This book really could have used the services of a professional narrator. I felt like McCullough was just droning on. His voice is so soft, and the tone so rarely changes, that I would often find myself nodding off while listening -- I nearly fell asleep at the wheel while listening to this book. I would advise that you listen to the sample audio before purchasing.
That said, McCullough is a fine historian, and there can be no doubting that he is a master of this period in American history. The monotone delivery is the only reason this book isn't getting 5 stars.
This book is a fascinating historical account of the boxing careers of Jim Braddock and Max Baer. In the movie, Baer is portrayed as a comic book villain, a la Mr. T in Rocky III. In the book, a far more complex character is revealed.
While the film was emotionally compelling, the book reads like a historical account. If you like sports and/or history, you will enjoy this book. If you're expecting to have a more in depth version of Ron Howard's film, you will be disappointed.
Grover Gardner's delivery was, as usual, above par.
In 1984, the concept of "Engsoc" (English Socialism) has taken over Oceania, resulting in the utter destruction of religion, morality and free choice. However, 1984 is more than just a warning against dictatorial Socialism - it serves as a warning to anyone who would trade his liberty and free choice in exchange for the promise of "security" (economic or military) from the government.
The narrator does an excellent job. There are some earlier reviews complaining that his voice is drab, dreary and monotone. This is true - his reading style entirely matched the depressing world of 1984. A good narrator must match the tone of the material he/she is reading.
This book most definitely lives up to its hype...
This is a great "Americana" story that will both inspire and entertain you. I continue to think about the various characters in this book; this is one title that I intend to listen to again, in order to catch what I may have missed during the first listen.
Since there have already been quite a few full blown reviews, I am limiting myself to a few comments:
Length: I did not think it too long. To the contrary, I found myself listening at every available opportunity. The book is long because it covers such a long period of time (50 years), not because the author is using filler material to fatten up his page count. If I have a criticism about the length, it is that there came a point towards the end of the book when something very big was revealed. I felt like the book should have ended then. This is mostly a stylistic judgment of mine, and it is the reason I am rating the book four stars instead of five.
Politics: The book is fairly merciless in its swipes at the Kennedys (Ted, John, Bobby) and Ronald Reagan. Reagan is portrayed as a hapless and bumbling figure (a common claim that has been discredited by the release of the thousands of handwritten letters and speeches showing Reagan's strong views on Cold War related matters.) Bobby Kennedy is portrayed as a souless hatchet man, while Ted is busy tossing girls in a pool while the fate of the free world is being discussed.
Profanity: As others have remarked, there is quite a bit of profanity in this book - but nothing approaching excessive profanity. This is a book about a bunch of gruff CIA agents. Gruff CIA agents swear.
I enjoyed listening to this book, and it was decent enough... but it mostly consists of re-telling Reagan stories that I've heard numerous times before. I enjoyed hearing them again for the nostalgia effect. The big 'twist' to this book is its attempt to spin every seminal event in Reagan's life as having come from the "hand of providence" (God). In some ways, I felt like I was being hit over the head by a 2x4, as the author refused to allow me (the reader) to draw my own conclusions. The author even says in the preface that she hopes that the book will serve as a "witnessing tool" to draw people to Jesus.
I'd say as a bottom line: if you're looking for a more scholarly review of Reagan's religious views and the impact his faith had on his life, read Paul Kengor's "God and Ronald Reagan." If you think the 1980s were the greatest decade of the 20th Century, and you can't possibly get enough of Ronald Reagan, and if you're not too uptight about proselytism, you should enjoy listening to this book.
This is a great story. Some of the technological wonders described in the book may seem a bit dated these days, but the sheer splendor of our protagonist's fantastic journey stands the test of time.
The narrator does an excellent job at pacing and changing the voices around - the scenes were flashing by in my head just as they would when I'm reading a good print book. He really brings Capt. Nemo to life.
The advice contained in this book is different than that found in more recent "self-help" books and seminars. Carnegie stresses the importance of genuine caring for others, and just being good human beings. Carnegie was clearly a spiritual man.
The more modern self-help gurus take on a more souless, selfish, and purely manipulative approach to getting what you want. That isn't what Carnegie is attempting to teach. Carnegie and his book are firm believers in the "win win" approach to dealing with others.
One final comment: students of history will delight in Carnegie's various references to important figures of his time, including T. Roosevelt, Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, etc.
Let's face it - a lousy narrator can turn even the best book into a painful listening experience.
In this case, narrator Michael Prichard turned an already good book into a pure listening delight. His deep Paul Harvey-like voice was an absolutely perfect fit for the subject matter of this book. He even made the parts of the book about the pure technical aspects of deep sea diving interesting.
I highly recommend this book - this is one purchase you won't regret.
Many have read this book, and have come away inspired to follow the path established by its author, P. Yogananda. Others have simply been left with a fascinating story about a man who came to America in 1920 with nothing, and by the time that he left his body, had met with the President of the United States and future governor of California and established a religious path which is still standing to this very day.
Regardless of the vantage point you may be coming from, this is a delightful read, and an excellent introduction to Eastern religious thought -- the way it had been originally taught -- before it was watered down by charlatans simply looking to cash in on the "latest fad."
The audio version is an absolute delight, and Ben Kingsley's reading is inspired. This is not a man "going through the motions" to collect a paycheck. Every single word is thoughtfully and smoothly enunciated, making this a pleasure to listen to. Thus, I would highly recommend this to even those who have already read the print version.
Finally, let me recommend the following: don't listen to this while jogging, driving in heavy traffic, or while otherwise distracted. Set some time aside and listen intently.
Report Inappropriate Content