This is a phenomenal book. Set in Tennessee,in Appalachia, it is the story of the disruption caused by a monarch butterfly community that is misplaced from Mexico to a Tennessee mountain. The story is narrated through Dellarobia Turnbow. She is a high school graduate whose education was interrupted by a premarital miscarried pregnancy, followed by marriage and 2 children. She is married into a family of sheep breeders who do not accept her, and to their son who is not her intellectual equal. She accidentally discovers the displaced monarch community occupying the fir forests above her house, while on a tryst. The book describes the social, environmental and scientific ramifications of the butterfly relocation. Along the way, Ovid Byron, a butterfly biologist arrives and rekindles in Dellarobia an academic interest in learning which had been dormant since high school. All this and much, much more, including family politics, insight into how a child sees the world and sympathy for every one. Also, there is the amazing biology and life cycle of the monarchs and interpretation of how global warming is affecting this planet.
There is description of the press distortions of events and the effect of Dellarobia suddenly being a celebrity.
This book is definitely a romantic book, in that everyone is seen through rosy and sympathetic filters. For instance, I have not run into any young mothers who have the innate intelligence, inquisitiveness, imagination and thirst for knowledge attributed to Dellarobia. On the other hand that is the charm which makes you enthralled with her.Also, as a doctor and scientist, I have yet to know anyone with the purity of motive and idealism of Ovid Byron, but I would like to think they exist. This is the best book I have listened to on books on tape and it is read lovingly by its creator,
In the Jewish religion on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement,there is a reckoning. All of your good deeds are written down and the all of the bad deeds. they are placed on a scale and you are so judged. This book is Robert Moses' day or reckoning. All of the good deeds and bad deeds are recorded over more than 66 hours of audio and judged by Robert Caro, master biographer. In the process we learn as much about Robert Caro and his values as Robert Moses. Mr. Caro is able to make the most mundane traffic planning commitee meetings into Shakesperian drama and power struggles. And there are a lifetime of planning and building documented here. In fact, we learn very little of Robert Moses personal life, aside from the fact he was mean to his older brother Paul and cheated him out of his birthright.
On the other hand we learn about all of the power struggles and maneuvering that went into the planning and building of Jones Beach and the development of Long Island. We learn of Moses ability to drive a stake and take possession of homes, lands and other people's ideas to achieve his goal of parks and public works. How he would sell his soul to the devil for power. How he utilized public resources and facilites fro his own devices.And how he knowingly displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, unnecessarily for his title one projects and super highways and bridges.
Along the waty we learn everything there is to know about New York politics and power struggles, inclusive of the years 1920 to 1970. Including, Alfred Smith, Franklin Roosevelt, Herman Lehman, Fiorello Laguardia, Nelson Rockefeller, Robert Wagner and John Lindsay.
Mr .Caro has invested 10 years of his life into investigating and interviewing every one involved with at least 82 years of Mr. Moses 91 year life. Even after listening to the entire book it is difficult to know how to judge Mr. Moses. Almost no one else in the History of the world had such single mindedness and drive to acquire power through bulilding parks, bridges and roads, rather than by obtaining high offices or fighting wars. As Mr. Caro points out there is no comparable person in recorded history.
This is by far the most edifying book I have ever read, and I would say the best book I have listened to or read. I guess I will have to listen to the Lyndon Johnson series to fill the void in my life.
The Sarajevo Haggadah is real and has a porous history. Some facts are known and it is the skeleton for the imagined history as revealed here. The story is told through a book restorer called to Sarjevo to restore the book which has survived the Bosnian war through the intervention of a muslim Librarian. ( not the first time as it turns out. There are small clues hidden throughout the book as to what has transpired in its production and survival. During the course of the narrative the listener learns what the book restorer knows and history of which she is unaware. Also during the course of the story the book restorer learns about her father, who she never met and her mother , an Australian neurosurgeoin, who has contrived to isolate her from her father and his family to advance her carreer. There is a romance as well. And a history of the jewish people from 1500 to the present. As a Jewish doctor I found myself completely engrossed in this book and could recognize myself and my family in many of the characters. This is a must read
I listened to this book immediately after listening to Stalin's Ghost.They are clearly woven by the same hand but in many ways different. Mr Cruz Smith has become a tour guide for Soviet catastrophes and abominations. In Wolves Eat Dogs it is the disaster from the fallout of the explosion at Chernobyl. In Stalin's Ghost it is the mass executions at the killing fields of Tver. In either case he makes the history and its exposition fascinating.
