It seems the great majority of negative comments or reviews on this title seem to hinge on the fact that this book does not offer a sufficiently detailed account of this, that, or the other incident of Churchill's life or career or facet of the man himself.
Please consider then, that this book is a summary biography of a man who was a prominent statesman on the geopolitical stage through two of the most pivotal conflicts in world history (the two world wars), and overlapping into a third (the cold war), who found the time, energy, and genius to be a prolific Nobel-Prize winning author, a first-rate adventurer, accomplished painter, master orator, wit, and general renaissance man.
DOZENS of books would have to be written to tell the life story of such a man in any kind of detail. HUNDREDS have. Churchill himself published some 43 book-length works in 72 volumes, many of them documenting his own experiences.
If you want to delve into deep details of all, or some or other episode or adventure out of the incredibly broad sweep of this man's titanic life experience, then by all means, jump into the deep reservoir of works on (or by) Churchill. I should think you could easily keep on reading about Churchill in greater depth for the next decade or so; at least. IF you are not quite ready to devote years, and just want to start out with a reasonable-length summary biography of a truly amazing character, this is a very well written text, very well read by the always competent Simon Prebble.
Will Patton's narration was just superb, and Burke is a good wordsmith who paints evocative backdrops of Louisiana (25 years ago or so), and does maintain suspense along the way. The bad news is the story is preposterously unbelievable, and doesn't really go anywhere sufficient to compensate us for suspending our critical faculties along the way.
Dave Robicheaux is the narrator and protagonist. In this book, he is a thug-rouge cop who goes around trespassing, destroying property, beating and shooting people, but all, fantastically, with truly incredible impunity. He delivers himself carelessly into the hands of experienced, ruthless killers multiple times, but they never just "off" him. He is even kidnapped from his indefensible houseboat, but then goes right back there like nothing happened, to pass out drunk, take nice naps in his hammock on the boat, and otherwise makes himself a big, fat, juicy, helpless obnoxious target, all without fatal consequence.
Similarly, Robicheaux perpetrates one blatantly illegal, blatantly violent act after another as a police detective, and while a raging alcoholic suspended police detective, with only token resistance from the law. The author unboxes his entire erector set to construct a panoply of conspicuous deus ex machina to keep this floundering fool alive and out of jail, from one chapter to the next.
Amazingly, we are repeatedly told by Dave's Captain / supervisor what a great, great, great detective Robicheax is, but everything Robicheaux does or tells us about himself, absolutely belies this. In the entire book, he doesn't arrest anyone legally as a police officer, doesn't bring even one single solitary criminal to justice by the law. Awesome great cop. Right.
Since the author gives us a narrator-protagonist whose actions consist primarily of illegal, antisocial, belligerent, brutish behavior, it just doesn't wash when he slides out the soap box to weave moral and philosophical ramblings in, around, and among the protagonist's violent and lawless rampages; --speechifying about Viet Nam, politics, society, morality, ethics, etc. Similarly, the incongruous insertion into the plot line of occasional vignettes of Robicheaux's self-righteous indignation at the acts of other bad cops just don't square with the consistent lawlessness of the "hero".
Now as I have said, there is suspense along the way in this story, and I'm okay with dramatic license and even blatantly unbelievable story lines, if there's some similarly dramatic payoff at the end. I mean, we all enjoy the guilty pleasure of say, a good James Bond movie right? Unfortunately, Dave Robicheaux doesn't save the world. He doesn't uncover a big government conspiracy (though this story line seems to be loosely based on the Iran-Contra scandal), or bust open the syndicate. He doesn't redeem himself by bringing anyone to justice before the law. At the end of his long bumbling trail of dumb thuggery, he has simply run out of people and reasons to bludgeon, beat, shoot, and / or utterly fail to make even one righteous arrest or a single legal case. I guess we're supposed to be elated when he resigns from the force and rides off into the sunset with the obligatory gratuitous love interest. More like good riddance to a floundering bad actor / unhinged whack job, in whom we are given little reason to sympathize.
This was a disappointing audiobook.
I read and enjoyed Morgan's ALTERED CARBON, and picked this title thinking it would be another winner, but was very disappointed.
