This was an important book in 1963 when it was first published. I thought it sounded interesting. Unfortunately, I found it to be a very scholarly work, which overworked it's thesis again and again in fine detail. The author seems to insert a paranthetical comment or subclause into every sentence. I could have gotten everything I needed to know on this subject in a ten-page article.
I suppose that I should have read reviews beforehand to understand better whether the work would hold my interest.
At least the narrator makes it easy to follow the author's dense terminology and phrasing.
As noted already, there are several places where the narrator re-reads lines. It is quite disturbing.
Otherwise, the story is entertaining, but not really in the science fiction genre. You could imagine it taking place five years from now with no great stretch of technology.
As a history of the development of telephony, radio, film, televsion, and the information age, this book is terribly interesting. It brings alive the periods and the people that brought us to the present point. It contains interesting trivia without getting bogged down in detail.
As economics, however, it falls flat. I will limit myself to three examples. First, the author feels that these industries would have remained fragmented and creative, if not for the rethlessness of certain men. But every industry goes through a period of consolidation, including cars, airlines, and mobile phones.
Second, he constantly bemoans that radio went to an advertising-based model, but does not really present an alternative. Even European governments that supported broadcast media with taxes have now gone to an advertsing model. Where is the alternative?
Finally, he makes a fundamental mistake by viewing Google as a search engine company committed to openness. Google is an advertising company that uses search ond other tools to sell advertising. This mis-understanding of Google's business colors everything that the author writes about the future of the internet.
The author writes the history in a very clear narrative style. The amount of background is sufficient, and introduced in the proper way. In the end he explains not only the Battle of Midway, but the thinking, strategies, limitations, and advantages that eventually led to the US victory at Midway and in the Pacific War.
Mr Lurie has a smooth speaking style. He is the kind of narrator that makes you forget that he didn't actually write the book - he is only reading it.
A wonderful, moving story, narrated in an engaging way. The story of the young man is very well-told, with expressive wording and mental images. The characters are natural and sympathetic.
The narrator not only pronounces the difficult words in Afrikaans and native languages correctly, he consistenly uses a different voice for each character. This adds real value to the audio book beyond just the reading of the text.
This book is actually two books, somewhat intertwined: When the author discusses the develoment of civilizations or migration patterns he is interesting and insightful. For that, the book was worth it.
But then there is the second book, in which the author promotes extreme free-market libertarianism. His argumentation has two flaws. First, he uses evidence selectively to support his own thesis. First, he says that you cannot critisize the US healthcare system based on life expectancy, because there are other factors. Twenty minutes later he critisizes the healthcare system under the Soviets, partly based on life expectancy.
Second, and more fundamentally, he assumes that all government actions represent a failure to "think beyond stage one". He seems unable to understand that people might accept that political decisions arrive at sub-optimal economic results. It is possible that free markets might have eliminated Jim Crow laws after another hundred years, but that is not what people wanted.
The narrator is mediocre, tending to drag out the end of words in an annoying way that stresses the condecension of the author in his arguments.
After about 20 hours it was clear that this was going to continue to be a predictable and repetitive book, with shallow character development. In place of dialogue, characters make long soliloquies about the glory of greed and selfishness. All this leads to the climax, a three hour (!) speech that repeats every point ad nausem in case you haven't got it by then.
There are only four basic characters: rich people that agree with the philosophy, rich people that disagree with the philosophy, and non-rich people that agree or disagree with the philosophy.
Those that agree with the philosophy are good in every way - apparently even their sex is better. Never mind that they might subvert the justice system or other dirty tricks. Those that disagree are naturally portrayed as weak and worthless. Basically every character is depraved.
The narrator follows this characterization by only using four voices, one for each of the character types. He runs through transitions so that only after a couple lines do you realize that the scene has changed.
It is hard to believe that important people view this book with its silly philosophy as the basis of their moral beliefs. Still less so that people of faith would say this about a philosophy that is hostile to any faith.
Early in the book, when I realized that it was a gay romance, I almost quit. I'm glad I didn't.
The romantic scenes were mildly described and the rest of the story was gripping and vividly written. The culture and people of mythic Greece come alive in a convincing way. Knowing that the outcome cannot be anything but tragic, I dreaded moving toward the end, but the author stays true to the tradition. She also thankfully leaves out later mythic traditions not found in Homer.
The story is well read, at a good pace.
This is how history ought to be written and narrated. Goodheart pulls together a multitude of strands and weaves them into a image of the US in perhaps its most critical year.
Davis does the book justice with clear, consistent and engaged narration. I listened to this audiobook twice a few months apart.
Every few years, I have looked through a book about body language. This is the first one that grounded the subject in evolutionary development and human psychology. This makes it much easier to remember what each gesture might mean and how it might relate to other gestures. It give quite a few examples from the author's deep experience. In a few years I will review this book, rather than turning to another.
As several have remarked, the narration is dry and unanimated,
While this was probably fresh and intrigueing in 1953 when it appeared, it reads now like a new author's first attempt at the genre. The human race is torn by senseless conflict but an alien civilization imposes peace. All the old unscientific beliefs are abandoned. The religious beliefs of mankind are exposed to be the result of ancient alien visitations.
This is replaced by another form of spirituality that feels contrived. It is an idealized form of Sci-Fi that definitely pre-dates The Neuromancer and other works that project the complexity of human existence into another reality.
That, together with the outdated vision of technological progress (there are flying cars, but computers and other electronics hardly appear), made listening to this book a bit like watching a 1950's Sci-Fi film in black and white.
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