I found it more than ironic that the author's arguments against the mainstream's hubris were themselves dripping with hubris. Despite completely agreeing with the author, I found it hard to concentrate on his points and examples.
The second half is much better focusing on the real meat of the issue and offering more insight to the world today. More practical people will complain that he provides no strategy for using/avoiding Black Swans. He does provide advice for avoiding Black Swans - Expect Them. The rest is more like a Self-Help book. Be willing to take a risk and be wary of anything that is described as a "sure thing" or "completely safe".
An inventive world has been created. The characters are deep and shallow at the same time. The conflict is slow in developing but does come to an interesting conclusion. The mysterious city and relationships are more interesting than the story for most of the time, though it is brought together.
I listened to the first 3 books of the series and had some serious doubts after the third book. Was the Red Wedding and the harshness/despair...was it art? Showing the brutality of humans and not following the fairy-tale plot of typical literature? Or was it just mediocre storytelling that wasn't going anywhere? Then I read the reviews if this one (Feast for Crows) and was further discouraged.
After saying no to the series for a few weeks I was missing the world RR has built and some of the remaining characters. I was optimistic that he would rebuild the cast and crew and narration was not as bad as it sounded.
The narration is truly mystifying. There was a huge turnover and I am sure that Roy can only do so many voices, even as talented as he is. There are plenty of new characters and some of the voices are going to be changed or modified (it also sounds like he has aged in the break between productions). For my money, he took one of the few interesting main characters remaining (Aria) and completely changed the character. The first voice and tone used to match the rest of the family and now it is something completely different. She has gone through a lot of changes, but there is no reason to think that her inner voice would be that different. It would be like a person moving from Montana to England and sounding cockney in a few months.
As for the story. Much of the story-type is the same as before. If you like the first three, I think you will like (and be able to look past the narration) the fourth. I think that the characters he has brought up to replace the old set is not as strong - they don't have my interest for personal storylines or internal conflict. The ones that do have these qualities have been put into minor parts - some have barely been heard from. RR seems to have an affliction that will not let him use any of his strengths and try to get by with his weakest players. Putting just enough on the field to keep stringing us along.
I keep hoping that the potentially interesting storylines and characters that he keeps holding in reserve will be brought out for some amazing end game. I wouldn't bet on it....but I probably will wind up buying the next book just because I have already gone this far.
The series has been growing on me. I continued to the second and third books based almost entirely on the performance of Roy. Given the *spoiler alert* slaughter of this book and all the reviews that Roy changed for the fourth book I had sworn off the rest of the series. But now after a couple of months without any GoT, I think I am really missing the world and going to jump in for at least 1 more round.
Martin does an excellent job building an amazing world full of wonderful geographies and interesting peoples. He has created enthralling situations. I would say that his pinnacle would be the food - his description of the feasts makes my mouth water even as I listen while eating. A normal everyday meal in his books sound amazing.
But I have not enjoyed his pacing and it seemed like very little happened or moved forward. I have finally gotten to know some characters and then they all died. But then the book finished strong - all the death created a lot of movement. I am missing being in that world enough to give the next one another chance.
For me, this book brought together a lot of different ideas I have read about regarding life in the Americas before Europeans. There is a lot of interesting work being done on these continents. There is a good chance that as these studies (in their early phases) continue some of these concepts will turn out not to be exactly right, but I think that we are moving in the right direction. The superficial analysis completed in early archeological work laden with European assumptions has been slowly turned.
The Americas before Europeans was a much more complex place than we learned about in grade school.
I found the history very entertaining and to see how civilization and culture and food/drink is all intertwined is very interesting.
For breaking down most of history into 6 stages, the information was more detailed than I was expecting.
I had read other things about most of these beverages, though most of the spirit information was new to me.
There are some moments where he gets very philosophical and discusses great truths, but mostly this is Penn telling stories. Very entertaining and interesting if you like the performer lifestyle.
His best moments are when he is showing how to hold 2 completely different ideas in your head at the same time. The ability to completely disagree with someone - down to their core beliefs - but understand that they are still human and good and deserve the right to follow what they believe as long as no one is injured.
There are shocking "Vegas" moments, but one of the most telling moments, for me, is when he attempts to convince people that they should share their beliefs with everyone. If you let your fellow man follow the wrong path then you are not following your path. So disagree with the person selling a lifestyle or faith, but understand that is their duty...and yours.
Being an atheist doesn't really simplify anything.
I think this would be a great book for a scientist/engineer that is starting to cook or a cook that is interested in the science. The author provides interesting stories related to different food related scientific phenomenon. The science is generally basic, though he does put in a little extra detail for those that already know some of the material. Nothing earth-shattering, but great general information. And he answers many age-old questions.
This is a long-developing story with a lot of detail and many characters. I had a hard time keeping all of them straight, but the detailed narration is a big help.
There is a lot going on and many details in this long story, but the characters are well developed and intriguing. Though many of them do not survive the brutal world this story takes place in. Listening to this while away on business, many of the food descriptions here particularly enticing. But the story lines are good too if you have the hours to devote.
There are some minor technical flaws such as the opening sentences of some chapters are repeated and there is a repeated 30 minutes in the fourth section. But in whole, a great production that keeps the pace moving and adds detail to the characters.
I bought this book as while I was working in China. For me the murder mystery is interesting but really a vehicle for a look into the unique world of 1930s China.
A country where the money and power was split between a host of foreign nations all looking to get out before the heavy work of defending it from an aggressive neighbor came due. People divided by culture, wealth, beliefs, habits, politics, gender.
China is an amazing study of contrasts and it is constantly shown that China's past was more confusing than the present.
I would recommend reading this book just for the glimpse it gives into how China and the West have interacted in the past (and often continue to do so in the present).
This book is a must-read if you are interested in where your food comes from, how it gets to your plate, and what is in it. Not all food has the same history and contorted path, but the threats are the same. Dilution, mislabeling, adulterating, and blatant cheating.
Like most popular items that carry a premium price - the masses want it cheaper and there are shady businesspeople that are willing to let them think they got a good deal. The power and quality of real olive oil is an amazing story. The artisans that bring it to the table have much history to share. Unfortunately, they are being squeezed out of business and the consumer is getting cheated by the same thing - lack of standards and meaningful rules that tell consumers what is in a product and where it came from so they can make an educated choice.
Hopefully, with more awareness things can be changed and the consumer will know what they are buying and eating.
The only thing I would change is the glossary at the end. This is of limited use in audio format and should be at the very end after the "Tips and Suggestions" for finding, buying, and using real olive oil.
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