My main discontent with THIRTEEN, was that I just couldn't find anything much to like or identify with in any of the characters. In the context of a glacially-paced 24+ hour unabridged listen, this book is a tough row to hoe. The plot was byzantine and far-fetched, and as it didn't involve any higher interest such as saving the world or curing an epidemic, there wasn't anything in the plot line to carry me past or through my (at best) indifference to the characters and their doings.
The novel follows one of a group of genetically-modified professional super-killers called "Thirteens". Our protagonist is a Thirteen whose job it is to hunt other Thirteens. In the abstract, this is a perfectly good premise, but as written by Morgan, this becomes an interminable story of a thug running around bullying and threatening people; which I vainly hoped would lead somewhere before long.
It didn't, and I eventually became offended when the plot, such as it was, required cheap devices to keep the story moving, I should say plodding along; such as when a "bad-guy" Thirteen confronts the protagonist Thirteen in a public tavern. The "bad-guy" 13, born, bred and highly, highly, highly trained as a ruthlessly efficient killing machine, monologues inexplicably for what must have been 10 pages; --rather than just pulling the trigger. This preposterously implausible inaction eventually (after a long, long swath of unbelievable speechifying) allows the protagonist to escape. Ugh, how cheesy! I wanted my money back right there.
But wait there's more! There is also the constant irritation of Morgan's political and religious axe-grinding. He places his story in a future where the United States has shattered into pieces. Here again is a perfectly good premise, but Morgan fills it with political correctness on steroids, so the story positively (or I should say negatively) drips with contempt for Christians, Republicans, masculinity, nationalism, etc, etc. While this isn't wildly far fetched as our possible future, Morgan stacks his cards in such a gratuitously one-sided manner, and thrusts these cards in the readers face so repetitiously and at such length, as to annoy and offend, with what one can only surmise could be his self-indulgence of his political biases.
I gave it a game effort, making it through about 20 hours, at which point I still hasn't found anything or anyone to root for, or anything else of enough interest to motivate me to continue listening.
I can't recommend this one.
For example when he introduces his "PERMA" acronym, he gives his explanation of what each letter stands for out of order (he skips the "R"), so that you're distracted and backing up the recording to see if you missed it! Further, he doesn't stick to using the terms the letters stand for. Similarly, he introduces characters for no apparent reason, some of whom are never heard from again, while other characters are referred back to in passing and only after a long series of meanders. The effect is to leave the reader overwhelmed with incomplete and disjointed concepts and characters, many of which are never followed up on, and very few of which are fleshed out to any significant degree.
More the shame it is, because throughout the book, the good Doctor teases us with snippets of genius and inspirational insights, then frustrates us by flitting away into glossed over academic course outlines, often-gratuitous autobiography, and other lengthy, multi-layered digressions, leaving the reader stranded in a thicket of rambles, and little edified for the odyssey.
There is a tremendous opportunity for someone to distill Seligman's experience, research and theories, into a linear, focused, comprehensible reference book that would facilitate the practical application of "Positive Psychology" by the non-academic.
Before buying this book, you should ask yourself how much shallow, self-aggrandizing twaddle, and sloganeering fluff, delivered in a humorless and boring style, that you are willing sift through to find good and helpful information that can benefit your life and career (that you can probably find elsewhere without wallowing in this!).
Ironically, while the writer stresses the importance of being interesting and entertaining, he presents himself to us as a unctuous, humorless self-promoting suck-up, and a bore, droning on endlessly in prose heavily saturated with the words, "I", "me", and "mine". He waxes self-satisfied in referring to his own career, in the presumptuous attitude that we tiny people already look up to him as a great star, and he seems to expect that we credit him with the authority due to his self-perceived fame and stratospheric success. When he does tell an exemplary story of notable other than his superior self, he still tends to resort to self-aggrandizing name dropping, while he oozes treacly fawnings on those he transparently patronizes.
If you can look beyond the shallowness of trading in people and relationships for strategic personal gain, with all the posing and falseness that implies, the underlying message of this book deeply buried though it is, suggests we reach out to those around us, to form relationships, so as to cooperate, and help each other. The problem with the book is that the author's tone and methods, in my opinion, advise that you live your entire life as a calculating P.R. shill, focused on image, impressions, cheap flattery and back-scratching, rather than relations based on true regard, genuine substance, and commitment.
