The Great Siege - Malta 1565 is an awesome book - well written. I had no idea of the leadership, courage and determination that the defenders displayed during siege. The ruthlessness of the combatants was a reflection of the understanding of both sides that this was an all or nothing endeavor. No quarter was given or expected. Before reading this I did not appreciate the ramifications of the outcome - Europe undoubtedly would look a lot different had the siege succeeded. Simon Vance is one of the Aces of the Audion Book narrators and he does a wonderful job in this book. If you enjoy European History I highly recommend this book
I read the first offering in this series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and thought it to be the best new detective series I had read in several years. The chemistry between the characters was top notch. This book, the Silkworm, is the second book in the series and was kind of a disappointment. I still like the main characters, the chemistry between them is in the same league as Mulder & Scully or Kirk & Spock, but the storyline on this one can best be described as being weak and farfetched. It had so many characters and potential suspects that it really didn’t lend itself well to an audio version in my opinion. The narration was again top notch, there just simply wasn’t a lot to work with and that is why it fell way short as compared to Cuckoos Calling. I would probably still recommend it to people that enjoyed the first one simply to keep up with the evolving interactions between Strike and Robin. I hope the next one is closer to the original.
The four hour work week by Timothy Ferriss is an extreme and somewhat inspiring book – lots of incredible ideas and a few that would seem to be unwise and very likely to get one fired. He obviously is a smart, motivated person that has an optimistic perspective and wants to live life to the fullest. One theme that resonated throughout his book was not putting life off, not waiting until you are too old to enjoy retirement to retire – in fact he recommends mini retirements throughout your life. He points out so many areas in the modern career that are very unproductive and unnecessary – I think that is essentially how he came up with the title of his book, by eliminating a lot of the routine and unproductive activities in a typical work week, there is not a lot left. Another takeaway was his separation of stuff from substance – focusing on experiences in lieu of toys and objects obtained just to associate a person with affluence. The parts of the book that I found to be the most challenging was when he would go into long discussions on website after website after website, and I figured those would be better suited for a regular book. I will probably re-listen to it again in the future.
The narration by Ray Porter was exceptional, I believe he is one of the best narrators in the business.
I wasn’t sure that I wanted to waste one of my credits on this novelization of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The middle of part I started to get a little dry, but the pace picked up very quickly in the second part. The second part has all of the elements of a good suspense novel. For a large portion of part 1 I didn’t really like any of the characters, but as the story progressed you could empathize with several of them. It kind of reminded me of Game of Thrones in that regard.
The narration was well done and I loved the afterward with the authors talking about the evolution of this timeless story and how the modern day renditions are probably quite different from the story that was probably used during Shakespeare’s time. I plan on trying one of their other novelizations. This one is worth the credit.
The Harry Bosch series is probably my favorite detective series and the Narrows may be the most enjoyable of the entire series. It has some very funny stuff, a really interesting story line that is suspenseful and fast paced and it has great chemistry among the characters. Len Cariou is the best of the Bosch narrators and he does an excellent job in this one. The character development and interaction is exceptionally well done. This one is so good that I have listened to it multiple times - if you are a Harry Bosch fan you will really enjoy this one, I would recommend listening to City of Bones, Lost Light and the Poet first to better understand the plot of the Narrows.
Empires of the Sea is an excellent book, well worth the credit. I found it to be interesting, informative and well written. I had no idea of the magnitude of the slave trade that was perpetuated by the Ottomans and the Barbary Corsairs from their raids of Italy and Spain. Entire populations on some islands and towns were captured and taken away into slavery. The book is actually very suspenseful as it goes into very detailed descriptions of people and soldiers undergoing a siege. The leadership of the defenders at Malta was another aspect that I found to be incredible.
I also found it interesting that the author suggests that economic impacts from gold and silver discoveries in the New World may have been one of the greatest factors in the decline of the Ottoman war machine.
Narration was top notch.
If you enjoy European history you will enjoy this book. I would also recommend the great siege by Ernie Bradford as a complementary book to this one
Prior to reading this book I had no idea that the Bronze Age seemingly ended so suddenly. The author presents a number of potential causes, although a strong case for an exact cause is still lacking. Only issue I had was I had hoped to learn more about the "sea peoples" that were referenced by he Egyptians and several other Mediterranean cultures. It is still uncertain who they were or where they came from. It was amazing to see not only the amount of trade that was taking place across the Mediterranean in the 13th Century BC, but also some of the correspondence between rulers and empires.
The Narration was decent, but not great.
I have enjoyed several offerings of the Great Courses Lectures on Historical events and this was one of the more interesting ones.
Professor Gallagher has done an excellent job in detailing all of these interesting leaders within Lee’s high command. I especially like the balance he utilizes in showing both the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals. With very few exceptions the assessments are even handed, although there are one or two officers that his take seems to be more of a personal like or dislike than one of looking simply at the facts. A few things in the book really stuck out – first was the incredible attrition rate of the officers in the Army of Northern Virginia due to deaths/wounding in battle. There were rarely back to back battles in which the same command structure was actually in place, other than Lee himself. There was a constant need to reshuffle leadership following the engagements. Another interesting analogy made by Professor Gallagher was his comparison of Lee’s role with that of Dwight Eisenhower, who also had to deal with strong, aggressive and competitive personalities of subordinates such as Patton and Montgomery, with Lee that role was even a greater necessity as a large number of his Senior Leaders seemed to stay in perpetual conflict with each other. On numerous occasions there were officers arresting other officers for what seemed to be more out of a competition than any real military error. Lastly, it was really amazing to see how successful many of the officers were at one level, then as they gained rank they become ineffectual or only marginally successful – the Peter Principle.
If you are interested in the make-up of the officers in the book then you will really find the book interesting. I will say though, if you are more interested in details of their actions taken in famous battles; this book may not be what you would be looking for. The Battles are only described in the most general of terms.
I was hoping to glean some ideas for organizing and uncluttering and this book delivered in a big way. Have already started applying some of the principles from the book and can see real value in so many of the ideas that he presents in the book. The length of the book was about right, it moved at a fairly fast pace and the narration was very enthusiastic. The book is very comprehensive – goes over everything from photos, cars, keys, gifts and a great deal more than just clutter.
I found this book to be implausible and predictable but somewhat entertaining. The Reacher character is really closer to a Superhero than a detective. I think if you are a fan of this series then you would not be disappointed in this one. The books in this series that I have read all seem to have somewhat preposterous story lines so if you prefer more realistic detective books then I wouldn't recommend using a credit on this one. This may be a case where watching the movie is the better alternative.
From the beginning of the Plantagenet Dynasty thru the end of the reign of Richard, the history of the Plantagenet’s is simply riveting. These leaders, though called Kings of England, were actually French Norman until well into the 14th Century. The marriage alliances, the intrigues, the betrayals, the pure brutality, the military campaigns, the plagues and ultimately the advances towards modern day governing all contribute to make this a fascinating book. The Kings and leaders were certainly not gentle people, yet many of actions they took played a significant role in how England, and ultimately Europe developed into what it is today. I guess I thought there was more National identity during these times than there actually seemed to be – the spheres of influence were in actuality more aligned with ruling families than nationalistic. Most of the coastal areas of modern day France were frequently under the rule of the Plantagenet Kings, until nearly the 15th century. Through each ensuing reign, you can see small advances in curbing the ultimate power of the Kings to the point of removing later Kings Edward II and Richard II. And while the Kings power was slowly being curtailed, the power of the legislative part of Government slowly grew – from the inception of the Magna Carta during King John’s reign until the removal of King Richard II. If you enjoy History of the middle Ages you will enjoy this book. Well worth the credit.
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