This is the first account I've read that was written by a reporter and I have to say it's a strikingly different experience than those written by troops. Most of it is devoted to the life and death decisions guys have to make out there and he's very good about laying out the facts and letting you consider it rather than injecting his own opinions into peoples' actions. There are a lot of characters and he does a good job of making sure that they are all fleshed out. The point of this book seemed to be as much about getting you acquainted with the Marines' tasks and hardships in overthrowing Saddam as it was getting you acquainted with exactly who we sent over there to do it. Once you get past the narration it's really a good book.
My only complaint was the narration which ranged from poor to absurd. The first half of it is SO over-articulated that it can be tortuous at times. For whatever reason he feels the need to make sure you don't miss a transition from one syllable to the next by punctuating the move from one to the next with drastic tone shifts and at times it's like he's just crisply sounding out every word. It's hard to describe but it's very unnatural and it ruins the flow of the book almost as much his complete lack of ability to decipher sarcasm and dry humor. Fortunately as the book progresses it becomes a bit more tolerable as he tones it down a little. The narrator also does a lot of accents but they all come out decidedly Mexican sounding, especially the two Filipinos. I'll be watching out for this narrator in the future.
There are many fascinating books on this topic on Audible, this one is not one of them. The author tends to wander into excessively long winded analogies and similes which when combined with a lack of any discernible or smooth transition between topics makes the progression of the book difficult to follow. I find myself tuning out, for example, during a 5 minute digressions into an elementary school project collecting stamps and postcards in boxes and hanging each on walls that when I come to I have no idea how the author got to some new topic. You can back up and force yourself to pay attention, but most of the time you'll find you didn't miss a segue, there just wasn't one.
Then there is the bizarre pronunciation of things like for example NASA as Nassau (of the Bahamas) combined with his "I am reading this, not dictating it, and my tone is intended to convey reading" narration style. The 3 on narration was a hard decision and I gave that out relative to some seriously terrible narration out there, not relative to a normal sale of 1-5.
I've been through about 10 books on this topic and this is the first I'm just not going to be able to finish.
I keep trying but I just can't do it. The narrator ought to be good and you'd think so from hearing a few moments of the preview. He reads clearly in a refined British accent, but he does a sort of "I'm reading a book!" style cadence with an unnatural inflection and unnatural pauses even where it is clear there must be no comma or semicolon. He seems to follow a pattern of 8-10 syllables per set and repeats the exact same intonation as he begins a sentence, does the characteristic pause, and completes the sentence.
The result is a narration that is SO FAR from the natural way people talk and with such disregard for the flow and intentional or necessary intonation of words that my mind just tunes it out as white noise and I keep having to pull myself back to it and telling my brain 'these are words! not just the same flow of altering pitches in a repeating pattern!' as he hits the same intonation at the end of the third word (for example) in every sentence no matter what it happened to be.
That may seem petty but maybe it's just me. I'm maybe 1/4 through and just can't go on which is disappointing because after all of the well narrated books Supporting string theory and others of the genre this is really a fascinating topic and the author has done a good job. I'll probably end up buying the paperback.
The only possibility for how this is so impossible to listen to is that the narrator practiced his robot voice before recording. I have suffered through some awful narration but when I say robot voice I mean (this is not a joke) Stephen Hawking is slightly less robot and Siri seems downright human by comparison. It must be intentional.
It's a shame because there were a few premises I tried to follow during the first hour or so, then skipped ahead, and again, to see if it was just the narrator's first time reading out loud (as is sometimes the case I think) and might get better, but no.
I have seen people be way too hard on narrators and that bugs me, but please trust me and do not even try.
I read several reviews about this being a book that gets really repetitive to the effect of snipers kill people and are awesome, REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT. I've also read that review about other special warfare non-fiction and usually found it to be false, but it's dead on here.
Don't get me wrong- the book isn't bad and it's not intentionally repetitive. The repetition comes from the fact that it's basically a series of personal narratives of snipers from all walks of life from Army to SEAL to zero military background civilian State Department contractor. Each has about an hour or so and you have to figure when these guys sum up their lives and opinions in an hour you're going to get a lot of really fly-over type information. There are lots of viewpoints from lots of people which makes this book more about perspective than detail.
There are fascinating parts and there are parts that you might think were just copy/pasted from several hours earlier that for all you know could be a verbatim repetition because you've heard so many similar sets of words since then.
Give it a chance, but if you want to listen to something else first, don't worry about it. This one will still be there.
The narration was very good, a rare thing here on Audible. During the time period this covers I was so heavily engrossed in the financial collapse that it was hard to keep an eye on what was going on with the semi-underground Right beyond the largest stories. This book gave the in-depth backstory that I wish I'd been able to keep up with at the time. It's really fortunate for the movement that he managed to get his life's story down on paper before his tragic death. He makes the argument that he's not special, that he just decided to do it, and he did it, and that others should too. Anyone who has even the slightest leaning toward the Tea Party's ideals will gain a lot from this book. If you didn't know Breitbart's voice and someone told you he was reading his own work here you'd believe them. His early life backstory drags on it bit but stick it out.
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