Great Expectations and a Tale of Two Cities are examples of a master working at his peak. Both books are compelling, thought provoking and stand the test of time.
Great Expectations is populated by some of Dickens' most memorable characters. The spinster Miss Havisham, the convict Magwitch, the lawyer Jaggers and his clerk Wemmick with his "Aged Parent" and the beautiful Estella. Even though some language is out of popular usage, the study of social class and values both real and perceived is still compelling today.
A Tale of Two Cities, one of two historical novels by Dickens (the other the less compelling Barnaby Rudge), is both sweeping in scope and strangely clausterphobic in setting. Dickens story is set during the French Revolution and is a cautionary tale for the English to correct the social injustices present in mid 19th century England before the poor rise to stage a similar revolution for social justice in England. According to recent surveys, A Tale of Two Cities is the most popular book of all time with over 200 million copies sold.
The narration by the late Frank Mueller is stunning. I love both of these books and prefer to hear Mueller's compelling narration rather than read them myself. Just to hear Frank Mueller read these classics is worth the price.
Bart Ehrman has written many books on early Christianity directed for a general audience. This book is written in a more scholarly, academic format. The historical references abound and many academics are regularly quoted. Counterforgery is not always an easy book to follow but is ultimately a satisfying listen to those interested in the early foundations of the Christian church from a historical viewpoint,
The narration of this book is quite jarring. Some consideration could be given to the narrator mispronouncing some proper names. For instance, the historian Josephus is pronounced Joseph-us instead of Jo-see-fuss. But better known names such as Galatians and Corinthians are mispronounced. Epistle is given as e-pistol. Even common words as severely, revelatory, and maelstrom are mangled. The list goes on and on.
Despite the poor narration and the academic format, this book is full of interesting information regarding early Christian polemics that eventually shaped what we now know as the Christian religion.
As with their book Game Change which chronicled the 2008 presidential election, Halperin and Heilemann burrow deep into the back story of the 2012 presidential election. The book opens rivetingly with President Obama having a crisis within himself after his disastrous first debate performance in Denver.
The book continues with the surprising infighting of the Obama White House, Mitt Romney's need to court the right wing of his base by picking Paul Ryan as VP candidate, and Romney's disdain for popular New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Trivial matters such as Donald Trump's birther comments, Romney adviser Stuart Stevens vomiting over Clint Eastwood's Republican National Convention performance, and tidbits such as John Huntsman Sr. being the source of Harry Reid's claim that Mitt Romney paid no income taxes for ten years add to the mix along the way.
Although an enjoyable and fast paced read, this book lacks some of the urgency felt in Game Change. The latter part of the book dealing with the Republican Primary candidates is full of drama and excitement but strangely seems flat at the same time as most in the know, including the Obama camp, always expected Romney to win the nomination anyway.
The authors should be commended for their non-partisan approach to the efforts. This is a book about the political process and its characters who are presented with strengths and flaws. The authors manage to tell the tale without taking a side which is an accomplishment in itself.
Gladwell has written another provocative, engaging, page turner that takes an insightful look into what is an Underdog and how we perceive advantages and disadvantages. This book reads as a series of loosely interwoven stories that challenge some of our basic preconceived notions on power, acceptability, and what is considered right or correct.
From the opening reinterpretation of the David and Goliath story, Gladwell charts a path that leads through the March on Selma, the "troubles" of Northern Ireland, the London Blitz, to an uncompromising leukemia doctor, the man behind California's Three Strikes Law, and to an overachieving group of 12 year old girl basketball players to name a few. While arguably not heavy on scientific research and rigor, Gladwell does what he does best: provoke thought and present topics in an entertaining be it different light than one might expect.
Gladwell is a gifted narrator. His understated delivery is reminiscent of having a pleasant discussion with an old friend over a cup of coffee.
