My first Neal Stephenson book, and it's hard to imagine how I might have been more disappointed. Small groups of people inexplicably crossing paths all around the world, endless gun fights with dozens of fatalities (except for any character important enough to have a name). I nearly stopped listening for good when a heroine and Middle Eastern Terrorist meet at gunpoint in the woods- only to have a wild animal come out of the woods during a critical seconds to attack the villain... and this absurdity repeats more than once. As far as the "connection" between the techno-MMRPG and the runaway "24" style terrorism plot... there actually isn't really any. I've give positive reviews to nearly every book I've ever listened too... couldn't force it on this one. REAMDE = Really Not Good.
As others have said, don't read too much about this book- just dive in, and be prepared for a mystery, thriller, haunted, steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, adult Scooby Doo. I can't imagine any listener not finding something to pull them in.
Narration is top-notch. I have listened to 70+ Audiobooks, and no other narrator manages to pull off so many characters so well.
I love biographies that don't read like fiction, and this is one of the best. No matter if you're not a huge tennis fan or barely remember Andre- I found myself disappointed that I had been so oblivious to many of these stories (thanks to YouTube, I've been catching up on many of the big events as I listened to this book).
Andre, of course. He's not perfect, and I wouldn't want to be him. His taste is music is awful, and appears to choose to be surrounded by an assortment of eccentric circus-worthy outcasts without even realizing it. Just like all of us, he's weird and flawed, and just trying to live the best life he can.
Narration is clear and well-paced (no need for 1.5x Playback speed here). Only "gripe" is his voice for female characters (it's the same for both of Andre's wives).
Sat on my Wish List forever- ended up blowing through the 18 hour book in only 2 weeks (while commuting & work-outs). No regrets.
Agent Zigzag was centered around a single character, and was excellent. Operation Mincemeat was written around a relatively small operation, and I enjoyed it as well. Double Cross attempts to use the similar character-based (fiction-like) writing style, but becomes lost in (what feels like) hundreds of characters throught Europe who are somehow associated with the massive D-Day invasion. "Page after page" seemed to revolve around minute details about individuals- what secretaries looked like, their interests, their demeanor, etc. Just as I began to form a picture of a person, it felt as if we moved on to someone else. In many cases, I feel like I learned details about random people who never were mentioned again.
Narration was pretty good, although I agree with others who suggest that Russian & German "accents" were overdone.
I discovered Atlas Shrugged before this earlier work, which (I think) explains my minor disappointment/complaints. There are many similarities here, as a protagonist stands alone from the masses around them and big moments are spoken in court rooms media (Radio in Atlas Shrugged, Newspaper editorials here). Ayn's thoughts are simply better assembled and the story is more worthy of one's time in the later work IMO. Still, "The Fountainhead" is worthwhile read with top-notch narration (although I found 1.5x playback speed to be best using the iPhone App).
During "Atlas Shrugged," I found the little to support the popular criticism of Rand's philosophy and writing talents. During this work, I found myself frustrated and wanting to echo them at times.
While I found this to be less enjoyable than "Agent Zigzag," I was truly surprised to learn how effective this well-known operation was. Recommended.
I now think those guys fishing for crabs on the Discovery Channel have it easy.
Here are the valid points discussed in this book: 1. The American military-complex isn't organized, funded, or controlled like it once was (pre ~1980's). 2. There are serious issues to be concerned about with regards to the current system. Here is the author's "leaps" that bothered me: 1. Everything about American Security/Conflict would be OK if things were operated like they used to be 2. Much of our military is comprised of bumbling morons far less intelligent than she is...
I actually felt the book was a worthwhile read. While the author devoted many chapters to condemning the calculated evil plots of various political figures, I found myself wanting to defend the views of people I have NEVER agreed with in my adult life (that's right, Reagan/Bush/Cheney, I've got your back for this ONE time only!) :)
Read this after Outliers- in addition to feeling "dated" (written 10+ years ago), I found many of the examples/stories to feel less connected than the later book.
Make no mistake: this is a complete, thoroughly researched, and well-organized account of one of the most infamous events of the Civil War. The Audible version is also well-narrated by Bronson Pinchot (that's right- "Balki" from Perfect Strangers). Unfortunately, I found myself constantly thinking about how many other Civil War heroes undoubtedly had far greater stories that were never told and/or never achieved the notoriety of this tale. It's not surprising that many of the movies, speeches, and books that previously dealt with this story felt the need to "embellish" the facts.
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