This is an excellent book full of interesting, useful and indeed essential information (e.g. on the unreliability of eye witnesses who are confident and in good faith). I recommend it to all. It is stimulating and significant, and entertaining as well. It is also good in this case to hear the author reading (although this is not always so: some authors' voices don't come across well, e.g. Malcolm Gladwell).
Perhaps, to refresh my memory.
John Tolland 'Rising Sun'; Max Hastings: 'Retribution'
This book provides valuable insight into the seemingly irrational way the Japanese behaved during World War II. For a non-Japanese, it is truly mind-boggling to learn how inefficient decision-making was in the Japanese government, and how this disastrous inefficiency was ingrained in Japanese culture and even language. It incidentally sheds much light on Japanese behavior today in various situations both political and personal.
Probably not, as much of it is ghastly: once one is familiar with the contents, it seems a bit pointless to go through the horrors a second time.
Excellent. However, Japanese names are often not pronounced correctly, but this is not a major problem.
Yes, it distressed me to learn about so many men behaving so horribly.
One of the essential moral issues anyone living after 1945 has to face is how masses of people could behave so brutishly, and in in the name of some ideal. The barbarism shown by German, Japanese and Russian military during World War II was not the wayward behavior of a few psychopaths or deviants but a systematic descent into almost unthinkable evil on the part of huge numbers of people deliberately incited by a few, and this in the name of some ideology. In each of these three cases, it came about in a unique way, and it is important and interesting to understand the particular elements at play. And in each instance, it is the perpetrators that are themselves the primary victims — the Japanese even more directly than others, since Japanese recruits were deliberatly brutalized (beaten and humiliated) to take away their humanity and turn them into instruments of brutality.
I take this occasion to recommend the most enlightening book I know on the problem of evil : Barbara Oakley's 2007 book 'Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend'
Informative, stimulating, important subject
I learned a lot about a part of the world that is much more important than I had imagined. I recommend it to anyone interested in what is going on in the world today.
Among the very best
No, but this one is terrific.
This book is a fantastic exposé of North Korea, a country that embodies Orwell's 1984 in a way that is terrifying and so extreme as to seem "unbelievable". This book conveys the sense of what it is to live under such a regime, and is extraordinarily informative in its vivid presentation. It is also a wonderful depiction of deep personal experience and could stand as a literary work of fiction, which alas it is not. And it is as exciting as any mystery or spy novel I've ever read. I simply could not put it down.
In part. To refresh my memory.
It focus on a very important aspect of what is surely one of the most horrific and therefore must-confront phenomenon in history: the Nazi attempt at world-domination and genocide. Women form half the population, and to understand their role in this is essential.According to Robert & Ruth Kempner's study "Women in Nazi Germany", cited by the author, German women were fanatical supporters who had been integrated into all aspects of the government..." They estimated 7 million indoctrinated, and that 600,000 were still dangerous at the end of the war because they were politically active and indoctrinators. But despite the alarming data they compiled, "crimal investigators and denazification courts ...concluded that women in the white-collar state machinery were not threats to postwar German society."
The author writes: "at least half a million women witnessed and contributed to the operations and terror of a genocidal war in the eastern territories. The Nazi regime mobilized a generation of young females revolutionaries who were conditioned to accept violence, to incite it, and to commit it, in defense of or as an assertion of Germany's superiority."
I would recommend buying the Kindle (or a paper) version to supplement the audiobook, as there are copious notes that are often of interest. These notes take up 40% of the Kindle edition and contain a plethora of references. The book is also useful for a better understanding of foreign names, often difficult to seize by ear even when correctly pronounced.
No. She reads well, and on the whole pronounces German words correctly.
Annette Schücking frustrating attempts to get courts to pursue war criminals.
When a German woman is executed for giving food and succor to Jewish victims.
The one reservation I have is that the author does not take into account recent research on psychopaths. Modern equipment allows an objective definition of psychopath as someone whose brain does not respond to certain types of stimuli and therefore is physiologically incapable of feelings that are the emotional underpinnings of morality. This research, unavailable to Nürnberg judges and to earlier historians and psychologists, must surely change the way we look at perpetrators of atrocities and our approach to society and moral order in general.
Yes, but with a warning that it is terribly repetitive. Other reviewers have pointed this out, but until I listened myself, I did not believe it could be that bad. The content however is of such great interest that I recommend it nonetheless.