This book presents a straight forward view of the modern thinking of the historical Jesus. Reza Aslan presents a compelling case that Jesus in fact was a practicing Jew and how the Jesus movement developed into modern Christianity, mainly through the later universal acceptance of the works of Paul. Fascinating insights and research into the political dynamics of the early Church, the leadership of Jesus' brother James in Jerusalem (now largely minimized), Peter in Rome, his successor Clemente, and of course Paul.
Fans of Bart Ehrman will be in familiar territory. Reza Aslan is an exceptional narrator who enhances his work with an engaging performance.
How many times have you heard someone complain about the death of the English Language? Or that text message is creating a generation of uneducated idiots that will never be able to use the language in any meaningful way? McWhorter addresses these ideas and many more. He shows how all of this new usage continues the path the language has been on for hundreds of years. How about all of those stilted rules about split infinitives or no prepositions at the end of sentences? These are examples of misguided 19th century ideas to make English more like Latin that became fashionable in our grammar.
With his breezy style and sometimes quirky asides, Professor McWhorter brings life into these lectures and creates an enjoyable listening experience.
This book offers a serious overview of the historical, political and social forces that have shaped the attitudes of Texans and their views of government. The author has referred to this book as "Texas for Dummies" for people who are not dummies. This book does not so much engage the conservative vs progressive debate found in most books of this type, but rather explains the context of political thought in Texas.
Being both informative and humorous, this book addresses negative stereotypes and prejudices leveled unfairly against Texas by some uniformed critics while also detailing the strengths and weaknesses of Texas government. The author relies heavily on history, data, and social custom to present the pro-business pragmatism that actually supports the basis of Texas political thought, despite the ridiculous comments uttered at times by some publicity-seeking politicians.
Robert Langdon has amnesia. Langdon does not remember the last few days of his life. Bits and pieces come back to him. More bits and pieces come back to him that are then connected to previous bits and pieces. All is not what it seems.........more bits and pieces.......
Dan Brown has never been a great author but he usually can spin a page-turning tale that keeps the interest of the reader. The lazy plot device of main character amnesia detracts mightily from this story.
I have a request for Audible. Please have a category that includes all novels with the wearying, over-used, lazy story-telling plot device of amnesia.
In fairness, I began this book with the thought of how can a biography be written about a person that is almost lost to history. Claire Tomalin presented probably the best possible account of this mysterious figure. Unless some treasure trove of information about Nelly Ternan is found hidden away in a long forgotten vault, this book explains all we will ever know of her life.
Tomalin gives great detail of Ternan's family members who were all actors of some note, contemporaries, customs, and English society and views of the time. Also, a healthy amount of information regarding Dickens himself. Unfortunately, most things about Nelly Ternan are reduced to deduction, speculation, and supposition. One cannot fault Tomalin, as very little is known of Nelly Ternan, especially during the time of her involvement with Charles Dickens. So what is left is a "speculation biography".
Everyone knows the basic story of The Invisible Man. This is a solid telling of the H. G. Wells classic. The pathos, motivations, and constantly escalating violence is what makes this early science fiction story so powerful, even today. Wells masterfully tells the story, allowing us to slowly learn about the title character, first from the point of view of a small group of everyday people and later from the character who serves as the narrator of the tale and the Invisible Man himself.
Set in the prim, proper, and orderly world of late 1890's Victorian England, the events of this book explode against the structured life of the era. This book eerily foreshadows the coming ravages that the early 20th Century will inflict upon English society (and the World at large), exposing the darker side of human nature.
In an age of globalism, free-trade, and instantaneous mass media and social media, Mr Kaplan presents a well researched overview of how geography still impacts world events. All of the major hot spots are addressed: Europe, Iran, the Middle East including Syria, Russia and the former Soviet Union Republics, North and South Korea, and China and Southeast Asia.
The author presents the case that geography, man-made artificial boundaries, and ethnic strife will still determine political outcomes now and into the foreseeable future. Interesting listen, although a little dense at times. The rat-a-tat style employed by the narrator can be a little disconcerting at times. Overall, very informative.
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