt for OBL as any civilian could write.
On the downside, I had one quibble and one serious problem with 'Manhunt':
Quibble: The author, as one would expect of a NYT reporter, worships at the church of Obama. Everything Obama is portrayed in the most positive possible light. Long boring paragraphs are devoted to praising our President. Given the recent terrorism directed against our diplomats in the middle east, Bergen's glowing tributes to Obama's diplomatic skills seems very outdated.
To be fair to Bergen, while his tone towards President Bush is fairly negative, Bergen does explain why so many senior officials (including Senators Clinton and Kerry) believed that Iraq had WMD's prior to the invasion of that country. This was important information that Bergen puts on the record.
Substantial problem: There is way too much detailed information about classified intelligent sources and methods reveled in this book. I can't blame Mr. Bergen, he's reporting what creditable senior people told him, but I do blame glory seeking politicians for putting their short term political ambitions ahead of the long term good of the country.
'Manhunt' is an excellent companion to 'No Easy Day' by Mark Owen. Mr. Bergen takes you into the high level decision making process that lead up to the raid.
Mr. Owen's book is written from the point of view of the grunt on the ground.
Together one gains an excellent appreciation of the skill required to pull off an operation like 'Neptune Spear'.
Net/net 'Manhunt' should leave any reader impressed with how effective our governmental leadership can be when they really work together on a difficult problem.
Mr. Deakins does an excellent job with this narration. The production quality of this audio book is excellent.
I had to give Mr. Deakins only four stars, because (like so many American narrators) he can't really 'do' foreign accents, he sounds silly when he tries.
Full disclosure: I'm a hard science fiction fan, not at all into magic/fantasy type fiction. I did listen to Monster Hunter International, just because I like Larry Correia's blog. Essentially MHI was pretty close to a classic alien invasion story, just with magic creatures instead of aliens, so I felt like it was worth the audible credit.
I bought 'Hard Magic' when Correia put it on sale for half price one day.
Hard Magic is set in a magical steam puke alternate history, just after WWI. As a fan and student of history I enjoyed the slightly altered historical quotes and the historical characters that Correia weaves into the story. I can take or leave the steam punk stuff.
I didn't like 'Hard Magic' as much as MHI, mostly because of what I came to think of as 'magic power escalation'.
There is a McGuffin that both the Good Guys and the Bad Guys are running all over the place trying to find. If the Bad Guys get it they will do [Really Bad Thing].
The basic story outline is:
1) Character development, reveal a clue about what is Really Going On.
2) Gun porn
3) Good Guys and Bad Guys fight. Bad Guys kick the living daylights out of the good guys, but just when all hope is lost a Good Guy suddenly gets better magic or a new magic power that saves the Good Guys from the Bad Guys for the next battle.
go to step 1 until Final Battle.
4) Fight Final Battle, I won't spoil it by telling you which team wins.
5) Reveal a clue about the next book in the series.
I hear what you are saying: 'Well Jim, why did you give this book four stars overall'?
That's a fair question. The answer is in Step 1 above, and in the excellent of the narrator and overall high quality of the audio production.
Correia isn't Mr.Original when it comes to plotting, but he excels at creating interesting characters.
The characters, both Good Guys and Bad Guys are fascinating. I really enjoyed how the Bad Guys had what for them were very rational reasons for doing what the reader perceives as Bad Things.
Likewise the Good Guys really are motivated to do what the reader will perceive as good things, yet the Good Guys are far from perfect, having many weaknesses and frequent mixed motivations.
The Bad Guys don't feel bad at all about collateral damage along the story. Collateral damage makes the Good Guys kind of sad. But really, the Good Guys don't lose a lot of sleep over that either.
The complexity of the characters and the motivations for their actions kept me going to the end of the book, even though the fight scenes got a little tiresome as time went on.
[Caution, this is a very bloody book, not suitable for small children.]
