Kailua Kona, HI, United States | Member Since 2002
Once again I sing the praises of Simon Winchester. Here is a man who can tell a story! Now wait a minute -- this is NOT fiction. If you are looking for a novel, go elsewhere. This is the true, well-researched account of the most monumental disaster in recorded human history! It's the real thing! You can look in any encyclopedia and read about the eruption of Krakatau/Krakatoa, but Winchester gives you so much more! His research is astonishing and the way he explains it all in so much detail is wonderful!
I like the way he put this horrible event in perspective regarding world events of the time and how the Krakatoa calamity may have caused some of the tension in the world we are living in today.
I am not aware that the man is a geologist, but I know for certain he is a darn good writer. I love his reading style -- so properly British and all that... I am impressed by his ability to amass a lot of facts and work them into a fascinating narrative. History lesson? Why not! Keep them coming, Simon. I will read whatever you write and love every minute of it.
When I bought this book I surely thought it was going to be one of those satires, peppered with unusual factoids like Monty Python, et al. However, sadly it is not. The funniest part, coincidentally, is the beginning, where they explain how the editors would not let them print the original book, as it would be the first book in the world that could be seen from the moon...I laughed hard on that one and settled back for more of that nonsense. Well, perhaps I missed something.
This book talks about history, all right, but it has no continuity. We get Napoleon in the same breath as the Hittites, and the timeline jumps back and forth like a damn yoyo. It needs a major rewrite and a damn good editor, and perhaps someone should explain to the authors what makes people laugh.
I checked some of the other reviews of this book, and some thought it was pretty entertaining. What I want to know is, "What were THEY on when they listened to it?" Straight up, it's kind of lame. Occasionally during the rather bland narrative, there will be a little aside, like "The Minoans probably never guessed that would happen..." But that kind of stuff was just annoying.
History is a difficult subject to capture one's attention, but it can be done. "Lies My Teacher Told Me, Everything Your American History Book Got Wrong" is one. "All the Trouble in the World, the Lighter Side of Overpopulation, Famine, Plague and Poverty" is another.
This Mental Floss thing is not a joke, it's a disjointed combobulation of sentences are just strung along in no apparent order for no apparent reason. Now if you think THAT's funny, go ahead -- blow your brains out.
I have read the other reviewers of this book and am simply astonished that NO ONE has connected this tragic love story to the opera "Madame Butterfly" by Puccini. In my opinion, Lee Langley does a very fair job of translating the libretto to novel form. So, it's tragic. That's what most operas are, people. This is the standard operatic fare - seventh in the world for popularity.
First of all, the time setting is very true to the era. Imagine yourself as a young 15-year-old girl who must, because of the loss of prominence of her family, has been sold to a marriage broker. Here is a teenager, who has her secret hopes and dreams of marriage to a gaijin (foreigner). No one tells her that its all a sham, that she's really his live-in prostitute and has no plan to actually marry her. In truth, in the early 20th century, this scenario was played out over and over again as young innocent girls were sold as sex slaves to foreigners.
The gutless Pinkerton plays her along not caring how he is damaging her psyche, and treats her as if she has no feelings. But...this is the way things were in the early 20th century. Historically, women were chattel. Read this book and thank your lucky stars you are in the 21st century and this kind of abuse doesn't fly in civilized countries anymore.
The poor Cho-Cho is clueless, and what 15-year-old girl raised in a cloistered, upperclass family was not. Her classic Japanese upbringing turns out to be fatal, because she would rather die than cause her "husband" or his wife any grief. One reviewer complained that Pinkerton didn't have any character...well, that's absolutely correct. He was an unfeeling, selfish jerk who was a user and abuser. His American wife had more class than he did.
I feel sorry for those of you who did not "get" this story. Oh, poor you. It was too sad. Sorry about that, but Lee Langley courageously tells it like it was in Japan in those days. I know because I was there during the Occupation and I witnessed it.
The opera itself was a huge success not only for the pathos and tragedy but for the arias and costumes. Perhaps if you saw the story in this light it would be more interesting. I give this one five stars! Narration was spot on!
I am listening to this book again as I write this. I am so hooked on the way Ian Mortimer gives us, the time traveler, a look at Elizabethan England like we never realized it existed. It's amazing...and sometimes horrible, and makes me glad I'm alive today in the 21st century. We take flush toilets for granted -- I never will again.
And I found out that board games and other games for entertainment were against the law because the monarchy wanted them to practice archery. Women had NO rights at all, and Queen Elizabeth traveled in a stagecoach, along with a spare, and had a "convenience coach" in case she had to use the loo. Twenty was middle aged. Disease and plague were every day threats, and you should hear about the cures! The one using the goat's behind got me.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Seventeen hours was not enough. I had to listen to it again. Mike Grady is perfect as our guide through Elizabethan England. I hope there are more coming from this author. This was jaw-dropping fun. As my Southern relatives might say, "Y'all ain't gonna believe this sh....." Have fun with this one!
I can't even begin to tell you how poor the narrator is in this production. His wooden delivery definitely detracts from the story, however interesting it might be. I COULD NOT CONCENTRATE on the plot line because of the amateurish delivery of the narrator. Geez, I am 73 and can do a better job than that.
I often purchase books on sale because I listen voraciously, and don't often listen right away. This book has been on my "shelf" for some time, and I didn't feel I could return it readily so the only satisfaction I have for owning this book is to tell everyone how awful this is.
