I have bought about ten books from Audibile, all dealing with history, and this may be my favorite.
On the surface, The Gun appears to be a book about the AK-47. But it's really the story of the evolution of military weapons and strategies, advances in technology from the 19th to the 20th century, and the history of this time period...through the sights of various arms designers and governments that shaped the world stage.
I like Chivers thesis that the AK-47 may have been more important in the long-run than the Soviets developing nuclear weapons.
The narration by Prichard is spot on.
If you are a fan of reading about history or current events, or...say, the film "Lord of War"...buy this audiobook right away.
This was a decent audiobook; it's well done and will keep you interested.
Gilbert, a former Legionaire himself, really shines in talking about how one joins the Legion, the brutal training, and the unit's unique traditions and outlook.
The author does a great job of including first hand accounts of life and war in the Legion, dating back to the 19th century.
The latter part of the book, the Legion's wars and battles, is a hit and miss affair. It seems like Gilbert really rushed to cover everything. The Legion's role in Algeria (1954-1962) was especially abridged; fortunately Alistair Horne's ridculously good "A Savage War of Peace" is available here on audible as well.
I would love to see this book with a more detailed second half, and an updated one that includes the Legion's role in Afghanistan, and its return to North Africa in the Mali operation that is ongoing as I type this.
"Kingdom of Fear" is essentially a collection of articles and essays by Hunter S. Thompson, chronicling his well-documented problems with authority starting at a very young age.
In the preface, HST gives some thoughts on the immediate post September 11th world, which are revelant even today (a dangerous, long lasting "anti-terrorist" security apparatus, for example).
"Kingdom" goes on to Hunter's early run-ins with the law in Louisville, his rise in the journalistic scene and the "Freak Power" campaign for Sheriff of Aspen that Thompson ran; Hunter being falsely accused of sexual assault by pornstar Gail Palmer; his hilarious guerilla war aganist a nouveau riche businessman who decides to set up his massive estate in Woody Creek, and of course, "Fear and Loathing in Elko" which poses the question "what if Clarence Thomas was really more depraved than previously thought?"
To conclude this is a decent compilation, but I would suggest "Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone" (also available on audible) first and foremost. That compilation includes some overlap with this one (such as "Fear and Loathing in Elko") but has far more content.
Somehow, "The Last Battle" is probably Cornelius Ryan's lesser known work on WWII, after his very famous books "The Longest Day" and "A Bridge Too Far" (yes, both prominent WWII films are based on his material).
If you've seen "The Longest Day" film, you have some idea what this book's narrative is going to be like. It covers the events from as many perspectives as possible...from high-ranking commanders to infantrymen to civilians...many of whom were interviewed by Ryan himself in the 1960's. In fact, many of the most poigiant moments of "The Last Battle" are told from the perspective of German civilians, who attempt to go about their daily lives as the Third Reich collapses in flames all around them.
Essentially, "The Last Battle" covers the invasion of Germany proper, on both the Western and Eastern Fronts, and the titular Battle of Berlin.
But, the heft of this work is in the individual stories. German commanders describe to Ryan how Hitler reacted to his own lunacy coming full circle in the last days of the war. Soviet generals compete to see which Russian army will seize the city first. American pilots reveal how the last aerial dogfight in WWII involved US scout flyers shooting down a opposing German observation plane with Colt .45 1911 pistols. In Berlin, Zoo keepers desperately try to save the animals they were charged with caring for. Nuns struggle to prepare their maternity ward for the worst once Soviet rear-eschelon troops, drunk and prone to rape, arrive to exact revenge for atrocities commited aganist the USSR.
This book is a powerful, moving, and highly informative work.
I stumbled into this book at a Barnes and Noble, and while I did not buy it, I made a mental note to listen to it on here. Extremely glad I did.
Woodward essentially builds off of earlier works to spell out eleven regional cultures that he argues make up the US (minus Polynesian Hawaii and Latin-Caribbean south Florida), Canada, and northern Mexico. Here's a few of them.
First Nations: Encompassing Northern Canada, Greenland, much of the Yukon and Alaska. The "First Nations" of course refers to areas where Native Americans (and their values) still are predominant.
El Norte; The first non-native regional culture to develop. Essentially a pioneer Latino psyche, born on the fringes of Mexico, and what would become the Southwestern US after 1848.
Tidewater: The region including North Carolina, some of Maryland, Virginia proper, and Delaware. Centered on the Chesapeake, this was the first region inhabited by English-speaking colonists.
