Almost didn't finish this book. It's a genre work, but much less happens than in better works, the protagonist's character is wishy-washy and inconsistent, his love interest not credible.
The action sequences are weak, the suspense (Which Colonel is the bad guy?) insufficient and dully wrought.
The title is the best part.
"Snowman" is a much better work of the genre.
This work has everything. It's stories, two of which are novella-length, set in a small town with characters as real and interesting as you'll ever meet in fiction. It has heart, warmth, intimacy, action, social commentary, and it grabs you and doesn't let go until it's done with you. Gurganus reads undramatically, which fits the work, innately of keen dramatic interest, needing no more from a reader than a caring narration. The writing is simple, elegant, and in places, gorgeous. You get to know the characters so well you want to meet them and talk with them.
This work made me want to read his earlier work, and I'm asking audible to offer his big novel "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All."
This is the work of a dedicated officer and tells what it can about special operations at work in today's conflicts, especially dealing with Al Qaeda and similar elements.
The author narrates competently, and you get a feel for the man, a career officer starting with West Point and growing up on Army bases. He is a highly motivated officer, and that comes across in the book and his reading.
The standout aspect for me was the role of intelligence, especially two particulars. One was gathering intelligence while conducting an op, say at four in the afternoon. The team would collect intelligence (paper, computers, thumb drives, cell phones, etc,), get info from it, then launch another raid exploiting that info, do the same there, and make another raid the same day, all exploiting new intelligence harvested at each op.
The other standout was interrogation, the people involved, and the personal qualities that worked. McC agrees with McCain that torture is counterproductive.
A major limitation is that there's a lot that isn't told because it's classified. McC also goes out of his way not to criticize fellow officers. That's a weakness in that it's generally agreed that in the Brenner era in Iraq we didn't do very well because of poor leadership. When McC gives us one sentence on Sanchez, he doesn't do the subject justice.
I enjoyed this as a honest account of a career in a field I find interesting. Not all readers would, but for those of us interested in the subject, it's worthwhile.
My wife picked this audiobook, so it was in our library and I tried it. I've read Clancy's terrific early work and liked it tons. But I started this book, and I couldn't stay with the reader. He's soft and soothing, right for maybe something inspirational or a Victorian historical romance, but this is Clancy, and he's dead wrong for that.
Clancy's work deserves a reader who's right for war stories or thrillers, someone like the terrific reader who did Yellow Birds or the fine narration of Flynn's Last Man.
Hard to see how an audiobook producer could make such an error.
I haven't finished this book yet, but with an hour to go, think I have a handle on it. The essential story is Bart's — what he did in the war in Iraq and what it did to him. There's lots of physical description, and some of it adds to the story, and some Hemingwayish affectations with concatenated conjunctions that don't. The characters are thin, especially Murph, the best friend fated for a bad end, Sterling the jaded non-com trying to keep his troops alive. The officers (FD: I was one) were truly cartoonish, as were the mothers.
Seems to me that author Powers was trying to write a very interior novel. I don't know how well that works in a war story. It turns into a story of one man's angst set in a war/afterward. In war stories I find memorable, including Catch-22, Cacciato, and parts of Wind-up Bird Chronicle, the reader's able to live with the character, because they're more than a bundle of angst, they deal with other, more real characters in interesting, believable ways, and more happens.
Powers has promise, and his work is moving/lyrical by bits and pieces. This seems like early work, and makes me hope for bigger+better later on.
The reader is excellent.
It's been said that Puccini's operas are young adult fare. The same could be said for Vince Flynn's books, and they succeed in that way, some better than others. This one is OK, but it feels written in a hurry, without the effort of some of his earlier work. This one is not richly plotted, and the characters are thin. Hurley, many books ago, was genuinely interesting with lots of telling interplay with Rapp, but not here, where he's a cliche with lazy lines and anemic action.
Contrast the arc of Flynn's books — great when he started out and worked hard to hurried and anemic now — with Stieg Larsson's, which began terrific and stayed that way until he died too soon.
If you're interested in America in the 1920s and 1930s, journalism and criticism, and the life of an American original, there's a lot to like in this book. The chapters on Mencken's late-in-life marriage and on the end of his life where Manchester read to him are moving. There are bits and pieces of Mencken's own writing, but not enough, and for that, one needs to read elsewhere. Some of his work remains in print, as it should.
Manchester delivers a caring, careful bio. If you like the form, this is an excellent specimen.
Am glad I read it, but think I'd get more from Mencken's own work.
Haven't finished this long work yet, but love it so far. Previously read short pieces by Murakami in the New Yorker and liked them. This novel is richer, though it may not be for everyone. Murakami creates a different world where strange, sometimes mystical things happen. I'm able to get in there with him, and it's quite a ride, going places you haven't been to before as a reader or a human. It's also an interesting ride, if at times a little uncomfortable. As writing, I consider this a big, masterful work. The reader does very well with a tough job.
Complex, richly imagined war story with real characters, action, wrestling with the moral issues of the Vietnam war. O'Brien has read Heller, Voltaire, Bierce ("An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" ), and maybe Chaucer, but Cacciato is original work.
It's also one of those books that I believe is better heard than read, like Mrs. Dalloway.
Found this to be earlier work, not readable compared with Burke's mature work.Stopped reading after trying three stories and switched to Going After Cacciato, which is terrific. Liked a couple of Burke's more recent works, but can't read them too closely together or I fine a sameness in them.
Book and reader are just tops. It's hard to pick between well-developed characters you want to be with and action that surprises and keeps on surprising. Wife and I both had trouble taking breaks from listening.
The book is a translation from the Norwegian, and it's so well done that you don't notice.
It's now on our recommend-to-everybody list along with Cat's Table, Goon Squad, and Chronic City.
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