The narration was excellent, Bronson Pinchot does a great job of voicing each of the many characters in the huge ensemble. The audio production overall was first rate, no bungled edits, no distracting breathing, no compression artifacts.
If you like the idea of an alternate steam punk post WWI magical war with lots of magical fighting, then this book is for you!
If, like me, you are fan of military or history related hard SciFi don't be afraid to give one of Correia's books a chance. You might, like me, enjoy it!
I was aware of the band called Rush, but didn't care for the little bit of their music I had heard in the past.
I had never heard the name 'Neil Peart' until a month ago when I listened to 'Ghost Rider'. I wouldn't call Ghost Rider an enjoyable book due to its central tragedy, but it was certainly well written and compelling.
I used my next credit for 'Roadshow'. This is a much more enjoyable book. It was interesting to learn how a big traveling music show operates.
I do have a little bit in common with Mr. Peart, we were both born in 1952 and we both like touring motorcycles. I've always been a shy person around strangers, but I can see I'm Mr Outgoing compared to this author.
Mr Peart's relationship with his fans is interesting. He appreciates them, but he's also very frightened by them. So frightened that immediately after a show ends he usually runs to his bus and 'gets of dodge' as quickly as he can.
The 'my fans scare me' theme runs throughout this book. Another theme is the authors love/hate relationship with the United States. I think love is winning out.
And of course, as a long distance rider I found the motorcycle stuff fascinating, and there is a lot of motorcycle in this book. It certainly would be nice to not worry about the cost of frequent visits to BMW dealers to fix all the little problems that come with a shiny red GS.
I have a Yamaha FJR sport touring bike, similar to the author's BMW, except faster. My Yamaha never breaks down, so I don't have to opportunity to become best friends with Yamaha dealers all over the country. ;)
I wish Mr Peart was not so quick to bash people based on their outward appearance, accents, or religious beliefs. His elitist attitude can be bit off putting at times. Still, keep in mind that the author really bares his soul in his books, showing the bad alongside the good.
We can appreciate his frankness in sharing some less than perfect sides of his personality.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
The narration and production values of this audiobook are excellent. Brian Sutherland voice seems perfect for the job. I've watched some interviews with Mr Peart, and noticed that Mr Sutherland's voice is almost indistinguishable from that of Mr Peart.
Since reading these two books I've tried to listen to some Rush music. It's just not for me, with the exception of Mr Peart's drum solos. I don't know if he's the best drummer in history, but he's certainly the best drummer I ever saw!
I was vaguely aware of the existence of a band called 'Rush', but I couldn't recall hearing any of their music, my tastes in music go in a different direction.
I was unaware of this Neil Peart person. I've since learned he is considered a Living God by many people, including members of my own family.
The two things I do have in common with Mr Peart is that we were both born in 1952 and we both like to take a long motorcycle ride when we feel the need to clear our head. It was motorcycles, not music, that attracted me to this book.
This isn't a particularly happy book, but it is a fascinating one. It's a good motorcycle travelogue. It's an interesting look behind the scenes of the life a famous musician. And it's a tragic story of a man dealing with what has to be about the worst loss one can imagine.
Mr Peart doesn't always come across as particularly warm or tolerant. He does come across as brutally honest with himself and his readers.
The narration and production values are excellent, the story is compelling.
I can't say I 'enjoyed' this book, the central tragedy precludes that adjective.
I am glad I read it.
I have almost three hundred books in my Audible library. This is the second book that I have returned.
This is the second book by Sawyer I've read, the first was that one about the spider creatures who come to earth looking for a paleontologist. That was pretty good, even though the ending was sad.
This book was down right depressing to listen to, despite having an excellent narrator. The Alien message seems like nothing more than a excuse to put a married couple in a horrible situation.
This was a decent short story crammed into a full length novel.
I'm a retired USAF officer from Texas, and life long fan of the Royal Navy. I even had the happiness of serving (on land) with the Royal Navy a number of times during my Air Force career while stationed in England.