Most of the story in Wolves eat Dogs occurs in the exclusion Zone around Chernobyl, where assorted characters, doctors and scientists reside in a radioactive wonderland. Animals thrive and plants thrive despite the radioactivity because there are no humans, a much greater threat to their survival. Mammoth cities constructed before the explosion remain abandoned and uninhabited, just as would occur in an Armageddon scenario. And what remains, human, animal and plant is from an alien Universe.Into this setting stumbles Arkhady Renko, a Moscow investigator, whose sole preoccupation is to discover the truth, which makes him laughable because he is completely out of step with everyone else who is driven by lust, avarice and revenge. These include an American mobster masquerading as a Hassidic jew, a radioactive Russian doctor and many, many more. The murder mystery itself is not nearly as interesting as the zone, the explanation for how Chernobyl occurred and the bungled aftermath of the explosion, and finally the creation of this netherworld. This is one of the most creative and off beat books I have read. I highly recommend it.
The story line takes place in Moscow and Tver, a Russsian city where the battle of Moscow took place. There a series of seemingly unrelated events that occur, and in the end Cruz Smith, like a Russian egg, fits them all together magically and seamlessly.
First there are sightings of Stalin at an old Subway station. Renko is asked to investigate.
Then a black beret-Kuznitsky is found with a meat cleaver in his neck by his wife who is inebriated. The investigators are Itzakoff and Oordman former Black Berets, in Chechnia.
Then there is Eva, a doctor shared as a lover by Renko and Oordman. Then there is the killing of a pizza delivery man by a Black Beret with the story of a terrorist battle in Chechnia brought out at the trial. There is a thread about Jenia an abandoned boy of 11, who is a chess genius and to whom Renko becomes a guardian. There is an old chess master who remains a staunch communist. There is a Russian and American film crew in Moscow and Tver. who manage Itzakoff's campaign for the Senate on the rogue National Patriots Party ticket(the party of Stalin's ghost).. There is Ginsburg a hunchback investigative reporter who takes pictures of the battle in Chechnia. A good part of this book is spent with the battlefield diggers of Tver. and it is here that everything gets resolved.
Along the way Renko gets garroted by a beautiful Russian harpist, shot in the head point blank by Jenia's father, hit in the head with a shovel and knifed. That he survives these catastrophic events and keeps on coming is the weakness (? strength) of this book. To give more information- and there is much more- would spoil it for virgin listeners.
The strength s of this book is the sparse but effective language, the irony, and most of all the humor. At times things are so absurd that I burst out laughing. The reader, Henry Stozier is excellent. This book is also a lesson in recent and World War II Russian history.
In the end it all hangs together
This book is actually a lot of fun. The book occurs between November 2013 and March 2014.To begin with, it creates an Armageddon scenario. Enter the Jakarta influenza which rapidly causes a pandemic. 20 percent of people die of ARDS in the first 2 days of being symptomatic. Millions of people around the world get infected and die. Tensions flare between China and the rest of the world.
Enter Alex Fletcher aka John Wayne, a former decorated Marine Captain who fought in Iraq in 2003. He is now a drug representative for Biosphere, the evil corporation that makes Teriflu, an antiviral that may be helpful against the Jakarta Influenza. The company wants to hoard the drug to make a big profit when people gets desperate. Alex defies them and gives all of his samples to Dr. Wright, an infectious disease specialist at Maine Medical Center in an altruistic gesture that costs him his job. The evil company sending Goons to threaten his family. Alex dispenses with them easily with a shotgun and pepper spray.
He the takes his family into quarantine. After that there is almost no more about the epidemic except when neighbors or family members die.
