Cheever draws the Wapshot family and their New England lives with poetry and humor. This is a very satisfying read with a surprise development at the end -- one which adds greatly to our understanding of this unappreciated author.
While amusing enough, this text seems to have first been published in 1935 and to be based entirely on early sources such as Livy and Suetonius. It contains many outdated historical concepts such as "they were a virile people..." and no modern scholarship whatsoever. It is widely available for much, much less elsewhere.
Poor old Charlton Griffin. His gruff voice has never been my favorite, but at least he does not try to dramatize the material.
I couldn't stop listening to this fascinating and lucid account. Roberts is a gifted storyteller with the knack of narrating complex events with clarity, enabling the listener to follow the battles without maps.
But this is so much more than a chronicle of battles. Roberts lards his tale with juicy details. We learn about the war's major personalities, Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, the famous generals on both sides and the various love/hate relationships. And there are reminiscences from ordinary soldiers to bring events alive.
We hear of the political and diplomatic machinations. The relative virtues of various arms, tanks, ships and planes, from both sides, are compared and the herculean efforts every participating nation made to design and manufacture arms, with unprecedented speed and volume, are described. We hear of the terrible V1 and V2 rockets, the Hiroshima bomb, the Dresden firestorms, and the author gives thoughtful consideration to the moral implications of these means of war.
He describes Hitler's "stand and die" (fight to the death) orders and the Russian policy of shooting any soldier who was captured or retreated.
And yes, some statistics are necessary to help us grasp the enormous scale of history's greatest tragedy. It does take a little extra effort to hear, rather than see, statistics, but those provided here always seem justified.
I especially enjoyed the author's carefully considered "what if's"... what if Hitler had waited until 1942 to start the war, as had been planned, when he would have had so many more U-boats, Panzers, etc? What if he had refrained from insanely attacking Russia, and focused only on western Europe? What if England didn't have the enigma codes? What if we hadn't sent 15 million boots to Stalin along with guns and tanks, long before sending soldiers? What if Stalin hadn't ignored the 80 intelligence reports naming the exact time and day of the Barbarossa attack? And what if Hitler hadn't fallen for the Allies feints to attack Calais, rather than Normandy? These and more are thoughtfully explored.
I also like the author's inclusion of book and film suggestions... most histories but some fiction, for further reading.
I wasn't a WW2 buff before I read this book, but I am now. Roberts made it come alive to me in so many ways. And this book is completely relevant to today's over-armed world.
Not being a lawyer, I was a little hesitant about buying a book of legal history, but was intrigued from the very first sentence. Feldman writes with grace and clarity about the court that FDR built and four important justices who worked it. He describes the legal concepts and issues of the era with subtlety, yet in terms easy to grasp, and adds the juicy personal and political detail we need to understand where justices Frankfuter, Black, Jackson and Douglas came from and why they acted as they did.
I liked that he explained the different approaches to constitutional law, the crucial components of a number of important cases of the era, and included the political vectors affecting the court. This is a rich history and compelling "read".
He does a wonderful job as a narrator, too. I wish every non-fiction audiobook were read with such ease, simplicity, and complete lack of hype. Congratulations Noah Feldman!
My husband has the hard copy of this book -- 949 pages! I was a bit concerned about the length, but despite some unnecessary detail in part one, the book is fascinating. You really feel that you know where this man comes from as the narration unfolds.
I shared the common misconception of Truman's being a dull nebbish. Far from it, like Lincoln, he was a fascinating combination of dirt farmer and intellectual, with a ramrod sense of right and wrong -- a basically decent person. He was not charismatic, but honed his political skills in the machine politics of Missouri before winning his seat in the US senate. He also loved classical music and opera and had considered a career as concert pianist, he played so well. He lived in a fascinating era... succeeding FDR as the second world war wound down, and making some very big decisions such as dropping the atom bomb and our participation in the Korean war.
It's easy to regret these decisions in hindsight. McCullough is mostly non-judgemental, successfully recreating the concerns and zeitgeist of the era, and painting a portrait of a guy of very modest beginnings who rose to meet the challenges of his offices and era. The author does an excellent job, covering Potsdam, McCarthyism, General MacArthur's fall, and the isolationism and demagoguery of the Republican party among many other events.
I'm afraid Nelson Runger is not my favorite narrator. His style is slightly pompous and a bit labored. Ironically, this tone sounds like forties and fifties radio and TV voices, so maybe it's just right. To his credit, he does not mis-pronounce words like so many younger narrators. But the book is well worth a listen and is a great introduction to that era.
If you have never read it, you are in for a real treat. For good reason it is Forster's most popular book. I've read it four times.
It succeeds first as a lovely romance. It is also literary novel, with symbolism and richly descriptive, though never pretentious prose. Entertaining and romantic, it also achieves real depth as Forster explores the personalities and motivations of his characters and English and Italian mores.
It is also a social critique of that rigidly organized and stratified Victorian world where class rules and correct behavior ordered life. It humorously chides the narrow-mindedness of the English, the strictures placed on women in English society, the evils of organized religions and sexual prudery.
Finally, it advocates social change as some characters move away from restriction towards personal freedom.
Lucy, Forster’s delightful heroine, finds love, and truth in this book. She struggles with prudery, social and religious traditions, cultural snobbery and the strictures placed on women of her era. Forster is never pedanticic and weaves these themes into plot and dialogue with grace, humor, subtlety and love, allowing Lucy to bloom before our eyes. Her story is economically told, with no filler.
Younger readers may have little pateince for the Victorian attitudes and manners described in A Room with a View. Hang in there to see how the transition away from rigid rules towards today’s freedoms began.
Joanna David delivers a rich listening experience filled with Forster’s, and her own warmth, insight and humor.
These are beautifully written stories about the exodus of Paris when the Germans invaded France in 1940, and about village life during the German occupation. Richly detailed, full of irony and with much attention paid to the subtleties of class interactions during those turbulent times, they demonstrate the author's vast talent and the world's great loss when she died at the hands of the Nazis.
Unfortunately one of the readers, Rosenblat, disappoints. The emotions depicted by her vocal tones often conflict with those indicated by the text. Better to read the text in a normal voice than dramatize inaccurately. Allow us, the "readers", to interpret the text for ourselves.
Here's another excellent history from Adam Hochschild. He takes a subject, World War I, which has been thoroughly worked by many historians for many decades, and uncovers new material and a new angle from which to view the war. He presents harsh truths, but in ways so intriguing and well researched that you cannot stop listening.
I had heard about this book from friends and knew I should read it, but dreaded hearing the gory details of King Leopold's horrendous subjugation of the Congo. But Hochschild breaks it to you gently, and crafts the story so skillfully that I never felt overwhelmed. The book is easy to listen to and consistently fascinating. It is amazing that the Belgians were able to prevent the information about this massive crime against an entire people from being disseminated earlier, successfully burying it for so many decades. Highly recommended.
I won't belabor the point, earlier positive reviewers are right, this is an excellent production of an overlooked gem. It is full of lovely prose and a fascinating re-creation of a bygone era. The interview which accompanies the First Movement, which you should read first, makes an apt comparison to Proust, while pointing out that Powell's acute observations of character focus much less on the narrator and more on the other characters. There is little navel gazing here, and you come to appreciate the narrator "Jenkins" and his modesty which enables him to cast more light on other characters.
Readers of contemporary novels may struggle with the minimal plot of this book... very little happens during the first six hours of narration! But hang in there as Powell populates his world with memorable characters and transports you to another place and time.
Simon Vance does an excellent job.
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