First if I have to rate this book on a 5 point scale I guess I have to give it a 3, but really I would say it's higher than that but I can't justify giving it a 4.
This book covers a point in history I knew almost nothing about -- which can make it more interesting but also more interesting since I don't know the outcome of each event. The downside is trying to keep track of who is who, a nearly 30-hour book mixed with French and foreign locations can make it hard to follow at times, but normally skipping back a minute or two takes care of that issue. The book is very long, I normally like that but for the reasons stated it was a chore to get all the way through, but I did and I did learn quite a bit even if I wasn't as entertained as I normally am when learning new material.
One thing that was annoying was at the beginning of the book when the author feels that its necessary to lecture the listener about the evils of torture and how ineffective it is. I would like to note to the author that the biggest torturers in the book, the FLN, won. That doesn't mean I promote the usage of it, but It was a very annoying, anti-logical point to hear. To be fair this isn't an anti-US book so while you might be annoyed for a couple of minutes here or there it doesn't ruin the book, it's just kind of annoying.
Going into this book I had read some the reviews that had questioned the authenticity of the story, along with the rebuttals provided by Lt Col Boyd and his son. In my opinion the questions were stronger than the rebuttal but as my grand-father served in Korea and there isn't a ton out there on Audible about it and I've read just about everything else I decided I'd give it a try and see what I thought.
In the beginning of the book the author explains that it's been a very long time since this event occurred and as such he can't recall the exact dialog that took place all the time. This is very reasonable, however I personally don't like the way they addressed this issue providing the various characters with basically movie lines. The entire book in fact reads like a movie - in some cases that is good, in this case it is not since it reads like a 60s WWII flick you've seen 100 times with predictable characters saying lines you would have sworn you've heard before. I would have left out the dialog all together if it was in doubt and just stuck as much as possible on what was going on from a factual standpoint. The dialog really really took me out of it and made it feel like I was reading a novel - and again not in a good way, in a this is completely fake way.
So if you give a pass on the dialog is the story believable? I just don't know. I certainly do not want to call a retired Lt Col a lair but there are so many things in the story that don't make sense and nothing is verifiable. I don't know what can be done to prove anything but without a shred of evidence and movie script characters it's so very difficult to just assume everything is on the up and up. It very well may be, and I truly hope it is - however my gut feeling from reading everything I can get my hands on about Korea and WWII this story just doesn't jive with what I know.
If you have an interest in the subject my only advise would be to listen to it and make up your own mind.
As for the reader he did a very good job, everything was well paced, he used different voices to help you keep track of who was talking and as far as I know I didn't hear any obvious mistakes. Well done. If I could give 4 1/2 stars I would, but it's a bit closer to 4 stars than 5 so I'll leave it at 4.
The concept of this book is interesting - I've read well over a hundred WWII books and I love learning about events from the opposing point of view. A great example of this is Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy - it tells the story leading up to Pearl Harbor from the Japanese point of view - it's well written, extremely interesting and tells a story without inserting opinion.
On the other side you have this book. It's not written very well, it's written from a stand point that all white people are bad and the book is quite contradictory. For example the book constantly complains about how the "white" powers won't assist the Chinese as much as they would like, while also mentioning how corrupt and inept the Chinese leadership is (which is the reason given by the "white" powers on why they won't give more assistance).
Also the author clearly is a socialist and goes out of their way to excuse the actions of the communists whenever possible.
So that's the down side.
The good side is that the book covers a lot of new ground and while I would triple check any facts given out in the book at least you're learning new stuff, even if it's only in general terms. For that reason I'll give the book 3 stars. If the subject matter had been approached by someone with less of a bias and was more historical and less opinionated it could be a four star book, and if it was written better it could be a five start book.
The reader does an acceptable job - nothing special but nothing bad.
Overall the book is worth getting if you're interested in the time period as there are extremely limited options available on Audible. However know what you're getting isn't a great book or even a good book - but it will have to do until a good or great book comes along.
