I really enjoyed Quicksilver, originally the first of a trilogy of which this is meant to be the second book. Perhaps there were some warning signs in the fact that it was difficult to make out which book this was and how it fitted in the cycle. To say it is a sprawling novel would be an understatement. It is at times almost infuriatingly pleased with its own cleverness and it could easily have been half the length. And yet the whole thing just carries you along. There is a mordant sense of humour running through it which often saves the day when you feel you have heard one too many tall-tale, battle description or exegesis on economics and physics. The narrators are excellent with great voice characterisations. I docked it one star because it did almost drive me to distraction at times trying to keep up with all the plot twists. I would love to see someone try to bring these books to the big screen - there is a ready-made role there for Johnny Depp.
The Norman invasion is one of the pivotal moments in English history. However, beyond knowing the date 1066 and the "fact" that Harold died with a arrow to the eye, I did not know a whole lot about it. This book covers the event in pretty exhaustive detail. As another review has noted, the narrator does make listening to the book a little hard going. He has a strange rat-a-tat delivery and reads as if he is using an auto-cue. However, in mitigation, he has a very clear voice and delivery. I cannot speak for whether the material presented is controversial in any great way. The writer does lapse into the slightly irritating style of academic texts such as prefacing an obscure fact or complete conjecture with "Of course .." and using words like "ostensibly" and "arguably". Having said all that, I listened to the finish and felt somewhat more enlightened. I would recommend the book if you are interested in history in general and that period in particular. If not, I would not choose it as a starting point as its style is somewhere between an academic text and a popular history and it may not grab you.
I was lured into spending a credit on this book by the short snippet of a preview for it. The interaction reminded me a bit of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy's ship computer Eddie. Unfortunately, the book never really lived up to that level. On the positive side, there are lots of clever ideas in the plot and a wry sense of humour. So much science fiction and fantasy has been written over the last 50 years that it is an achievement to come up with anything original. It is narrated well by Wil Wheaton, who always seems to do a good job. It just never really sparkled for me - I was happy to listen to it but it didn't completely grab me. One of those books to while away a long journey.
Somebody helping Dan Brown with his writing skills. He has a facility for ripping-yarn style plots but his writing can be quite painful at times. Why does he keep repeating obvious plot points over and over? Why does it feel that he lifted a lot of material from travel guides to Florence and Venice? He is really heavy-handed delivering any kind of explanatory information. Why is there not even a glimmer of a sense of humour in the writing?
There is a horrible fascination with reading his stuff and trying to work out why his books are so popular so probably, yeah
The narrator was blameless. There is no way anyone could deliver some of the dialogues in this book in a way that made them sound like them came from real human beings.
It provided great material for rants during coffee breaks at work.
Makes Agatha Christie read like James Joyce in comparison.
It was a reasonably good listen. I like the whole concept of participatory journalism and, being susceptible to health and fitness fads myself, the core idea of the book was attractive. In the end, it was a little bit too light-weight and insubstantial for me. I know he was not attempting a truly "serious" book on the subject but it ended up feeling like not being one thing or another - not truly satirising the whole health and fitness obsession but not really fully committing to it either. I did like the descriptions of his grandfather and aunt.
I would be slow to recommend it because I did have to force myself to finish it.
I did not like the narrator's voice at all. Ironically it was not strong or punchy enough in delivering the material. I suspect I would have given a higher rating to the book if someone else had narrated it. I sometimes listen to audiobooks on a cheap docking station and his voice was barely intelligible.
His book is quite personal so I don't think there was much lacking with regard to insights into his personal life.
Wanted to like it more than I did ....
I loved the mix of science and anecdote in this book. As a software engineer with an interest in all areas of science, I found the meditations on what it means to be human and whether machines could ever qualify for the title fascinating. I think the book would appeal to a broad range of people. It is written in a really accessible fashion. The narration is also excellent.
I really liked the story behind the title for the book
CPR. I wanted to like this. I will give anyone who tries to make me laugh a hall-pass, a mulligan and a get out of jail card. But this book just did not do it for me. I probably like my humour sharper and edgier normally although Bob Newhart's book is one of my favourites and he is not exactly Lenny Bruce. I just found the humour in this border-line uncomfortable, like listening to you stuffy head-master trying to be witty.
He sounds like Bill Maher but with a script written by Bill Cosby.
The fact that I did not enjoy it probably says more about me than the book.
This, for me, is an example of how to make history boring and inaccessible to non-experts. It is just an array of facts - names, places, events - which assumes background knowledge that I am not even sure a world authority on the subject would have. I must admit to giving up after an hour or so. Maybe it was intended as at text book to blight the days of undergraduates?
I should start by saying that I had only a limited knowledge of the history of the second world war. In that respect, this book serves its purpose in that it gives a pretty straight-forward chronological account of the entire war. It is a huge subject and, even with the long running time, it is no mean task to do justice to the material. I thought the narrator did a good job although let down a bit by being considerably better at some accents than others.
What I did find increasingly disconcerting about the book was its tone. There seemed to be a little bit too much relish taken in the details and the almost jokey approach taken at times jarred for me. I also found his analysis of Hitler a little strange. It felt like he found him far more worthy of censure for his poor military strategic capabilities than say little details like his organization of the genocide of the jews and other "untermenschen". I am sure this is not the case but the emphasis seemed wrongly placed. In general, once the narrative strayed beyond reasonably cold and hard facts, I was not always convinced by it. For example, if an opinion was given on a debatable area, this was usually done by simply being emphatic, e.g. "of course this is nonsense", without actually giving any support for this opinion.
Not being American, I knew little or nothing about Teddy Roosevelt prior to reading this book. It starts with essentially the end of his political career which prompted the expedition described in the book. It certainly gives a compelling portrait of a supremely driven individual. In fact there are number of character studies in it of men compelled by a need to constantly prove themselves. It also gives a vivid snapshot of a period in time which already feels quite remote.
You get a very good feel for the huge discomforts and dangers of an expedition down the Amazon. People familiar with the writings of travelers such as Redmond O'Hanlon will recognise some of the more gruesome descriptions of the various members of the insect and animal world and how the can make life supremely unpleasant for any human travelling in their domain. I am not sure I entirely warmed to many of the principal characters, even if they were impressive in their achievements - it was hard to feel great sympathy for their plight since they had chosen to put themselves in harm's way.
The book was well narrated by Paul Michael who has a voice suited to the medium.
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