The reviewer who says that it was written for kids so adults should back off (and there were many who panned this book for the irritating narrator) probably doesn't care what his children listen to. Listening to a book can be magical for a child -- OMG, Jim Dale's narration of ANYTHING practically guarantees the book is priceless. This book might have had some potential, but I'm pretty sure the narrator, David Radtke, has demolished any books he has "talked".
I always hate to give a book such a bad rating, because the author probably deserves better. I might has stayed with it longer if a decent narrator was telling the story. Get the book in print if you are into this stuff -- the Audible version is horrible.
I bought this book largely based on the customer reviews that so ardently raved on and on about it. I had to have it. Now I realize that there must be a conspiracy of lunatics out there trying to make art out of garbage. I just don't get it.
In desperation, I finally went to Wikipedia to find out what the hell this book is about (after struggling through seven chapters). I could not believe what I heard. Basically it is the "stream of consciousness" running through a man's mind in the space of one day. Just rambling on and on, on and on. Wiki gives a great synopsis of the chapters, and I was totally surprised to find that there was a thread of thought to any of what I had experienced.
People have called it it best book of the 20th century? If I have to have a translation to understand the English language, it's definitely not for me. According to Wiki, Joyce said he would gain immortality just because literary professors would forever be arguing about what he meant in the book.
NOT entertaining! There is a Gutenberg Project of this book online and I skimmed over it to see if I could better understand it. It's a little better to READ it than to listen to it, but still--I don't find myself wanting to STUDY a book of 330,300 or so words to find out what the author is trying to say or the parallels to Homer's work. Leave this one to the pedantics. I had to put it down.
Hilarious fun, this book. I certainly did enjoy the premise, and I am NOT the demographic that Scott Meyer is going for. I am a 73-year-old geek - and a great grandma, but I have computer programming background from way back - say, 1982 and the Timex Sinclair 4K personal computer. (Upgradeable to 16K for $79.95 -- big money back then)
The story is very original, and I really did not have to "suspend belief" to get through the wacky story line. Great fun. But... Luke Daniels overdoes the narration to a point where I often got extricated from the plot thinking how dumb and out of character the voices were. Being jolted out of the story line because of the narrator's faux pas is unpleasant.
He starts off well enough. Martin's voice is definitely in character. The FBI guys sound like 45 IQ mobsters, a little too intimidating, but its a humorous piece. Philip is charming, and right in character -- I can believe that his British accent comes from the length of time he has spent in 12th century England.
I have to admire Luke Daniels for trying to give the various characters unique voices, but he forgot that all these "wizards" are actually geeks from the 20th century who have discovered a very interesting file and tampered with it. I do not think that Jimmy should sound like one of the Bowery Boys (for you youngsters, the Bowery Boys were a lowbrow street gang in the 1930s. Or, think Squiggie from "Laverne and Shirley".)
All the computer geeks that I have ever come in contact with have much more eloquence in their speech. Plus, Jimmy has been in England almost as long as Philip, and continues to talk like that? See, every time he talked I just shook my head sadly.
I am going find a copy this book and read it for myself. Sorry, Luke, but you have to pay attention to the details.
Okay, you will learn about five sentences of Japanese. They are: Excuse me? Do you understand English? No, I don't understand, Do you understand Japanese? Yes, a little. Are you American? Yes, I am American. This is NOT a whole lot of information. There are better courses out there..
Okay, I paid a buck for this and I can't say I'm sorry. The other Audible reviews agree with me that it's just not that great. But Amazon reviews say something a little different. They talk about PICTURES -- in COLOR. That probably made all the difference.
I have to say that I am not a sports fan, and a huge dose of sports "duh"s take up half the book. I don't remember hearing any comments about Tiger Woods' marriage either. Maybe I slept through that.
It took up a morning for me, and is better than watching today's daytime TV. So, if you can't get this audible version on sale, get the book in print. It'll have PICTURES!
I purchased this book according to the publisher's comments, and discovered it to be a horse of an entirely different color! This is NOT the poignant tale of some poor illiterate Irish lady who spends fifty years looking for her son! This is a novel (I cannot even be sure whether it is truth or fiction) about a gay man's rise in Washington politics during the Carter/Reagan administrations.
What can I say? It's like that line, "Where's the beef?" I am two hours away from the end of this story, and while the storyline itself is okay, my whole conception of this book is tainted by the fact that I WAS LIED TO by the publishers. I just wish that a more accurate synopsis of the piece were given in the first place. I would NOT have purchased this book as I don't care for political intrigue enough to spend fifteen hours listening to it.
I gather now, after reading other listener reviews of this book, that there is currently a movie in the works that tells the story from the mother's point of view. This makes me very suspicious of the publisher's motives in presenting the story as "apples" when in reality it is "oranges". If, after a twelve-year very satisfactory history with Audible, I now have to do a background check on every single book I contemplate purchasing, it is, indeed, a sad state of affairs.
The beginning of this book was sketchy--what did Sheri and the piano player's vignette or her affair with the umbrella guy have to do with the rest of the piece. I was completely thrown off by this side trip, and struggled to make sense of it throughout the rest of the nine hours. It wasn't made clear that a historical timeline of this woman's family was unveiling through the trip, and I did not figure that out until much later. I was glad when it was over, I am also glad it was on sale and I did not waste a credit on it.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.