I listen to an average of 3 or more audible books per month and have done so for awhile. I usually don't bother to review books, but this one was so bad I was compelled to write a review. I have read other Bill Bryson books , At Home & his Shakespeare book, & enjoyed them, but this one is a dud. It is a collection of columns he wrote for a British newspaper in the 90's. The colums are dated and consist mostly of bashing Americans to amuse the Brits. I wouldn't mind the bashing if the columns were witty, but these are not. I realize Bryson has made his living as a "professional American" among the Brits, and these columns probably were his bread and butter in the UK, but this book just leaves a bad taste in my my mouth. In these columns Bryson panders to the Brits making sure to emphasize what unsophisticated rubes Americans are. Also, there is a little too much political correctness involved and all the preachy left wing drivel is at odds with the humor he is trying to invoke. I listened to the first part and part of the second, but couldn't finish the book. This is the first audible book I have ever abandoned. After listening to this twadle, my main thought was that our idea to separate ourselves from the British was THE BEST IDEA EVER. I know we have plenty of faults, but thank goodness we are independent.
I alternate my listening between fiction and non-fiction. For non-fiction listening I enjoy memoirs and autobiographies and this is one of the best I have heard. I enjoyed this book because of the combination of personal stories mixed with history. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this book although I do think there will some extra resonance for Jewish listeners in this book.
I read a lot of history and I had read a lot about the Lincoln assasination, but I still learned some new facts from this book. For those who don't usually read history books, I think this would be an enjoyable new type of reading. The events are laid out in a logical and very dramatic way-more like a story than the usual history book. My one objection is the narrator. O'Reilly should not read his own books. He should have a professional do the job. I know he is a TV personality, but being on TV and being able to read a book for an audience are not the same. Also, I have to agree with another reviewer who noted that O'Reilly doesn't say the word cavalry properly. O'Reilly says calvary when he means cavalry and after awhile it really gets annoying because the word cavalry comes up a lot. .
This book is not my usual type of book. When I purchased it, I thought it was a straight forward mystery. but I found it has a sci fi twist. I am not usually a sci fi reader, but the premise of this book was intriguing and kept me listening. Usually I am doing some type of light work while I am listening, housework, etc, but 14 was so interesting that at times I just stopped work and sat down to listen.
This was the first Bryce Courtenay book I have listened to, but it won't be the last.Courtenay really knows how to tell a story. Humphrey Bower's narration makes the book. Also as a personal preference I really like a longer book, more time to get to know the characters and feel lost in another world.
Even though I have read this before, listening is another dimension allowing one to really savor both the wit and the underlying sadness and cruelty of this classic American novel.
I enjoy all of the author's Matthew Scudder books, but found this early work a little dated and stiff. It was Ok, but not my most enjoyable listen.
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