I'll give this book very high marks for historical accuracy - down to the cold, wet summer of 1348 and the livestock falling to the pestilence as well as humans. Compare that to Follet's World Without End, where it is always bright and sunny.
The story itself is pretty good - a group of travellers are thrown together and try to outrun the plague, while we learn about their lives and secrets. I suppose you could say the same about your typical zombie movie. It's working here, however. My main criticism would be the "twist" ending (no spoilers), which is wholly unnecessary to wrapping up the story. I suppose it does resolve the question as to why the author chose that particular voice as narrator, but the story would have worked just as well without it.
This book as a screenplay, which may have been at the back of the author's mind. There are a couple of themes you could work with - the continuum of loyalism, especially after the death of Hitler is one, how to best arrange for one's personal destiny if you know you're going to be on the losing side is another.
Ironically, the author spends much more time fleshing out the portrayal of the detainees and various German/Austrian notables. It could be he couldn't resist the thought of forcing the swashbuckling tank commander into a yankee stereotype, best introduced in a headlong rush of action.
There are the makings of a much better narrative than that which was told. Ultimately disappointing. A popular history written by someone hoping the screenplay gets picked up.
and when I do, you will see that the review is as I have foretold, so that afterward you will agree that the review was indeed the review to which I alluded.
Can we have just a little less breathless foreshadowing?
I was looking for a book to play during family car trips. I thought this fantasy coming-of-age book would fit the bill.
There is a gem of a story in here, and paced nicely enough to keep you interested. This isn't the work of a polished author, yet there is real promise. The language can be a little stilted. There are more than a few holes, and some holes which the author evidently could not bridge without resorting to "here a miracle occurs". These are a mild distraction.
The narrator could use a lesson or two from Simon Vance or Bronson Pinchot... It doesn't seem to matter which character is speaking, you can never seem to picture anything but a British university student desperately trying to land a role in the summer stock production.
Distractions aside, I was pleased to see a story where the kid (hero) couldn't quite measure up to his own unrealistic expectations, and yet finds he is ideally suited to be a hero in his own right. I was also pleased to see interesting and engaging secondary characters whose aspiration was NOT to storm castles or slay the dragon.
I'm a history buff chose titles based on what I find interesting at the time. I hadn't spent a lot of time on the naval war in the Pacific, after Coral Sea/Midway. From a distance, everything just looks inevitable. This title was chosen by my book club, and they found a real winner.
Inevitable is clearly in the eye of the beholder. Hornfischer makes a compelling case that the Imperial Navy still had a lot of arrows to loose, and the USN was still had a lot of catching up to do in its forced transition from a peacetime navy to the dominant force on the water it would become.
This would make a fine history on its own, but Hornfischer's writing is a real treat as well. I'd read his writing if the history of 1960's macrame were the topic.
I downloaded this for a road trip with my 12 yr old budding geologist daughter. The characters are the strongest part of this story, along with Pierce's vision of stone magic. The storyline is good as a whole, but can be a little shaky. (dodging spoilers) The party seems to take an inordinately long time to figure out what is going on, and as the climax is approaching we are treated to two or three chapters of pointless argument.
I guess I'd differ from the rave reviews of the narration - I found it pedestrian at best. The narrators could have brought so much more to the table with some well-chosen emphasis now and again. To be fair, they were hobbled by Pierce's dialog which may have passed on the page, but become labored aloud.
Sweeping generalization laced with unsupportable assertions, tied together with the theory that if it had something in common with the Second Punic War, it must be a direct result of Cannae.
Cannae was a very dark day for the Roman Republic to be sure, but many of the trends O'Connell declares were a direct result were already well under way before Hannibal left Iberia.
Some of data regarding the organization and tactics of the Roman and Carthegean warriors is presented well, but it felt a little like digging through knee-deep mud in search of agates. I eventually gave up.
I've listened to several Cornwell books on Audible. Usually they're compelling, tense and with superb narration. While this one held my interest, the tension was a little forced, the narrator simply "acceptable" and the audio quality suspect in places (at least places other than a school gymnasium).
I'm not clear on why the characters are a little more shallow than the typical Cornwell - perhaps he's trying to stick closer to the written record of the Penobscot expidition. I'd have to add that I really appreciate the "Author's Notes" Cornwell includes at the end of his novels, wherein he expands somewhat on the historical context and his departures for the purposes of narrative. That was sadly absent in this edition.
Hmmm... History as a travelogue.
The format works extremely well here. While the actual history is well, pedestrian, that's not the point.
By framing the exposition as "Here is what you'll find..." or "this might surprise you..." the reader is engaged with the culture on an intuitive level seldom experienced outside the trappings of historical fiction.
The title pretty much sums up the authors main thesis - that the Mexican War was unique in both molding the characters of many notable figures of the Civil War, as well as strengthening the bonds they'd already formed through their tenure at West Point.
His coverage of the war itself sometimes takes a back seat to the "characterizations" of Grant, Lee, Jefferson Davis and George Meade, but is still compelling - especially from a political perspective. However, there were some gaffes in offhanded comments about the War of 1812 and the Civil War. For example, characterizing Pickett's Charge as a "one of the great *cavalry* charges of the Civil War" left one scratching their head - especially given that George Pickett was one of figures highlighted (albeit only briefly).
Still, the book is worth the effort, if only to shed some light on an often-ignored chapter of American history.
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