For once, here is an author who can do a good job reading his own book.
Much of the content was predictable, but I still learned -- or reaffirmed -- the main lesson.
When this book first cam out I decided to skip it. It is not really science fiction -- just a weak "alternative future" tale. But I have been listening to the news lately and in many places religious fanatics are kidnapping women and girls and forcing them into unwanted marriages. This tale has become all too real. So I decided to give this book a try.
It is a good "listen" and I am glad I spent time with it. The voice of the protagonist describes a thuggish takeover of part of the US by a group of right wing religious Christians. It is a military state -- ethnically cleansed and at constant war with all the non-believers. It is a nightmare dystopia where dissidents are murdered outright and everyone must conform to the religious standards in word and deed. Sounds a lot like ISIS -- although this book was written well before
The narrator is a woman who's husband and daughter have "disappeared". Because of very low fertility rates, she has been trained as a "handmaiden" and assigned to one of the leading politicians. Her job is to produce a child for the commander's wife. In this society, all women are completely subjugated to the service of men. They are not allowed to read or write or live or work on their own. They wear veils. Unmarried men are kept away. Men are only awarded wives when they complete military service.
It is already happening all over the world. Could it happen here?
I listened to this book because
1) It was selected for a book club I belong to.
2) It is a bestseller
3) I had just seen the hauntingly beautiful picture which is the title.
Donna Dartt is an engaging writer, she is a vivid wordsmith and all of her descriptions of people and places are engaging. She is great at inventing lively character with whom I can identify. She is great at describing her protagonist (and narrator's) inner life. She writes well.
On the downside, she does not know when to stop. Halfway through the book I began to get quite bored with the constant repetition of drugging episodes. By the end I was hoping our "hero" would just overdose and put us all out of our misery.
I began by being very engaged and interested. I ended by wondering, "Why all the fuss about this book?" A good editor would have restored some balance and saved all the good parts.
If you decide to listen to this book, fast forward through the last two hours and just pick up the end.ing.
I read the complete Sherlock Holmes as a child. Now, at age 70, I listen with the same pleasure. No movie or TV version of these tales has ever come close to the original.
Conan Doyle writes so simply. The power of these stories is a mystery to me.
Beautifully narrated this book (actually many books) contain hours of listening pleasure.
This book seems like a good idea. Take each element in the periodic table and tell the reader something interesting about that element. This would work better if there were anly six or eight elements. Unfortunately, there are over 100 elements. This cleaver enterprise gets dull very fast. I like chemistry. But I do not like loads and loads of unrelated facts.
There are no thematic ideas to tie this vast load of trivia together. It is like listening to the cards of Trivial Pursuit being read aloud. The first half dozen are interesting. After that you just tune out. Skip this book in favor of UNCLE TUNGSTEN by Oliver Sacks. That is a fascinating book with lots of chemistry in it.
If Shakespeare had written a novel instead of a play -- this might be close.. There are some nice descriptions to set the time and place. There is an additional character to tie things together and move the "history" along. If Giuseppe Verdi can turn Macbeth into a first rate opera, why not a novel?
This book is interesting and well written, but I have seen the play and it is totally fantastic! You can't beat Shakespeare at the writing game. This book lacks -- well -- it lacks drama!
Oh dear! I am a great Dava Sobel fan. I loved LONGITUDE so much that I went to Greenwich in England, just to see those clocks. I reread GALILEO'S DAUGHTER twice.
Dava Sobel is a fantastic science writer.
But this book is just silly. Starting with Mercury and moving outward she combines all kinds of unrelated drivel about each planet. No plot. No Theme. Nothing to focus on.
A complete waste of a good credit.
The author, Tamim Ansary, is a devout Muslim. Born in the Middle East, he is now a professor of Islamic studies and history in the US. He lives in two worlds. In this lucid and well written book, he attempts to describe the history, sociology, and general world view of Islam. This is a tall order, but he does it well.
In the author's view the values of the Islamic world are innately different than the values of the West. The central feature is the "Uma" -- the collective society. The aim of the Uma is to care for all of it's members. To do this requires unity and a traditional code of conduct. Women are supposed to be closeted and home oriented. Individuals are supposed to follow community rules for the good of all. Religion is the primary socializing force and so the religious leaders must be in charge.
The author does not promote Islamic ideals over those of Western Democracy. He is just trying to explain how we arrived where we are today. I am writing this review during the Jan.8th 2015 hostage crisis in Paris. So this book is very relevant. Intellectually, Tamim Ansary seems totally in tune with the free values of his adopted country. Emotionally he seems to long for the social closeness and safety of his Islamic heritage. But you really cannot have it both ways.
This book has helped me understand the current news much better. However it does not offer any solutions.
The story of Galileo, the famous astronomer, is well known. Galileo had a companion whom he did not marry because she was "beneath" him in social status. They had three children together. The son was legitimized, but the daughters (ages 10 and 12) were sent to a convent and cloistered there for the rest of their lives. Galileo remained in close contact with his daughters and corresponded with his eldest Soeur Maria Cileste.
Dava Sobel has reconstructed the life and character of Maria from the correspondence with her illustrious father. This is a double story. We are told a great deal about Galileo's discoveries, thoughts and writings. What is unique is that we also learn about the everyday life of these two remarkable people. Maria was a brilliant woman who was totally devoted to her father and her vocation.
An absolute "must read". I have listened several times and enjoy it more with each retelling.
I usually avoid both war stories and spy stories. If this book hadn't been selected for my favorite book club I never would have picked it up. It is a great read and I enjoyed every page. The Agent Zig-zag of the title was a double agent the British sent to spy on Germany in WWII. He began his career as a safe-cracker and thief. He was in prison when he was selected as a spy. I don't want to tell you the entire story -- get the book and listen for yourself. This is a true story. Most of the events could be made up. It is excellently written and beautifully read.
How did this book become so famous? There were plenty of adventure tales -- both fictional and real. The plot is simple minded. The characters are uninteresting caricatures. You lean nothing about Africa. A total waste of time. The narrator is fine -- but he has nothing to work with. This book is also totally racist. The only woman in it is a witch.
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