The Time Machine
This is Larry Niven at his best. I think Niven wrote the story with H.G.Welles "The Time Machine" in mind. He took a leap into the far future, and made it completely real.
He hit all the right notes, and didn't overdo anything.
The author's fair and evenhanded treatment of our history. Johnson is an Englishman, and this makes his views more interesting of course -- irrational perhaps, but true. This is probably why Alexis de Tocqueville's study of America so fascinates.
Paul Johnson's "Modern Times" was a book I read some years ago, and the compulsive readability of that history reminds me of this book.
She is at all times clear and concise. She uses accents sparingly and to good effect. And her own British accent is both pleasing (silly isn't it, how we Americans LOVE British accents!) and appropriate, given that it reflects the author himself.
Yes, but not really practical, given how long this book is!
Some reviewers accuse the author of "bias". This is spurious, given that ANY history that is not just an utterly dry recitation of dates and events requires the author to make judgements and -- after offering evidence -- express opinions.
That said, I guess there is no denying that those who regard FDR and JFK to have been flawless demigods; angels in human form descended from heaven to bless our poor republic with their holy powers my have some slight difficulty with the judgements expressed in this book.
In addition, those who consider Richard Nixon to have been a demon in human shape, an enemy of all that is right and good and pure, may in a similar fashion take exception to Paul Johnson's view of things.
On the whole I found the book a wonderful breath of fresh, politically incorrect air. Johnson shows America "warts and all". The damned evil of slavery for instance -- that original sin that so twisted and tortured the first hundred years of our republic (and whose death agonies haunt us still, right up to this day) -- is dealt with unflinchingly, with no excuses entertained, but without hyperbole.
The history of the American Indians (and yes, Johnson calls them INDIANS throughout the book, with no apologies) is likewise treated. The author does not at any time excuse injustices done against this people (or rather plural: PEOPLES, a very important fact to understand) but neither does he engage in the condescending business of elevating them to the status of utterly wise and flawless citizens of the Earth, in tune with nature and without any human weakness. That attitude is nothing more than a modern version of "the noble savage".
In short, this book is thought-provoking and endlessly engaging. You do not have to agree with everything the author thinks to enjoy this book, and profit from it.
I have listened to it several times. Branagh seems to "get" this story, and brings it to life perfectly. Also, he does not allow Coppola's film "Apocalypse Now" to influence or overshadow this original.
In this performance the original text as written by Conrad has been "updated" to a small extent; that is to say, "politically correctified" to a certain degree.
Is this not clear? Then let me be blunt: they have replaced Conrad's unabashed use of "the N-word" with "native" and "negro" and such-like.
I would have much preferred that they not do this. They should have had the courage to let literature and history speak in its own voice. Nonetheless, the story survives this minor tampering.
This massive novel is a tour de force of first contact stories. The reader does it justice, using accents and inflections sparingly and when appropriate. I first read this book when I was in my teens, and I've read it several times since, but it never quite came alive for me the way it did with this reading. This 24-hour read actually felt too short to me. Highly recommended!
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