I even instructed for a month on board 'HMS Dryad', which is of course a land based training school, not a ship at all. But I was always tickled by the RN practice of calling their land bases 'ships'.
I've read all the classic RN 'age of sail' novels. I was excited when this book showed up on Audible.
The good news first: It's an interesting story with some fun twists. I grew to care about the characters. In fact, I knew military officers who had all of the problems that plague the characters in this book.
The well connected up and coming candidate angling to replace the older Captain of the Ark Royal was very realistic. In the USAF we called that kind of officer a 'fast burner'. I bet every military has them, including this future RN.
Good officers with drinking problems are very common, Nuttall scored a direct hit with this character.
The mid-grade officer whose marriage is threatened by long deployments is very common, and very heartbreaking!
I liked the way Nuttall handled his aliens. Unlike almost every other SciFi space war novel, these aliens don't want to talk to us. Very probably they can't talk to us, they may not even have the concept of 'talking' as far as the characters and readers know.
For some reason the aliens want to kill us and break our stuff. Why? What the heck are they after?
Sometimes the aliens seem much smarter than us, but then they'll do something that to us seems stupid. Why? Nuttall's aliens are much less of an actor in a rubber suit than most SciFi aliens. Are they devilishly clever or what?
I like Nuttall's aliens, they were very interesting.
The things the other reviewers complain about are all there.
I got really sick of 'gave them a bloody nose'! I kept saying 'forget giving them a bloody nose, they are fish! Gut them"!
Some of the conversations were pretty disjointed by the inserted mental self-dialogs.
It's tiring working on a ship. It's been tiring working on a ship since the first caveman hollowed out a log and rowed across a lake! In Nelson's time ships crews worked four hours on four hours off for years at a time! And they didn't even have sleep machines! Enough about being tired. Man up, space squids!!!!
It bothered me that the RN fighter squadrons of the future are commanded by 'Wing Commanders'. The RN does not have a rank or position of 'Wing Commander'. The RAF does, and for a while I thought that the Ark Royal's air detachment was in fact from the RAF.
I'm pretty sure that a typical RN fighter squadron is commanded by a person with the rank of 'Commander', or perhaps 'Lt Commander'.
That kind of bothered me.
I was disappointed in the narration. The RN officers I knew did not grunt like constipated old men, and they never shouted at each other. I've never sailed with the RN, but I really got the impression that the RN officer corps personifies the very reserved, dignified British gentleman's manner of speech. RN veterans please correct me if I'm wrong about this.
I can say for certain that RN officers are much less demonstrative than USAF officers from Texas! At least when they are sober. ;)
Britten has dozens and dozens of regional and class accents, and the Brits are very accent conscious. The narrator had only his own accent, his attempts to replicate other class and regional accents sounded very forced.
I came to overlook Mr. Nuttall's and Mr. Lister's little quirks because I wanted to see what was going to happen next! Isn't that what makes a good story?
If you liked 'Battle Star Galactica' and/or 'Master and Commander' you very well may like 'Ark Royal'!
EPILOGUE: I just finished volume two of this series, 'The Nelson Touch'. I'll review it separately, but you should know that the second volume is better edited, and has a tighter and more clever storyline. The narrator does a better job as well.
I'm looking forward to the third volume in this series.
This wasn't a horrible book, but it was surprisingly dull compared to all the other books in this series.
The 'aliens' are even more human like than in the rest of Ringo's universe, to the extent they can be easily converted to human religion. To be fair, the characters are likeable and interesting.
Do NOT read this book until you've read most or all of the Aldenata series. To enjoy it at all you'll need to be pretty familiar with the Aldenata universe.
If you are a Ringo fan but can't get through the endless talking talking talking comprises most of this book, at least listen to the last five minutes, there is some interesting foreshadowing there.
Mahaffey does one of the best jobs of combining hard science, complete with numbers, with fascinating human stories I've ever heard.