Unlike other reviewers, I think the narrator of this book renders the text almost perfectly. He sounds, in his voice and tone, like a humorless, smug snob who, one imagines, grew up with a nickname like "Biff", and thereby perfectly conveys the near-fatal complacence of the author.
This was a very difficult listen, despite being packed with a good deal of interesting content, partly because of a digressive manner of writing, but mostly because of terrible narration. There are enough other "brain books" that you might better select another, or read this in print form.
I liked the idea, and the early part of this book, in that it's a "biography" of a book, where the author discusses the book rather than reading the book itself. With a book as old and "deep" as Republic, this seemed like a good way to get some perspective on the work. Unfortunately, as the book goes on, Blackburn increasingly abuses his readers by indulging his bitter political bias against George Bush and Neoconservatives.
Blackburn is as entitled to his arbitrary political opinions as anyone else, but not in the context of a book purporting to give an objective analysis of subject matter far removed from modern day political partisanship.
Blackburn's assertion, for example, that that the ousting of an aggressive and murderous Dictator sitting on one of the world's greatest stores of wealth in Iraq, is somehow equivalent or analogous to the Athenian Greeks putting an apparently innocent, unobtrusive neighboring city-state to the sword because they could, is not only gratuitous, it is a whopping non-sequitur.
Since the entire reason for this book, given the structure I've described above, necessarily leaves the reader to trust the author to provide an objective, reasonable analysis of the subject material at hand, Blackburn's ongoing grinding of his political axe soon had me asking whether his take on Plato and philosophy was as overtly biased and arbitrary as his needlessly imposed political views. As the frequency of political harping increased as the book went on, I turned it off, for good, about two thirds of the way through.
If you are someone who genuinely wants to concentrate on and find good and trustworthy information on the title subject, you will be distracted at best, and probably disgusted, as I was, by this author's political self-indulgence.
I would suggest that if Mr. Blackburn wishes to be a political pundit, he should advertise himself, and be accountable, as such.
I got about two thirds of the way through this seemingly random compendium of feel-goodisms and well-worn platitudes before I gave up and moved on. The presentation consists of a rambling collection of fluffy anecdotes which every so often have something to do with money.
If you would find it novel and worthwhile to pay money to hear, that sometimes if you stop thinking about a problem the answer will come to you, or that you should avoid "the blame game" or that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket, or that you should seek out a mentor, or you otherwise seek a thrown-together laundry pile of simplistic bromides available anywhere for decades, many of which have little or nothing to do with managing money, then this is the book for you.
If you are in money-trouble and want laser-sharp advice on how to get through a rough patch or dig yourself out of a hole, I'd recommend the TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER by Dave Ramsey. If you want to improve your overall attitude about money and put yourself on a genuine course toward accumulating real wealth, I'd recommend THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR, by Stanley and Dannko. If you want a general self-help self-improvement book I'd recommend a host of others, from Dale Carnegie to Zig Zigler, rather than this contrived ball o fluff. In any case, if you're looking for a good and worthwhile listen, I recommend you look elsewhere.
A COMPREHENSIVE review of the life of Alexander Hamilton, rich with psychological, social, and political context of the times, giving superb insights into the the greatness and NOT-so-greatness of several of the founding fathers, including a candid exposition of Hamilton's genius, and (literally fatal) shortcomings.
Well read and entertaining, this is a SUPERB read for anyone interested in the history, politics and personalities of the founding generation.
I was very pleased with the content and super, inspirational message of this short primer on the ability to and importance of shaping one's life through one's thoughts. It is a must read, and I found myself wishing, in this age of ubiquitous "crapertainment", that more people could be exposed to this message.
To be fair to the reader, "As a Man Thinketh" is written in the style of the 19th century, with phrasing that is odd to the 21st century ear, so it would be a very challenging read for any narrator. Having said that, I have never heard, in approximately two decades of enjoying "books on tape", a more monotonous rendering of any literature than the narrator of this book lazily applies here. There is no change in tone, or rhythm, no pauses or emphasis, nor any such effort to read the material as if to convey the meaning of the text. It took me three hours to listen to this 38 minute reading the first time, because I constantly had to rewind the program to "get" what the author was trying to say because of the amateur reading of the narrator. It was worth the effort, but what a shame that audible doesn't offer a reading of this classic which transcribes it more justly!
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