This book would have been much better had it suggested its premise rather than decreeing it. The first half of the book is biographical - summarising the lives and careers of a collection of self made billionaires. The author labels these businessmen "outsiders" as their upbringing had led them to be outsiders. Being a fellow outsider (without the billions of $$!!) I really connected with this part of the book and it was extremely interesting to compare my upbringing and career to the books outsiders. Unfortunately, the book's second half is hours of waffling where the author gives some rather shallow and unscientific presentations on psychology, sport and medical conditions like dyslexia. The second half of the book should be supplied with a free broom - for it is full of sweeping statements.
While Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" covers some similar ground positing what factors contribute to certain people's success, Gladwell mostly manages to remember he is being guided by anecdote, where this author frequently seems to make it up as he goes along - the most obvious example being his frequent references to dyslexia, which he never presents evidence for.
Its a shame, for this book makes quite a convincing case when the author sticks to telling the story of the lives of the Outsiders - but when he decides that these anecdotes are hard and fast evidence and not only that, but that they are a blueprint for success, that the book loses credibility.
If you're an outsider, read / listen to the first part - its quite interesting. Skip the second half.
If I were to summarise the premise of the book - its the old adage - Q: What's the definition of a nerd? A: The guy at school you used to tease who is now your boss.
Yes, it has some wonderful turns of phrase, engaging characters and manages to be quirky and heavy in equal measures.
Hans - he handles a hard life and challenging times with admirable dignity.
The narration is wonderful BUT, the audiobook has one very large flaw. In the written version of the book, the narrator (death) will sometimes talk in asides, which are written in italics. In the audiobook, these asides are whispered and buried in echo and are often impossible to hear or understand. How the producers let this happen is mystifying and it really disrupts the flow of the story.
1. When Death steps on the picture of Hitler.2. When Death describes how Rudi makes him cry.
I'm sure this book will polarise listeners / readers. If you have your life all together, then you will most likely thoroughly dislike this needy, self centred and often pathetic man, and hate the book. If however, you have you own special basket of issues you wrestle with on a daily basis, chances are you will warm to and be charmed by this needy, self centred and often pathetic man, and love the book.
I loved the book - its one of the best I've heard on audible. Laugh out loud funny in places.
Yes - but only those who like to get down and dirty with their morals!
I don't think you can go past St Gutfree and the opening story. Listen and squirm! The story about the anatomically detailed dolls runs a close second - I almost had to pull my car to the side of the road at certain parts of that story - its hard to drive, squirm and cringe at the same time!
The one thing I would add to this is that there are really no "likeable" characters in this book, and as a group they become despicable. Thats what makes it fun ;)
Narration was excellent - probably the best I've heard in an audiobook. Perfect.
I really enjoyed this book, and intend to go on a "Chuck-a-thon" over the next few months!
The title of this book is a little misleading - I was expecting a biography. More than three quarters of this book is devoted to an examination of his theories, and very little to Stephen Hawking the man. Obviously a reader is expecting some science if choosing this book, but the illness he has lived with throughout his life is relegated to playing just a bit part in this book. By the end of the book I knew less about the man than I did his theories.
I suspect that's just the way he would want it as well, but unfortunately the portrait painted of Stephen Hawking by this book is black and white rather than the colour his life of adversity, brilliance and quirkiness could have been.
The battle of wills between creator and his creation. Just like any fantasy you need to give the author permission to take you on a ride. This was surprisingly quite a strong story, even if the science behind its premise is dubious, particularly well over a century after its writing.
The "monster". I did not realise he was a creature of such humanity and need. The story was still in my thoughts a week or so after finishing it.
No. I was expecting a poor performance as it was priced lower than other versions of the book, but it was read very well and would definitely happily listen to the narrator again.
No, but I did get through it very quickly and was always grateful for a chance to get back in the car and renew the story.One exception - The beginning of the book is told in letters, and apart from perhaps the final 2 letters, the rest are completely irrelevant to the story, and why they were part of the published book is a mystery to me.
There are a couple of random instances where the narration repeats itself for a few words. Although its very minor and probably only totals maybe 15-20 seconds over the entire book, its the worst editing I've encountered on Audible. (That comment is not aimed at putting people off this version of the book - I definitely recommend this book).
Really the only thing I'd really known about Salman Rushdie prior to purchasing this book was of course that he was the author of the Satanic Verses. This book chronicles his life up until the time of the release of that novel, and through that time in detail.