This isn't a text book, it's a smart funny guy who happens to be a subject matter expert telling you history in a very human way.
The first accident in the book is literally a train wreck, and each subsequent story of nuclear errors, accidents, and disasters have a 'can't take your ears off of this train wreck' quality.
This is sort of like 'Cosmos' for nuclear power production history.
Or it least it would be if Carl Sagan or Niel Tyson had senses of humor and didn't talk down to the audience.
The book is written in the first person, so there is only one character.
Weiner does a great job reading this book, with the glaring exception of pronouncing the word 'Tritium'. For some reason he pronounces 'trit-E-um' as 'trisham'! I actually had to stop the audio and go to the web to double check that there wasn't really an element called 'trisham'!
I don't blame Weiner for this, I blame Blackstone's producer for not catching this glaring error.
I've been listening to audio books since the late 70s, and I've alway found Blackstone readings to have inferior production values. I will say that the production quality in this book is much better than past Blackstone recordings, but they still have work to do match the quality of studios like Recorded Books LLC.
I would have if I could have.
This is not a partisan rant, the history of nuclear power, good and bad, is related with emphasis on the 'bad'.
After telling you the 'bad' Mahaffey provides the hard facts and numbers to help readers keep a sense of perspective when thinking about future energy alternatives for the U.S. and the world.
I'm a 'hard science fiction' fan, and have never been attracted to the fantasy/magic/vampire type of novels.
I somehow stumbled upon Larry Correia's blog, where I read an absolutely hilarious rant concerning some kind of war between writers involving identity politics.
I'm a John Ringo fan. Based on Larry's blog, Larry is cut from the same cloth.
Despite my misgivings about fantasy novels, I took the plunge and spent a credit on "MHI". I'm glad I did.
This book is still pretty 'science fictionany'.
If you have read Ringo's Aldanada novels, MHI is very similar. Just substitute really hard to kill monsters invading earth for Ringo's really hard to kill aliens invading earth, and go with the flow.
Like Ringo's heros, Correia's heros are really hard to kill. Correia's heros frequently get the crap beat out of them, and like in Ringo's novels,Correia's universe includes a method by which a hero can be kind of regenerated without long hospital stays between beatings.
Correia is a talented writer with a great sense of humor. That's a good thing, because there is a lot of blood and gore in this novel, without the large dose of ironic humor this would have been a really depressing 20 hours of listening.
I like long audio books, and this is a long one, in a good way. I enjoyed MHI a lot, it's certainly a credit well spent.
To fully appreciate this book one needs to have read most of the earlier books in the series, I'd recommend doing that. If the first two books hook you then you'll like this one for sure.
I'm a huge fan of the Patrick O'Brian 'Master and Commander' series. There is ship boarding sequence in 'Eye' that O'Brian would have loved.
It was great when the O'Neil family gets back together.
I kind of got a little tired of this universe and so delayed downloading 'Eye'. It was wonderful to see Ringo bring back most of the really interesting characters and put them all on the same team.
It was great that for once I didn't have to suffer through hundreds of pages of humans getting their butts kicked, although by the end of this book our species is clearly not out of the woods.
I personally find Ringo's obsession with smoking, dipping, and breast ogling to be a bit tiresome, but I can put up with this minor fobble of his.
I'm a retired Air Force Navigator and really enjoyed his discussion of the psychology of 'tactical call signs'. He was spot on with this aspect of military life, or my name isn't Hootman!
'The Martian' is one of the most enjoyed science fiction books I've ever read, and I've been reading them for over 50 years!
The story is both exciting and fun. The characters are all great, especially 'The Martian'!
There's lot of real science in it. The physics is all based on real earth physics, no magic, no aliens, no FTL, no holodecks. Just fun and adventure!
The performance and production quality are outstanding.
I normally don't buy books shorter than 12 hours, but the famous magician Brian Brushwood recommended it. Brian was right!
Eleven star recommendation!!
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