Penn Jillette is extremely entertaining as always -- note that this is more a collection of short stories but there really isn't a dud in there. Also since Penn is actually doing the reading it's that much better, in most cases you never want the author to read his own book, but in this case it's a very good thing. Note that this isn't an 8-hour anti-God rant, just short stories that mostly stick to a theme which makes it very easy to follow in audio format.
First let me say that Peter Carlson wrote one of my 3 most favorite audiobooks ever in K Blows Top, if you liked this book you should LOVE that one.
For this book I have mixed feelings. I've legit read well over 100 books on the Civil War at this point from every perspective. This book is certaining entertaining and it brings a point of view to events, but the problem is with the source material. Both "reporters" would in no way be considered reporters by todays standards, and thats with the joke of the media we have. Instead Junius and Albert were propaganda writers that every once in a while would sneak in some facts. When you read their material the only thing I take at face value (most of the time) is that they were at the location they said they were at on the day they said they were - beyond that you must take everything with a grain of salt.
Also the book is incomplete on setting the stage for the events. I think the author does a decent job of trying to work in some facts so you can place the events in perspective, but the authors main job is to move the story along and stopping it to explain what something happen might have slowed everything down.
For example one of the reasons that the southern prisons were in such bad shape was that in some locations there were inadequate food supplies - the author notes this but I'm not sure that point really comes across. While the south actually had more than enough food as a whole, the problem was the complete destruction of the transportation system in the south which left parts of the south with an overabundance of food and materials while other parts were legitimately starving. The second point that is underplayed in this book was Lincoln's desire to end the war was quickly as possible - and part of that was taking advantage of the manpower superiority that the north had over the south. Lincoln didn't want to resume the prisoner exchanges because while the north could easily handle the loss of troops he knew the south could not. By leaving huge number of troops as POWs in the south, the south had to use resources to care for them and guard them, in addition to all the southern troops that the north held as POWs, which further weakened the south. Some say this is heartless, but the idea was that overall the loss of life would be lower if the war ended sooner.
So with all that said I still rate the book 4-stars because it's a good and interesting read. The Adventures in the Confederacy is a good title since it is an adventure and it's written in an easy to read mostly lighthearted fashion. Again you have to do your best to try to figure out what is legit and what isn't, but still it provides a different point of view to events so there is something to be taken from that.
The reader of this book does a very good and I would probably be more like a 4.5.
I've read a ton of WWII books and now I've become interested in seeing the events from the opposing point of view, not in a 'hate America' way or a 'we're all bad' way, but just to see how people, soldiers and individuals lived on a day to day basis and how they saw events unravel. So with that said I found this book and gave it a listen and I must say it's excellent. The summary tells you everything you need to know so I won't bother to add to it, but this is certainly something I'll go back and listen to again at some point in the future.
The reader does a very good job - but I could have done without the German accent he puts on. I'm not sure if it adds to it or not and eventually I got used to it, but without the accent it would have been easier to understand. Don't get me wrong, it's very well done and it might have added something to the book, but I personally would have preferred no accent (and it's a put-on accent, you can hear other examples done by the reader without it). Again this is a minor issue, but the reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.
Overall this is a 5 star book which is a good thing since there is a very limited selection of books like this available on Audible. Certainly if the subject matter at all sounds interesting to you, buy it.
If you're at all interested in the subject I highly recommend the book, it's really that simple.
This book is a great look into what was happening at Sega during the time that Genesis became the #1 console in the US - but that didn't happen right away, it took a few years. When I was a kid I read all the video game magazines and have a very clear memeber of what happened and when, but I still learned a ton from reading this book. For example I had no idea that Sega of America was so close to collapse in those early days. For me and my friends we all thought Sega was a mainstay, equal with Nintendo. However this book presents the story in a very different perspective.
The book is a great listen, although it's long it moves at a good pace. Also the reader does a great job.
Positives: Presents mostly the Sega side of the console war, shows how they came into power and the mistakes that cost it when they moved to the 32bit generation. Very entertaining and (mostly) a great history lesson. The writer is very talented in terms of being able to tell an interesting story, even if you didn't care about the subject you'd still probably enjoy the book due to the authors efforts.
Negatives: The timelines near the beginning of the book seem to not always align with how I remember things - lots of stuff happened in a short time and sometimes the author presents minor things out of order, but then revisits it later to clear it up. If you don't know any better this probably works well and keeps the story moving. There are also some minor issues with the games, for example at one point the author states at the time of sponsoring an LPGA event that Sega didn't have any golf games, but they did as Arnold Palmer Golf was a launch title on the unit. Also when talking about Mode 7 on the SNES the author says it was the first game to use that ability, again that is not correct, F-Zero, a launch title for the SNES was the first to use Mode 7. Minor issues, but I'm surprised in such a well researched book those got past the editors. Also while the reader does a great job overall sometimes his male voices sound quite feminine. I understand the idea of using different voices as it helps you know when the book is quoting someone and helps you keep track of who speaking and it's a minor issue, but there were times that I thought it was a woman speaking only to find out it was a man. Again, a minor issue.
One last negative. The author extensively "quotes" people in the book - however I have a very hard time believing most of these quotes are actual quotes and not just lines made-up to advance the story. While I'm sure the "quotes" are educated guesses based on interviews of the subjects there's just no way people would be able to clearly remember exactly what they said 20+ years ago on some many minor issues. Normally for history books I'd really ding any book that I felt was making up quotes, but here I think it's for the best since this isn't an in depth history book of a subject like a world war. Also since most, if not all, of the people in this book are very much alive, I'd assume the author did his due diligence and while the quotes may not be exact, I'd assume they're close enough.
Anyways note that I gave the book 5 stars overall so don't dwell on the negatives. This is a great, entertaining book and I highly recommend it.
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.
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