A very well written interesting read on the series of events that lead to WWII from the Japanese perspective. Certainly an incomplete history but I already know the American / western side so that's what made this such a good read.
The author goes out of their way to make note that when you try to explain history from a certain side of an event it can come of as being an apologist for that side. I was worried this would mean we'd get some politically correct "history" in an effort to blame the US for everything. Happily that is not the case here, while the US, like all countries, makes mistakes I felt everything was handled extremely fairly and the author did a great job of just laying out events as the Japanese seen them - which is exactly what I was looking for. In retrospect I don't think the authors note was needed as this book in no way came off as being apologetic, at least not in my opinion.
The reader does a good job, nothing fancy but is easy to listen to and didn't make any obvious mistakes - at least as far as I know.
Overall if you're interested in learning the Japanese perspective of the events leading to Pearl Harbor, this is an excellent read. I've read (listened) to well over 100 books about WWII on Audible and this is right up there with the best of them since it covered ground rarely covered and seemed to be very well researched and the story remained interesting throughout.
I've always been interested by what happened just after after WWII, WWI, and the Civil War ended. How do you go from wartime to peace, how is it to live day to day. I grab whatever books are available on Audible for the subject so this book interested me in that regard.
So how does the book do? Well it's hit and miss. This is by no means a serious historical read, while it covers a lot of ground it doesn't cover anything in-depth. Also it was funny to me that near the end of the book the author uses the phrase "American smugness" since from the beginning of the book I was thinking that this book heavily suffers from typical European smugness. NOTE - it's not anti-American by any means, it's just that smarmy European attitude. So if you can deal with that, and it's by no means the worst I've ever heard, there is a lot of interesting information to be found.
The reader does a good job, it's mostly a straight read but the reader has good pacing and timing, very professional. Also he'll throw in a few different voices to help you along - so if it's an American speaking he'll do his American accent, etc. This can help you keep track of who he's quoting so it's welcomed.
Overall you're getting what the description of the book claims, if that sounds interesting to you, you should enjoy the book.
So right off the bat let me say this is an excellent general overview of the Civil War - but not of Reconstruction. The book is around 20 hours long and he don't even get to Reconstruction until the last hour and a half. So know that coming in and you shouldn't be disappointed.
OK now for the review.
At this point I've read and listened to probably more than a hundred of Civil War books, this would rank near the top of them. This would be a great book for someone that doesn't know much about the Civil War as it is not a military history of the war and it's not in great depth, instead it more or less is a narrative that provides atmosphere and gives you all the fundamentals you need to understand what happened and why. At the same time I still found it interesting as a refresher since it's easy to listen to and well structured. There wasn't a lot of new material in there but the other does a good job of keeping the story moving and not going back over the same material you've read in other history books 100 times. He does bring new narratives to the story, personal accounts and such that I have not heard before and that helps great for the Civil War buff.
Another review said that the book has a southern bias and that's ridiculous, I've read enough Civil War material to know what is biased and what isn't, this clearly falls into the non-biased category.
The reader does an excellent job as well.
So in closing I'd highly recommend this book to people who want to begin to have an understanding of the Civil War and want it in an interesting and easy to read (listen to) format. If you're just starting out this book should be interesting to you and hopefully will work as a bridge to get you into more in-depth reading (listening) later.
Also I very much believe anyone already interested in the Civil War that might want a refresher or just wants a good narrative of the war will enjoy this as well.
I do NOT recommend this for anyone that want's an understanding of Reconstruction as it's breezed through way to quickly to be of any use. If you can get past that this is very very much a 5-star book.
I bought this book after reading the authors other book that is available on Audible. I very much enjoyed that book as the author put together a book that was a collection of private diaries, narrated things at times but mostly was more of an editor than anything. That book was interesting in that he let the people speak and mostly kept his opinions out of it.
