Beautifully written and exquisitely narrated, this book is captivating. Though the story is not uplifting, the characters are real and their plight is familiar nearly 50 years after the story was written. While it would be easy for the listener to judge the Wheelers and the Campbells harshly, to do so would be to fall into the same trap that captured them.
As I write this review in the fall of 2009, I am struck by the relevance of what happened 90 years ago to the swine flu pandemic of today. I learned from this book that the H1N1 virus that is threatening us today is the same virus from the Spanish flu back then (the author also explains how the Spanish flu got its name). The relevance of this book may be diminished by next spring, should the swine flu pandemic this winter turn out to be a false alarm. But listening to this book will hopefully help prepare the reader in taking precautions to prevent infection. Medicine has made huge advances since the Great Influenza. Whether those advances can prevent humans suffering a repeat of the tragedies of 1918 remains to be seen.
The book is quite lengthy, so if you have minimal patience and want to skip over the background of medical history to get to the influenza outbreak, I suggest you skip ahead to the 2nd part of the audio book. While you will be missing some interesting historical information, such information is not vital to the understanding of the influenza outbreak. The most important part of the book is how deadly the H1N1 virus is and what steps should be taken to prevent its spread. This information could be very important in the winter of 2009-2010.
The author writes a thorough, unbiased account of the 2006 ascent on Everest. For those who have read about the 1996 tragedies on Everest, you will be interested in how the 2006 year proved so deadly, even though there were no major weather obstacles to overcome. The author does a fine job of balancing the description of the climb, along with the background information of what goes into a climb, with the intense drama of human peril during the descent. As I listened to the book, I had many questions that the author addressed, including how to reduce the number of deaths on the mountain. But one question, that the author couldn't answer, is what I would do in that situation? Powerful moral questions are presented and, as much as you think you would do the "right thing," the author makes it clear that, in most cases, there is no one "right thing" that can be done. The ethical dilemmas are haunting for the reader and much more so for the actual climbers. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.
The narrator also does a superb job, including spot on accents. Between the author's writing style and the narrator's accents, I had no trouble keeping the long list of characters straight, which is sometimes a challenge for me with audiobooks.
I gave this book 5 stars not because I agree with everything in this book, but because this is such a relevant, thought provoking book that I cannot get out of my head. From having a father who worked in the oil business for most of his career, I already knew about the many uses for petrochemicals. And from living in Europe, I already knew the effects high priced gasoline (petrol) can have on society. But the author's analysis is fascinating, as are his predictions about what the future holds for the US. In Europe, where gas is much more expensive ($13/gallon at one point), diesel, manual, tiny cars with little power under the hood are the norm. The only sports cars are the very high end ones (Ferraris, Maseratis, etc.) and SUV's are too large to fit in parking spaces. My diesel Citroen gets 45 miles to the gallon, but is as speedy as a slug. We bring our own recyclable bags to the grocery (and other) stores to avoid getting charged for the plastic ones. Yet air fares are quite inexpensive, unlike what is predicted in this book. The author has a tendency to make the US seem like Pottersville from It's a Wonderful Life and judges harshly those who waste energy driving gas guzzlers. But insights, such as comparing the US's thirst for oil to an elderly smoker with emphysema who just won't quit, make you think about your own habits, purchases and ideals. I hope every government leader reads this book for the courage to make the tough decisions this country needs. I should also mention that the narrator does a splendid job with this book. Well worth the credit.
I thoroughly enjoyed this listen. The narrator was splendid and the author seemed to be a truly remarkable woman. Crazy Debbie may have quite a few flaws, but she is a brave, determined woman who is inspirational in taking on challenges few others would and not quitting, even in the face of extreme adversity. Yet, with her strength comes a vulnerability and insecurity, most obviously demonstrated through her marriages. While listening, I thought perhaps she fought so hard for the Afghani women because she related to them on more than one level. I really liked Debbie and wish I could meet her someday. She is truly an inspiration. Other books about strong women overcoming adversity you might enjoy: The House at Sugar Beach and The Help (Fiction).
I don't mind reading gore, but not at the expense of story. This book reminded me of Madonna, going for shock value without substance. The plot had so many holes, the story required leaps of faith I was unwilling to make. Try Beat the Reaper, a much better story in a similar genre.
This story grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go. This was one of my favorite Audible books and I have recommended it to friends, though I know it's not for everyone. You have to like dark, gory humor. Like Quentin Tarantino in style. The language and violence are graphic but necessary for the story. The pacing is fast and the characters are well-developed, so you quickly become deeply involved in the story. The story is short but so much happens in it that I didn't feel as if it was abbreviated. No matter how long the story was, I was bound to be disappointed when it was over. In spite of the fiction disclaimer at the end, the story is informative about many topics and I felt as if I learned about quite a few subjects as I was being entertained. The narrator is fantastic, reading at a fast pace but with clarity and intonation. I hope the author pens another soon and that Audible offers it. Too bad there isn't a wish list for authors to see!
The story is both suspenseful and beautifully crafted. The plot is familiar, having been borrowed from repeatedly since it was written, but still enjoyable. The story varies from the movies though you will recognize some scenes that have survived Hollywood re-writes. A worthwhile listen!
This story is enlightening and entertaining. Ms. Cooper's story is inspirational, perhaps more so told in her voice. I learned both about Liberian history and a woman who overcame incredible odds to be able to share her story with us. A beautiful author, narrator and person.
The author is an incredible man who survived under the most dire circumstances and graciously shares his experience with us. One of the most enjoyable listens I've had with Audible!
This book is the equivalent of an exciting roller coaster ride. With each chapter, Sigler leaves you at the top of a huge drop, leaving you breathless with the anticipation of what comes next. I thoroughly enjoyed Infected and Contagious does not disappoint. Sigler does a better job of both character development and narration with Contagious than he did with Infected. Make sure you listen to Infected first (another great listen), then hop on this thrill ride!
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