Interestingly, Woodward includes the greater New York City Metro Area as it's own culture, and makes an excellent case for it. He argues that "New Netherland" is not much different from its early Dutch roots today.
Yankeedom, is essentially New England and its most direct diaspora, stretching West bordering Canada over to the easternmost counties of the Dakotas. Yankeedom also includes New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada. Yankeedom was founded by the Puritans...the Pilgrims...who first set foot in the region in 1620.
Woodward argues that most political issues in US history were in fact motivated by regional differences and rivalries. While Woodward shows his own colors at the very end of the book he is very unbiased throughout the rest; hard-right Conservatives may hate the idea that their modern ideas on economic deregulation, cheap labor, and a powerful 1% is largely born of Deep South influence. Very cosmopolitan, secular, Progressives may cringe to learn that their beliefs owe a lot to the plain, very religious, paternalistic Puritans.
If you're interested in American politics this is a must-listen.
Being someone that has read a lot of Hunter S. Thompson's work, I was a little skeptical about this compilation. But it's very well done...as the preface states, Rolling Stone attempted to create a narrative out of his various writings done for their magazine and they succeeded in a big way.
It essentially cronicles Hunter's time at Rolling Stone magazine starting in 1970. His personal correspondence with Rolling Stone's editoral staff (mostly unpublished until now) is included, as well as his account of the "Freak Power" local political movement that attempted to prevent Aspen, Colorado from becoming the high-brow Yuppie haven that it is today; "Strange Rumblings in Azltan" about the LAPD violence aganist Chicanos; the hilarious District Attorney's conference of his famous "Las Vegas" book; a sizeable chunk of "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign trail, 72'"...still an extremely relevant work. A ton of his "Politics from the Sports Desk" Rolling Stone features show up in this audiobook as well.
The narrator, Phil Gigante, does a good impression of Thompson as well when reading from Hunter's perspective.
It's a great listen, definately worth the credits. Now, what audible really needs is some more Hunter S, works...."Hell's Angels", the entire "Campaign Trail, 72'" and "The Curse of Lono" would be awesome I would listen to all of them.
I'm extremely torn on this book; probably more so than any of the dozen or so history titles I've listened to on audible so far.
On one hand, it is extremely imformative. Note that this book is really about the academics/scholars/scientists that were from Alexandria, or those who studied/lived there for a time. It's less about the city itself and it's history, although that of course works its way into Reid and Pollard's narrative...especially and the beginning and the end of the book.
There's some great stuff in here....Reid and Pollard argue that Archimedes may have lived in Alexandria; discuss the important Alexandrian Jewish community and its impact on early Christianity; flesh out the geographer Ptolemy; and discuss Celsus, an early critic of Christianity and its origins. Among other topics.
That said, I feel like this book would work better in print form, as the voiceover can drag on and there isn't the kind of narrative that makes a history book work in audio format.
This was an extremely interesting listen, on several not so well-known subjects: what happened after the Japanese surrendered in 1945, ending World War II...but not open hostilites, by any means.
Spector surveys events in China, Korea, French Indochina (Vietnam), and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) that would have wide and far-reaching consquences to the present day.
The start of the Cold War is on full display in China and Korea; in Indochina and the East Indies fledgeling independence movements are on the rise.
The Japanese did not simply go home either. Often they were fighting alongside their former enemies, the British Commonwealth, as both were sucked into trying to quell local unrest in the Indies and Indochina not long after VJ day.
A great book; I ordered this in print recently to own a physical copy.
Alister Horne, who specializes in the history of France, is easily one of the greatest historians of our era.
The Savage War of Peace is an amazing work on a subject of much importance.
I knew only basic facts about the war in Algeria before listening, and it's downright shocking how much the conflict for "Algerie Francaise" shaped the history of France. It might be the defining event of French history post WWII, even more so than the often written about Indochina War or the formation of the EU.
Horne's work is extremely detailed, and gripping. This is the best book I have listened to on audible.com. I'm buying the book in print form and have already bought other works by Horne on amazon.com.
It's a shame that Audible doesn't have other great works by Horne on here.
O'Connell's work is pretty good, but not great, to sum it up in a sentence.
This book is sort of a semi-biography of Hannibal, as well-done narrative of the Second Punic War.
"The Ghosts of Cannae" in the title refers to the Roman survivors of the battle, and O'Connell tells their story as well. This was the one really groundbreaking part of the book.
O'Connell does a fair job with this book and the audio/narration is excellent. But, the Second Punic War has been done to death by historians, and perhaps in greater detail (see Goldsworthy, Adrian).
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