Reveals many things that are important to know.
Illuminating, insightful, enriching
This is the overall the best account (by far) I've read/heard on the Tudors. By providing a good deal of background information that puts the events and personages in a meaningful historical perspective, it leads us to a deeper as well as broader understanding of the era and of the players, and revises our vision.
Dudley, whom I used to see as more foolish and rash.
One thing that comes through clearly in this book is how much the glamorous view of the Tudors was deliberately created through propaganda. And how great a difference there is between how Henry and Elizabeth wanted to see themselves and how they were. Some reviewers here object to the author "hating" Elizabeth. This seems to me off the mark. Our sympathy or antipathy to people of the past come from what we know of them, and to the extent that we learn more, our feelings change: we have no personal relationship with them and cannot know them except through books and documents. If what we've read has helped us develop strong feelings toward one or another, it is all to the good if other books come along to correct our illusions It does not seem to me that the author is in any way prejudiced against Henry or Elizabeth: in presenting many repulsive aspects of their behaviour that shatter the idealistic visions one might have had, Meyer is only drawing us closer to an objective and realistic appreciation.
I was struck by Meyer's brief evocation of Pope Alexander VI in this book as a monster: this is the received view that he would overturn in his next book 'The Borgias'. This would appear to illustrate his open-minded attitude toward historical inquiry, although one could more cynically take it as interested exploitation of contrarian views (an interpretation utterly refuted by the outstanding quality of his books, foremost perhaps his outstanding account of World War I).
The more I learn of history, the more I realize that famous people of the past are often not what they have been made out to be. And each time we revise our view of someone or something, we gain insight not only into that particular subject but into humanity itself. This is why history is of such passionate interest.
For me, yes; reading is more strenuous for me than listening, and I can listen while walking and doing all sorts of things, as well as lying in bed with my eyes closed.
No. He is a fine reader. He is energetic and seems interested. The pronunciation of Chinese names is poor but I suppose it is too much to expect readers to learn the pinyin system (but then, why not?). European names are for the most part well pronounced.
This is a book for everyone who loves Vermeer, and a great starting point for those not yet familiar with his paintings. It draws together things in a fascinating way (among others, the rise and fall of Dutch painting, the decisive role South American silver played in the fate of Europe and China, the rivalry between different European countries and how it played out at sea, the story of tobacco in Europe and Asia, the use and fabrication of porcelain in Europe, Chinese vs. European cartography ). I listened to the book almost in one sitting... in any case in one day. Didn't want to stop. By the way, do not be put off by the lack of illustrations. The Vermeer paintings are so well known that their images can easily be found (of course you will then have to go and see the paintings themselves, which is something to look forward to in itself).
Enlightening, exhilarating, stimulating
No, but he does an good job. Most of the foreign names are pronounced correctly, but some of the Italian names are mispronounced (putting the accent on the right syllable can be tricky).
Some of the more negative reviewers seem to want more romance, but this book is a historical account, and though it cannot but be of interest to anyone who acquainted with the TV series or with other works of fiction, its greatest appeal is to those of us who have a real interest in history rather than in historical fiction. I find it hard to understand the criticism. The author takes great pains in reviewing all available sources, as well as in explaining what previous writers on the subject failed to do, yet some complain that there is "not enough" on the Borgias, or that the book represents but one view among others.
I found the book particularly worthwhile because it made me understand better Renaissance Italy (on which I had read quite a few books) and the nature of the papacy (I had already listened to a couple of books on the papacy but this one gave me a better perception of some aspects).
It is of course also wonderful to to see Alexander VI and Lucretia in a new light. Despite his faults and failings, Alexander was clearly among the better popes of the period, and if there were such a thing as Hell, he would surely be among the minority of popes to escape it.This book also made me wonder what others especially in the more distant past (when records were scant and much is based on hearsay) have had their reputation destroyed by calumny.
That it gives a good idea of what actually went on in Tombstone and by extension in the old west.
Virgil Earp, Wyatt's elder brother, who seemed a good man, the kind that one imagines as lawman: strong, level-headed, reliable.
Josephine -- she isn't really a favourite character but she is pretty impressive, especially in her transformation into Wyatt's steadfast wife.
When Virgil Earp got killed: he deserved better.
It is really interesting to get perspective on the myths of the wild west that have been so important in the second half of the twentieth century (I had not realized that it started so late).
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