Shantaram is a wonderfully complex and entertaining story that is so detailed in its scope and vivid in its descriptions that it should be considered a modern classic. Perhaps that is not strong enough. When you read most classics, they rarely live upto the hype surrounding them, which Gregory David Robert's work has no problem exceeding.
The performance of the narrator, Humphrey Bower, is perhaps the best single-actor performance I have personally experienced. The vast and diverse cast of characters each has their own unique voice, tone, inflection, and accent which are so expertly delivered that you forget it is just one man delivering them.
I usually try to think if some sober, detached reason to dislike a work, even one which I enjoy, but I have no negative points to note. Five stars because I cannot elect to offer six.
This audiobook is a somewhat interesting account of the deadliest out break of Cholera in London's storied history of outbreaks. It gives an interesting account of city life for lower class Londoners of the day and insights as to how the medical and scientific community of the day operated. It gets a bit dry after the first half, and the ending of the book leaves the subject almost entirely to speculate about the future threats of bioterrorism and nuclear warfare.
The "Conclusion" and "Epilogue" of this audiobook are full of proselytizing about the greatness and moral superiority of city dwellers who are apparently more intelligent, more tolerant, more environmentally conscious, just all around better people. This was written by an inhabitant of NYC who says he would only move after 50,000 people had died in a viral catastrophe, and then only reluctantly.
He also theorizes that cities are more likely to survive a long term shortage of oil, since people in cities don't drive cars as often. This is laughable. How does food get into the city? ON A TRUCK. Also ships. How does it get from the port? ON A TRUCK. What do trucks (and most ships) need to run? Oil and gas.
There is also a good bit of detail about how viruses work and how the microbial world operates, but this books insight is greatly damaged by implying that people who believe in God are superstitious obstructionists, since God cannot be proven, but people who are not willing to betray a peaceful and spacious existence outside of cities are an affront to mother Gaia, since Gaia is DEFINITELY real. No proof required.
Other than the political proselytizing and speculation, this is an okay book.
I have read or listened to nearly every one of the "Politically Incorrect Guide" series since I first found Thomas E. Woods Jr.'s "Politically Incorrect Guide to American History". While all of these books are good, some are better than others. If I had to pick one for it's historical insight, accurate articulation of ideas and concepts, and fascinating evaluations of legal rulings, it would be Kevin R. C. Gutzman's "Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution". I would consider this book a "must read" for anyone interested in American History or the US Legal system.
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