Got this for a holiday car trip, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It took a while to get used to the narrator (whom I am not convinced was the best choice), but it was as charming as the movie, and maybe even more so.
I have read many climbing books, including nearly everything in print written about Everest '96. Although the tragic Everest season of '96 is just a portion of this book about Viesturs' 'Endeavor 8000' (or whatever goofy name he gave it), the book seems to be less a narrative of the climbs and more of self-praise book about the man.
I found it especially odd how Viesturs continually inserts direct quotes and snippets from other climbers that gush praise over his climbing prowess. A lot of "Here's what so-and-so had to say about my superior guiding skills and incredible preparation... yadda, yadda". I especially had to laugh when Viesturs comments about leaving his pregnant wife for one of his Himalayan adventures, promising to check on her frequently by sat-phone. As his focus shifts to climbing, and he indicates his wife's displeasure over lack of communication via sat-phone, he writes it off saying, "Some people might have found (her) to be unreasonable, but I knew I had to focus on the mountain...".
He's generous in offering critique and criticism of others - from climbers to sponsors to family & friends, to the point of being obnoxious. Anyone who dares to question his decision-making or his tactics, he immediately trashes. I found it very hard to listen to at points.
I also found the narration to add to the tone of condescension - I don't think Stephen Hoye was the best choice for this one, as he seemed to add a note of whine to mix.
Bottom line: other climbing authors - from Krakauer to Boukreev, to virtually anybody else, frankly - offer better and more humble and respectful accounts of man vs. mountain. This was a turn-off. Even though I once was a Viesturs admirer,
I am no longer.
Excellent, excellent book. Well-researched content, riveting to listen to ... and it definitely has made me change my food habits, from what I choose and where I buy it. The first two main sections were most interesting to me - the story of the pervasiveness of corn and corn-derived products in the American diet (along with the reasons behind it), and also the unravelling of the organic movement. Whether you eat hamburgers and Twinkies, or are a raw-food gourmet, this book provides profound information about what shapes our eating habits. Required reading for anyone who eats!
This book was well-read, but I found the story to be long, drawn-out and rather boring most of the time. There were some rather genuine and fairly accurate details about Everest, and climbing, but it just never grabbed me. I found the woman, Finch, simply annoying, and her relationship with with expedition leader just not believable or convincing. It also seemed like the climax of the story came at the wrong, or at least too early -- ending third of the book was dull and predictable.
There are many more climbing books and stories that are much more interesting, but I did manage to listen this one out, which is why I gave it 3 stars.
If you are beginning to explore sitting meditation, this is an excellent audio guide and introduction. The guided practice is succinct and well-done, and I appreciated the commentary before and after. It is a nice progression - from breathing meditation and slightly beyond - easy to listen to and nicely explained. A friend had recommended the printed version of this book, but I found that having the audio guided practice much more appropriate than trying to read/remember/practice. Initially, the audio helps me to re-direct/return to focus. Highly recommended.
Allison Weir is one of the best historical fiction writers on the bookshelves, and this book is superb. The brief reign of the Lady Jane Grey is not often written about, and Ms. Weir does an extraordinary job capturing her life and the circumstances that made her such a tragic figure in the Tudor legacy. To enhance the storyline, the tale is told from the pov's of a number of different characters - from Lady Jane, to her mother, to the last of Henry's wives, Katherine Parr.
What makes this colorful and outstanding narrative come completely to life is the selection of excellent readers for each of the characters. They were cast perfectly. This multi-narrator treatment works extremely well to make it a "can't stop" listen ... And if you enjoy this style, as well as the time period/Tudor era, you will also like Philippa Gregory's 'The Boleyn Inheritance', which is narrated in similar manner.
Don't hesitate to get this book - you will not want it to end.
I think this has been one of my top 3 favorite listens. Gregory is THE best historical fiction author for the Tudor era ... she gives fabulous perspectives, compelling detail and nuance. Her masterful writing aside, this book was fabulously narrated. I think it was perfectly done having three narrators for the 3 women characters. Each of them did an outstanding job. I hated for this one to end.
I was particularly impressed by the narration/storyline of Anne of Cleves. She is so often glazed over in the accounts of Henry's wives, with little consideration about her life after her "de-thronement". Ms. Gregory presents such an interesting perspective on this Queen's ongoing life in England, post-Henry (as well as the turbulant family background from Cleves). I have come to believe she was much more cunning and savvy to the entire situation surrounding her betrothal/queenship/dethronement than is usually portrayed. I very much liked Gregory's insight into her character ... which was only enhanced by the sensitive reading by the wonderful narrator. It was my favorite thread of the book.
If you are interested in Tudor England, this is a great listen. If you are already familiar with Philippa Gregory, this one of her best!
This is one of the best listens in my 3+ years of audio-book listening. It is extremely well-read, has wonderful flow, and includes lots and lots of relative facts and detail which serve to enlighten the tale and not bog it down. The events and people are fascinating and inspiring, and the history is amazing -- sometimes hard to believe that it all actually occurred in the early 20th century, at a time when most of the country (lower 48) enjoyed modern luxuries and forms of transportation.
I found this book so fascinating, that I purchased the written volume also, and my young son and I read along/listened to the entire thing for a history lesson. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Alaska, sled dogs, or simply a fascinating event in American history.
This was the strangest listen I have had so far. The stories were quite captivating, but the narration was so pitiful that it felt like my brain was fighting with itself. How badly do I want to hear the rest, or do I just want to shut this guy up? My family made me turn it off about an hour into a car trip, laughing at his lackadaisical delivery of more than one dramatic moment (oh-no-the-dog-was-lying-dead-in-a-crumpled-heap-gosh). I listened to the remainder on headphones simply because the tales were interesting.
I will give it 3 stars for content - 0 for presentation. I think reading the printed book might be the best option. His descriptions and adventures are fascinating and well written, altough sometimes needlessly overly-dramatic. The sound bites (of people he interviewed) were generally a nice touch. I'm sorry to say I found his daughter's contributions somewhat trite and naive, and in the end I felt they didn't add anything worth saying.
If I were to recommend this book to anyone, I'd advise them to read the book rather than listen to this audio version.
This is the best audiobook I have purchased so far, hands down. I had always liked Michael Palin from his Python days, but this was a delightful new side to him. He conveys his great excitement and inquisitive nature in all circumstances of his travels. He is sensitive and humble, and genuinely enthralled with his surroundings. The trip's itinerary was beyond fascinating in itself - from Pakistan to the foot of Everest to Lhasa to Bhutan - his accounts of his experiences are culturally sensitive, exquisitely detailed, and perfectly read.
When I think of a Himalaya trek, Kathmandu and some of the more familiar places come to mind ... but in this book, he also takes you off the beaten path and into some remote and vastly interesting places, experiences and cultures. He reveals sides of Pakistan and other politically 'controversial' countries in very different and fascinating light and perspective. He is able to describe everything - the people, the activities, the lodging, the food, the mechanics of the trip - in fantastic detail. If you've ever longed travel to the Himalaya, this book may be as close to actually getting there without having to board a plane. I will definitely repeat this listen!
For me, the best chuckle of the tale came as Michael Palin met up with some other trekkers and a woman stopped him, realizing he looked familiar, and then exclaimed, "Yes .... that's Eric Idle!!!" Palin's response was delightful! (You'll have to listen!)
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