Alex has been preparing for just this moment for years by building a basement shelter and stocking it with a years worth of food and medical supplies and just about every weapon that is feasible for neighborhood warfare-assault rifles, Mossberg shotgun, night goggles, machine gun, pistols, ak17, m16, and assorted knives.
Alex lives in a suburban development outside Portland Maine, that is inhabited by upper middle class, Caucasians. There are no blacks, or ethnics anywhere to be found. The neighbors fall into two groups- right thinking Republicans and pinko liberals who want to take their neighbors belongings. The right thinking Republicans have huge gun arsenals and have thought ahead and stocked up for this event. The pinko liberals only have small arms and have not hoarded for this day. They want what the others have and try to get it in devious ways.
People in the neighborhood die off leaving empty houses. Desperate homeless people cruise his neighborhood trying to find an empty house to squat. Alex tries to select the propper squatter so that only good looking professionals can squat in his neighborhood. But a family of sociopathic liberals sneaks in and begins killing off their neighbors and their families. Do not fear. Alex and his neighbors, armed with state of the art weaponry ambush the filthy varmints and take them down. And the people with guns live happily ever after. The rest have died.
I listened to this book because I am a Doctor and love medical mysteries. Let me reassure the potential listener that this book requires no medical or scientific knowledge and could easily be comprehended by an average American teenager.
The language used to write this book is puerile at best and is written in the style of TV commercials. The reader, Joseph Morton, is adequate. Even though this book is long, it can be listened to while driving, playing xbox or watching TV. It requires only about 10% of your brain to comprehend it.
This book could easily have been wholly subsidized by the NRA.
This is the fourth book in the Dublin detective series. I have listened to all 4 books and after each book I have thought she can't do better than this and with each book Ms. French does better.
Listening to this book is like watching Michael Jordan shoot hoops. There is an innate beauty and perfection. To begin with the narrator Stephen Hogan is flawless. He uses an Irish brogue to perfection. He has a different inflection for each character and brings each character to life.
The plot here is a scaffolding with which Ms French can build the rich character interactions and descriptive landscapes, in the same way that the plot of Macbeth is a scaffolding for the magnificent language used by Shakespeare. In all of Ms. French books she uses the English language in a unique way. Using words in ways with which I am unaccustomed but which seem natural and an improvement on the existing usage. In her previous 3 books Ms French went of on long steam of consciousness descriptions which left me breathless and in awe, but frequently confused. In this book the language and descriptions are much more brief and precise but no less beautiful. Ms French has honed her descriptions and story development to be razor sharp.
The story itself is everyday. A beautiful family of four is found knifed in a house on a Broken Harbor estate.Three of the members die, The fourth, the mother of the two dead children is alive, but mutilated and in a coma. The case is assigned to a senior detective Michael "Scorcher " Kennedy who is seeking redemption after a previously botched case. He is paired with a rookie Richie and the two of them start off well, but eventually run into road blocks. Detective Kennedy has a psychotic sister who weaves in and out of the story causing havoc and mayhem.
His family has a history at Broken Harbor where the murders occur ( his mother committed suicide there). The estates themselves are abandoned and in disarray-like the people who occupy the houses there. Unraveling the murder and how it occurred is a thing of beauty.
To say more would spoil the book, which I can not do. If you start this book you will not be able to stop and will rue the moment it ends.
The majority of people in the world would be happy to live in the society and the political system described herein. It would be a vast improvement in their current circumstances. This would include about half of the people in the United States. Almost all of the people in Central and South America, Almost all of the people in Russia and Eastern Europe, Almost all of Africa, most of the middle East and most of Asia.
For perhaps 2/3 of the world's population their circumstances would be vastly improved by living in Gilead. There would be ample food and shelter, ample jobs and freedom from. Granted their would no be romance, but romance is not present where there is an absence of food and shelter and people are in survival mode. Think Uganda, Rwanda, The Congo, Iran,Iraq,Syria North Korea, Appalachia, Detroit and compare them to the handmaids circumstances and their is no contest. I would opt for the benevolent fascist state described here.