This book is the exact opposite of that. Instead of letting the story tell itself the author feels to the need to constantly lecture you to make sure you get the point. He overstates the obvious over and over, instead of approaching the story from a historical point of view he approaches it like a someone on a moral crusade. The author is so biased in the way he presents information its completely natural to wonder what he left out. We're all very well aware that blacks were treated badly, but the way to show that would have been to let each party tell their story themselves. The author notes at the beginning of the book how well documented this event was, yet rarely seems to use much of that documentation for anything.
Overall this book was very frustrating since if the author stuck to his previous format he could have made an interesting book that would have been a good read on a subject that many people know nothing about.
It's not a worthless book, but it's nowhere near a good book. Locals to Memphis might find this book to be more enjoyable as it has a good amount of location information. I know nothing of Memphis and didn't find it distracting, but someone that knew the area would probably be able to pick up some interesting tidbits.
The reader was acceptable, nothing special but not bad either.
I think I have over a hundred audio books about the Civil War but there is very little available on Audible about the time period after the Civil War. This book helps fill that gap somewhat. You can read the description to understand what the book is about - the author tells the story of several people in the south and how they lived near the end of the war and in the months afterwards. The author does a great job of telling their stories without getting in their way. Everything moves at a quick pace and the only complaint I have is that the book could have been much much longer - that is said in a good way. The book doesn't get bogged down in political correctness - nor is it a lost cause book either, it's just the stories of a few individuals and it's immensely interesting.
From the production side this time Audible actually does a great job with a book they produced themselves. They have different readers for the different people that are highlighted. The book gives you maybe 30-40 mins on someone, then moves on to someone else, and then back to the original person. It's a great way to keep the story moving and keep it interesting. A true 5-star production, the first time I think I could ever say that about something Audible produced.
If you read the summary and it sounds at all interesting to you then don't hesitate to give it a listen.
I've read a ton of WWII books so I wouldn't say there is much I learned from this book, but it is a great single volume collection and it's very readable. Another reviewer said that you needed to be a historian or something to read this, that is nonsense. While the book is long it moves at a a good pace and to me always remained interesting. I think the early years of any biography are the most difficult to keep interesting but again I think Kershaw did a good job of providing detail but not getting bogged down in detail. Everything is covered and at times I actually wish there was more detail if anything, not less. Again this is a 40-hour long book so there is a good amount of detail, but I never was bored by it.
The reader does an excellent job throughout.
Overall if you're of average intelligence and can stand the length this book will pose no challenges for you. Even though I knew almost everything that was about to happen I still found myself getting wrapped up in the story. This is a historical-biography written in an interesting manner, which is no easy feat. I highly recommend.
I purchased this series years ago from The Teaching Company, thus the reason I can write a review on the day it's released on Audible. It's great to have this on Audible, and is a tremendous value.
Professor Gallagher is a world class instructor and this series works very well in the audio format. Since this is a series of 30-min lectures it's very easy to follow and if you want a refresher it's easy to go back and find whatever you're looking for.
I've read probably a hundred Civil War books at this point, and this lecture was the first in-depth I listened to that got me started and interested in the subject. It's a great book for all levels, but certainly the less you know the more you're learn -- this is a great introduction and even if you already know most everything this is an excellent way to refresh your knowledge.
Highly recommended, 5 stars.
I've read a ton of Civil War books so I was already very familiar with Davis but wanted something that just focused on him and in particular the post-Civil War period, this book works nicely for that, although I would have liked a more in-depth look at his later life. The first half of the book gets you to the Civil War, then the Civil War takes up probably 2/3rds of the 2nd half of the book. The pacing in the book is quite good and I never found the book to get dull or bogged down on trivial matters. The author does a good job of staying neutral for the most part. Overall this is an excellent addition for Civil War buffs or people that just want to know more about the South or Davis himself. I personally think it would make an excellent counterpart to anyone reading biographies on Lincoln to give a more well balanced view of his Presidency.
As for the reader I have mixed feelings, at the beginning of the book it really seems rushed -- but either I got used to it or he slowed down since about 1/3rd of the way into the book it no longer bothered me. Overall he does a good job, it's a straight read but appropriate for the content.
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