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directed against our diplomats in the middle east, Bergen's glowing tributes to Obama's diplomatic skills seems very outdated.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.
Jim Rogers is in his 40s in 1990. He has a 22 year old beautiful blonde girlfriend who is perfect in every way. Jim is an avid long distance motorcycle rider.
Jim is also richer than Midas. He thinks nothing of dropping by the local BMW dealer to pick up a new motorcycle on a whim, or buying a small country. He and his girlfriend decide to spend a couple of years traveling around the world on motorycycles.
If the thought of someone like that bothers you, avoid this book!
This book is about 70% travelogue, and a really good one, especially for motorcycle riders. Jims trip makes 'The Long Way Round' look like a run to the grocery store.
Really, 1990 wasn't that long ago, but it was about two years before the World Wide Web existed beyond academia. Jim spends a lot of time just trying to discover information about conditions in the next country, or keeping track of his personal finances while on the road. All stuff that you can do on a Smart Phone from just about anywhere these days.
This ride was a real accomplishment and required assets that money can't buy.
The other 30% is discussion of national and global macroeconomics from a libertarian point of view. In each country Jim visits he discusses the local economic and political climate from the perspective of a potential large investor. He also makes a lot of predictions, many of which subsequently came true. For example, after traveling the full length of the USSR he correctly predicted the near term breakup of the Soviet Union.
He also predicted that Bill Clinton would be the last Democratic Party President, which of course didn't happen. He predicted that the U.S. economy was nearing collaspe, which hasn't happened yet.
I think Jim did not foresee the huge peace dividend that flowed in to the United States after the fall of the Berlin Wall, which powered a lot economic growth through the 90s.
Few will agree with all of Jim's analysis, predictions, and observations of human nature. But everyone with an interest in travel (especially travel by motorcycle), economics, politics, human cultures or just good stories will probably enjoy this book.
John McLain's narration and the overall production values of this audiobook were outstanding, it was a pleasure to listen to.
I really enjoyed this story of war and love in a Spitfire squadron in World War II. Very much in the spirit of Nevil Shute, the store is narrated in retrospect by an older man revealing the story of his past.
There are fighters, dogfights, fist fights, spies, Nazis, love, and jealousy, all stirred into an intriguing story.
The narration and production values are good. Brad Willis did a good job of bringing the characters to life. Almost everyone in this story is very young, as the fighter pilots of WWII were. For that reason I think the voicing of the 23 year old main character with a very deep voice was a little overdone, but at least it was done well.
Recommended for anyone interested in military related fiction.
The reason I purchased this book is because Elon Musk decided to name his 'Autonomous spaceport drone ship' after one of the ships in this series: 'Just Follow The Instructions'.
I figured Elon would not like a bad book.
And indeed, the very original ships names Banks comes up with are very clever and entertaining.
The story itself is pretty basic. There a McGuffin. Everyone wants the McGuffin. We really don't care about The McGuffin, but we care about the characters as they run around trying to find the McGuffin.
At the start of the book the bad guys are 'The Culture', which is a galactic civilization that is run by 'minds', super intelligent machines that I'm sure Elon is working on building. They are at war with the the Idirans, a three legged warrior race who seem to be the good guys. Or not. It's hard to say.
I will say that the Idirans are bad asses, and the Cluture's huge sentiant space ships are way cool!
By the end of the book I wasn't sure who the good guys and the bad guys really were. Which is a plus in a lot of ways.
As they run around there is a lot of classic SciFi wizzbangery, with some very Firefly-like / Hans Solo like characters.
The Banks universe is more interesting than the story itself.
It's a good three star space opera wrapped in a five star fictional universe.
Peter Kenny does a terrific job of bringing the characters to life with his narration.
The last five minutes of the audio book are an epilogue, which is clearly there because the McGuffin chasing just ran out of steam and Banks didn't have the heart to actually wrap up the story.
Bottom Line: A workman like SciFi story set in a fascinating universe.
I'm not exactly how to classify this ...errr... 'document', but I sure enjoyed the heck out of it!
Ms Shaidle starts with a discussion of the downsides of too much casual sex that's both funny and insightful. I'm thinking 'when granddaughter turns 13 I should give her a copy of this'.
