Maple Valley, WA, United States | Member Since 2011
I've seen a few uncharatable reviews of this book mixed in to the many that suggest Vinge had a ghost writer. Truly, you can not please everyone. I saw no evidence of this.
This is a character story, a view of social dynamics, the community of belief , and how things always work out if you alter the definition of success. It is small in scope and personal.
If you're looking for a grand love story, an easy hero, or the triumph of dazzling technology this is not the book. If you want to follow the story that Vinge is telling and clearly has not finished then you can't miss this installment. I can't say that the book stands on its own because I came to it with the great saga the gave birth to it in my mind.
If you care nothing for the events of WWII, nothing for cryptography, and nothing for technology then you might not want to choose this work. However, if you do, I'm betting you'll find a new appreciation for these subjects. Stephenson's scholarship, character development, humor, plain talk and refined insights weave an engaging tapestry.
Unfortunately the author has chosen to criss-cross the story back and forth through space and generations like a toddler with a crayon forgetting, perhaps, that we experience life in a forward directed line before we can remember it dis-jointly. This whiplash seems unnecessary and self-indulgent. I kept wishing I had started diagramming the story at the outset.
Compounding this problem, the audio book seems to have a considerable sequence error according to other listeners. I have not verified this against a paper copy, but recommend that a paperback or ebook should accompany this version.
I am not thrilled by Dufris' narration, but it is on aesthetic, not fundamental grounds. I found myself pulled out of the story over and over to roll my eyes. Perhaps he was channeling his author, or both of them were channeling the characters, letting a certain male adolscence take over what might have been a more expressive subtlety and literary state of mind.
All this said, I still really enjoyed the story and found that I really wished it had gone on long enough see what kind of people some of the characters became.
Critics of this work argue that Jung Chang has fallen in love with her subject, lost objectivity, taken a narrow view, abandoned scholarly rigor, and heavens, failed to entertain.
I am not a scholar of Chinese History and have only a little Mandarin but I feel compelled to respond to some of these assertions.
Jung Chang clearly sympathizes with Cixi, and I can not imagine her failing to do so. The author has a more intimate connection to her subject than either a doctrinal scholar of the People's Republic or any Western male scholar will. In fact, I find myself becoming incensed by the decidedly male view that seems to suggest that such a constrained, uneducated, besieged woman, standing for the vast and deep heritage of the Dynasty that self-identified as China could have done much better. The author does not hide Cixi's failings, in fact she is careful to attempt to discover how Cixi perceived those now condemnable actions. She does however fail to anticipate the criticism of Cixi's choice to promote constitutional monarchy, and her weak provision for succession.
We have not been provided with this view before. It is a fascinating study of willful leadership and a sense of responsibility from a position of privileged powerlessness - and somehow feels familiar and understandable even now to an average Western woman in the 21st century. Jolene Kim's appropriately noninflected delivery and slightly accented voice in quotation lend an appropriate atmosphere to the work. The author is doing her level best to give this woman her voice. Western critiques that attack her employment of epithet and mannerism are ignorant of historic cultural forms.
I do agree however, that better source citation, anticipation and address of objections, and inclusion of the external viewpoint from outside of the court to help us understand what she could and could not have understood and significant junctures in her rule would have improved this work. I also agree that the treatment of some topics are either over-extended or underrepresented.
I think it is perhaps important to recognize the limits of any human holding together the last moments of a regime with some compassion. To do so, may help our own leaders see in those people the image of themselves.
I could write this drek in a coma. It fulfills all the one-time Cinderella impulses I am loathe to admit I ever filled countless journal pages with. Although the anemic character development, insipid dialogue, and gratuitous light porn is insulting, I admit it is also entertaining to the secret tabloid voyeur in all of us . Also as I refuse to read the following sequels I have relied on other's synopses to evaluate the whole story. With that remove I can only speculate that the author made a valiant attempt to nuance and explore the complexity of a Power Exchange relationship and failed so miserably because of her inexperience as an author - inexperience compounded by the dismal and infuriating performance of the narrator.
There are no heros here, but all are heroic. Among the smells, and sights and sounds of the ordinary and the legendary, history dresses its naked errors in understanding and importance. I will never see Hong Kong without remembering what happened here in these pages.
This is a GREAT 900 page adventure story that I couldn't put down despite the author's glorification and over-endowment of an anti-hero (himself), his melodramatic pseudo-philosophizing, and his over-stereotyping of characters. Even the brilliant narration of Humphrey Bower is infected by Robert's self-importance. A really good editor could have dealt with all of these sins, allowing the existing great story telling, beautiful writing, interesting characters, and discerning insight to stand as a new classic work of art. That didn't happen. Either you will despair of the author's deep flaws and despise this work or you will provide your own editorial sponsorship as you read and enjoy what is there to be discovered.
I am not a fan of narrator Scott Brick, he is melodramatic. Donaldson is perhaps over-enamored with his connection to Wagner, but the character development is satisfying as far as it goes. This series should perhaps be collapsed into three books instead of 5. This feels like a novella.
I am a Progressive Liberal Democrat and I recommend this book. Understanding the fundamental mechanics of Constitutional debate and history only strengthens each of us as citizens. I have not changed my opinions as a result of hearing Judge Napolitano's arguments, but I am much clearer about the issues, the ramifications of policies and the location of mines in the political landscape. Idealists may bristle at his explicit distaste for honoured icons and ideals. So be it. It is rare to find such erudition and intelligent eloquence in someone with whom I disagree on so many points. Makes me miss Buckley.
I will listen to this again if only to pull threads of my understanding in a little tighter. After listening to such an arc of theoretical/cutting edge science one tends to imagine the insights of sudden genius just lurking a hair breadth away.
The universe really...
When Alan Alda walks into Strogatz's office
No. I wanted to and did savour the thoughts that bubbled up in between sections.
It is hard to know who will appreciate Sync, lovers of Science and Math certainly. But organizational theorists of every stripe should see something here as well.
I would recommend this book to friends that enjoy philosophy, theology and literature.
The Consul. The tragic hero in a very Greek way.
I loved the depiction of the hybrid Severin's last days on the Hidden Earth.
It made me think, and pity.
Makes you want to go back and read Keats where the first book of the series makes you want to read Chaucer.
Enlightening, endearing, invigorating
The Disappearing Spoon has a similar level of comprehensiveness, scholarship and careful analysis as The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker but perhaps with even more love of its subject seaming the joins of its argument. Both dusted, uncluttered and cleaned up my mental shelves and helped me remember why I love mankind.
Sean is clearly dearly fond and understanding of the work he narrates. I can not imagine a more personable reading.
I laughed, wept, smiled stupidly, stared slack-jawed and wide-eyed throughout this listening.
If you have any interest in science at all listen to this book and then get it for someone you love.
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