What makes it scary for most reader's is it has happened to well educated, wealthy Wasps in the United States, some of whom have been deprived of some simple privileges. They can't smoke or drink alcohol easily, they can't read magazines, they can't get ice cream, and sometimes they can't randomly choose their mates and sex. Most people in the world don't have these privileges. Also, they are stuck in a cast system. Most people in the world have a cast system or class system.
Mrs Atwood is a very talented writer and able to make ordinary events quite scary by renaming them or using them in a different context. For instance by renaming Senators commanders they take on a more Sinister identity (although I'm not certain anything could be more sinister than a senator). Their wives have become sterile and the need proxy carriers for their babies (not that much different than the wealthy do now). As, I mentioned Margaret Atwood is a talented writer and able to use language to convey an ominous mood that disappears when examined in the light of day. I should also mention that all of the Ethnics in our current society seem to have disappeared without explanation. Maybe this is the scary part. All of the Jews (all 12 million of them have emigrated to Israel). unless they were loud or obnoxious and they were dealt with differently (not that different then current society). All of the black people and Latinos have disappeared The disappearance of ethnic diversity may be a little bit scary.
I agree that Clare Danes reading is first class and almost makes one forget about how silly this book is compared to reality which is really scary. What is surprising is the willing suspension of disbelief of the readers who have evaluated this book and that any thinking person could take this book seriously after we have lived through Nazi Germany.
This is a book written by A Vietnam war hero to expurgate the demons which continued to haunt him after the war. It is about the taking and retaking of the mountain named Matterhorn ( located near the Vietnam-Laos border-strategically located along the North Vietnamese army supply lines) for no good reason except to kill GOOKS. Soldiers kill out of patriotic duty even when they know it is nonsensical. And along the way there are racial issues to be worked through, the drive for meaningless metals and unbelievable acts of heroism by ordinary men. This is a superior book.
This book is about a serial killer, driven (literally) by internal demons. There are aspects of this book that are inventive and spellbinding, such as the 9 part crime magazine expose of the man of sorrow (the serial killer Alex Price and his sister who are abducted at the beginning of the book), which give the narration of the chronological development of the serial killer. Then, there are aspects of the story which are contrived and unbelievable and detract from the value of the book. This includes resuscitation of a thee hero, Daniel Clark, dead for 21 + minutes and having him back at work the next day. And then, deliberately stopping the same man's heart to get a NDE (near death experience- which happens quite frequently here) image and then resuscitating him in a pathology laboratory that just happens to have all then necessary medications and equipment on hand. There are instances where characters change identity, location and body configuration without good explanation. There is an exorcism along the way. And a great deal about church dogma.If you can suspend critical thinking and disbelief, then this book is entertaining. I would compare it to a Dan Brown read where everything happens at a whirlwind pace and without any explanation, Very entertaining as long as you don't think too much about it.
It is easy to love this book. It describes the world as it should be and can be. Mrs. Kinsolver has transposed the garden of Eden to Zebulon National Forest with its denizens being Eve (Dianna Wolfe), Adam (Eddie Bondo) and a big black snake.Also, there are other nature lovers such as Lucia Maloof Landowski Widenor- a moth biologist transposed to an Egg Fork farm and Garnett Walker the third and Nanny Rolley. All of these characters are interwoven. There are no bad people or creatures in this book, only gods creations doing what they were supposed to do in the way he intended, despite the intentions of Man to disrupt his order. Along the way we learn about coyotes and their amazing survival instincts, moth life cycles and the advantages of farming without pesticides. Every page is crammed full of biology, including reading animal scat, phermomes, insect life cycles, goat biology the history of the American chestnut tree and the blight which destroyed the species and the ecosystem order with predators at the top of the chain. The book is written as three separate threads, Predators, Moth love and Old Chestnuts.The premise is that we are all driven by our hormones and the need to reproduce and we are powerless to alter natures blue print. The book is like a Wordsworth poem written in the Appalachian twang of Tennessee. I have listened to the book twice and read major reviews, and none of the reviews captures the beauty and magnificence of the descriptions of nature, science, and biology as described by Mrs. Kingsolver. This is the most Romantic and loving book I have ever listened to, especially as read by Mrs. Kingsolver.
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