I would not know since I have not read the print version.
I am not certain how this question applies to what is essentially a "documentary" account. What I found compelling about this book is that the author has uncovered new information ad perspectives on one of the greatest unsolved cases from the 19th century. Just when I thought there was nothing more to say about the Ripper murders, Trevor Marriott uncovers clues and leads left uncovered for over a century, leading him to an entirely different conclusion than other authors on the topic.
Such leads include a conclusion that Jack the Ripper need not have had any supposed surgical skill at all. He further disputes the list of canonical victims. Rather than the usual five (Nichols, Stride, Eddows, Chapman and Kelly) he includes victims before Polly Ann Nichols and victims after Mary Jane Kelly, as well as victims in foreign countries. By expanding his view of victims he also expands the list of suspects.
While the Ripper Killings will never be definitively solved due to the long passage of time and the loss of physical evidence, Marriott has presented a compelling circumstantial case for his chosen suspect.
This book is not an actual mystery, but instead is a book about a mystery. I suppose if I had to name a favourite part it would be the description of the author came to discount the theory that Jack the Ripper possessed advanced surgical skill.
I am not allowed the luxury of listening to books in a single sitting, and I deem this a silly question.
While I have not read the print version, I feel certain that the audio presentation must be far better because the narrator moves seamlessly between Irish, English and American accents. Since in some ways Ireland itself is a character, hearing the native speech is crucial for the reader to feel the atmosphere of the country.
Erin Hart has wonderfully woven archeology and modern forensics to solve not one, but two mysteries, one centuries old and the other a recent cold case. As an historian with an interest in archeology, I have always found the "bog bodies" of Europe to be fascinating if unintentional time capsules. This novel clearly presents the character of Irish society from the 17th century to the present, all in the guise of a modern murder mystery.
Ms. McMahon's reading is beautiful, her accents for the various characters clear and compelling. She gracefully shifts from Irish to English to the US, from male to female, from young to old
For me, the most memorable character is the murdered woman whose head is found in a peat bog at the opening of the book, a beautiful girl with masses of red hair. The investigation into her brutal death in the 17th century leads the local Gardai (Gaelic for "police") to reopen a more recent cold case. While this latter case forms the major plot of the novel, the story always returns to the Cailin Rua (Gaelic for "red haired girl") and does not leave the reader wanting for answers.
My only criticism of the format is the confusing lineup of books and chapters; these "books" each having 10-12 chapters in Audible.com's production. While I understand and accept the needs of audio production, it would have been better to inform the reader the exact location within the book (or books as the case might be) for the chapter list. I suggest readers use the installed bookmark system rather than rely solely on the cutoff place. This book is far too brilliant to leave complicated by audio formatting.
Colourful, In-Depth, Informative
Considering this book covers a vast portion of early human history it is impossible to assign particular value to a single character.
Picking just one episode is difficult, but the most memorable to me was the exchange between King Croesus of Lydia and King Cyrus of Persia on the night the Persians looted the fabled wealth of the Lydians. Noting that the defeated monarch was quiet as his city burned, Cyrus asked how he felt about losing his wealth in this manner. "It is not my wealth they are stealing," Croesus replied. "It is yours." Valuable insight into the nature of conquest even today.
Although my field is 19th century Victoriana, I have an interest in many periods of history, in particular the Aegean Bronze Age and the early Celts in Europe. This book blends ancient historical accounts, myths, legends, religious texts to weave a tapestry of early human history, including civilizations as diverse as Mesopotamia, India, China and Europe. It is a massive undertaking.
I accept that accuracy is not always possible when the only texts available are those that have been translated, interpreted, and even deified. While experts may disagree on the finer points, the overall effort is worthy of credit. To keep all these many threads separate and clear is a mighty undertaking and I applaud the author for the attempt.
No historical account can be perfect as new discoveries come to light all the time, from archeological digs and manuscript finds to revisions of classic literature. If we waited for historians to agree on the details, no history would ever be written. And that would be a great loss. This is a fine historical overview and what it lacks in depth is more than made up for in breadth.
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