As a listener, I found the third person narrative off putting at times - 1. there are instances where more than one person are being discussed, and you often realise that the "he" who the author is talking about is now the writer, where as ten seconds earlier, the "he" in question was someone else, and 2. the third person style can come across as pompous. I am sure the author had his reason for choosing this style, most likely because the events in this memoir are indeed important, and perhaps he wished to distance himself somewhat from their importance, in other words, an attempt at humility.
The narrator insists on inserting accents for all the other people in the book, and these accents all fall into cliche. In addition to this, he also adds accents when he is simply quoting people - one of the most ridiculous instances when he quotes lyrics from Michael Jackson's song "Black & White" in a hilariously bad American accent - I nearly crashed my car laughing.....
The story however rescues this audiobook from the off putting performance.
I found myself to have a rather schizophrenic reaction to Salman Rushdie's story as I listened. There were times I found myself wondering why sometimes he needs so many words to simply say it was morning, but other times where he charmed me as he faced a horribly unfair sentence on both his life and character.
This poor man suffered through a long barrage of mindless religious zealotry and sentences of condemnation on both his life and his character, and was used countless times as a political pawn, and had no option but to roll with the punches. The revelations he makes in this book describing the cowardly way his government, the publishing industry, some fellow writers, and of course the media are an indictment on our society's bizarre views on religious tolerance. On top of this, the poor man had to deal with an undoubtedly psychopathic wife during this time. This was no man sealed off in an ivory tower - he was a man with no control over where he lived, where he went and how he lived for a very long time.
The memoir seems fairly balanced - Salman Rushdie seems quite prepared to admit his shortcomings and mistakes, and he describes his crazy and manipulative wife with far more grace than she deserved. He takes plenty of pot shots at politicians, religious clerics and others whose behaviour was abominable, but you can't blame him, and I certainly felt like he used an admirable amount of restraint. I finished the book with admiration for him and a hope that he goes on to write without the need to look over his shoulder or second guess his motives.
This is a story that needed to be told. Unfortunately, religious fanaticism is still a powerful force in these time, as we all saw only 10 years ago in New York. Somewhere down the line, I have a feeling a similar story will sadly need to be told by some other poor unfortunate victim who inadvertently offends the barbaric and superstitious.
This audiobook will lead you on a tour of humanity that could make you despair. How people were so astonishingly stupid (stupid may sound harsh, but as the tale of the people's temple unfolds, it's really the only conclusion I could come to) to fall for Jim
Jones and his lunacy is something that is impossible to understand.
The constant warning signs of danger, from the church's early days through to it's at times farcical time in Guyana is an indictment of both individuals and governmental gullibility and inaction.
Jim Jones and his closest confidantes were indeed evil people, but the knowledge that his evil and madness were always self evident makes this story such a profound tragedy.
I am still trying to make sense of this tragedy, where people willingly put aside reason and common sense to literally follow this lunatic to their deaths. So stark is the evidence of their stupidity, that I can't even find sympathy for these people - only horror that so many of them were willing to firstly deprive their children of a normal upbringing and then to lead those innocent children to their deaths.
At the end, to hear the tales of some of the survivors lives after Jonestown only reinforces your despair - to see some of them survive only to continue to make dumb life decisions just leaves you shaking your head.
As you listen to this book you wonder just HOW so people can give their lives and souls to such a corrupt organisation and laughably silly "religion". You will hear how absolute power does indeed corrupt absolutely. The narration is excellent considering this is non-fiction - the narrator captures the emotions and desperation of some of the protagonists of the account very well.
Despite Scientology providing so ammunition for the author to attack with, the author does try credibly well to produce an balanced account - indeed some of the "pro" Scientology accounts are some of the most interesting parts of the book - where current Scientologists come across as deluded optimists. The scariest part of the book was in the final few pages when a current 2nd generation Scientologist declares they want to study law and be a judge. After listening to this book, you want no one from this religion in any kind of position of authority, let alone a judge!
So, God wants to send someone back to tell us all about the meaning of life...So he chooses someone who retells their story in monotone and sounds like a simpleton. Come on God, at least give us something to work with here! I'm very interested in this subject, but unfortunately this book lacks crediblity from the moment it begins. Beginning with the worst narration I've ever heard, this book is a disaster. By halfway through we're being told we choose our own method of death before we're born and that God chooses to have people killed by drunk drivers so that the drunk drivers then go to jail and cant kill anyone else.... God needs to employ a better PR company before sending anyone else back with the meaning of life!
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