But then a little further I learn that there is a genre of adult fiction involving rough sex between young women and dinosaurs! I managed to make it to age 62 with knowing that, and frankly, I don't think I really needed that mental picture.....ever. But it's like a train wreck, you can't not look once the author points at it!
Maybe I'll wait until granddaughter is a bit older than 13 to give this book.
In general Ms Shaidle points out a lot of things that many fashionable and hip people do and say that are down crazy when you step back and look at them objectively. She makes you laugh, because otherwise you'd cry.
TRIGGER WARNING: If you are a 'social justice warrior' don't read this book unless you have a real sense of humor (unusual in SJW's, but I'm sure it's possible).
This third novel of the trilogy is the best of the lot. Mr. Nuttall has tightened up his writing noticeably since the first novel.
A few little details bother me, so I'll get those out of the way first:
There are no more 'bloody noses'. The crew of the Ark Royal still whine about being tired after pulling a four hour shift, but not as often.
Mr. Lister's narration has improved a bit, but his characters still bark and growl a lot more than I'd expect from RN Officers.
In the future Royal Navy people salute indoors when they pass in the hall. That's weird.
The rank structure of the future Royal Navy is a bit odd too. There do not seem be any Lieutenant Commanders, and an RN full Commander calls a Marine Major 'Sir'. The future RN does have 'Wing Commanders'.
On some alien worlds all the women have to wear bikinis! Or just go naked. There's lots of naked women in our future.
The good parts greatly outweighs these minor quibbles. Mr. Nuttall has woven a fascinating story, with several clever and unexpected plot twists.
We finally get to learn something about the aliens, their motivations, their concerns, and why they are so upset with the mere humans in the first place.
The characters became real to me, I found myself really caring about them. I really wanted to know how they would turn out.
Mr. Nuttall does a good job of wrapping up the story lines of this trilogy into a satisfying conclusion.
The Nuttall universe still exists, Earth isn't out of the woods. There's plenty of room for the sequels that I hope he writes.
This novel follows Hamilton's 'Void Trilogy'.
tl;dr : Not perfect, but if you liked the void Trilogy you pretty much have to listen to this book also.
The first part of this novel is excellent. We're in the Commonwealth, some of our old friends are here. The narration by John Lee is perfect.
What with Commonwealth people living pretty much infinitely long lifespans a lot of people are pretty bored, and so volunteer to boldly go where no one has gone before on huge colony ships. Destination: a new, less boring life.
So far so good. Super Detective Paula is still chasing bad guys. Nigel is still smarter than everyone else (except maybe Ozzie).
Nigel learns that The Void is even more of a threat or menace than we thought. Something Must Be Done.
The Plan is put into action...
Now we've left the Commonwealth to enter The Void to find another world, very similar to the Void world Makkathran of the earlier Void novels. Makkathran, as Hamilton readers will recall, is basically a magic powered Renaissance Faire world.
This newly discovered Renaissance Faire world is threaten by a new bunch of Bad Guys called 'Fallers'.
In this novel a junior soldier I'll call 'Edeard2' in this new Renaissance Faire world plus magic, starts to challenge the corruption and decay that have poisoned this new Renaissance Faire world.
Edeard2 is determined that his fellow citizens should know hope again by defeating 'The Fallers', overthrowing the rich plutocrats, and instituting a Marxist dictatorship.
The introduction of Edeard2 in his pre-revolution job as a soldier is actually fairly interesting.
But not for that long.
Sigh. We have to go a few hours as Edeard2 plots against the corrupt 'Captain' to give hope to his world and defeat the fallers. It's really very tedious to anyone who who read the void trilogy.
Just when I was about to give up on this novel and ask for a refund someone from the Commonwealth shows up on Renaissance Faire2 and starts to introduce Science Fiction in the fairly boring internal politics of the Renaissance Faire2 world.
From that point forward the book starts to be fun and interesting again. The ending had a surprise.
And of course, a cliff hanger.
I really didn't care for the original Edeard, this Edeard2 character in this novel or the whole concept of the Renaissance Faire worlds. I still liked this novel.
If you liked Edeard and his world then you will for sure like The Abyss Beyond Dreams.
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.
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