I bought this because William Gibson recommends it in "Zero History,:" and because I'ma fan of Hammond Innes's plot-driven adventure novels. This book has minimal plot. It's just an English gentleman trying to hide from the police in the countryside. I gave up halfway through the book.
I've listened to 1 hour 15 minutes of this audiobook. So far it's entirely about the useless "do" construction that English inherited from Celtic. This would be a interesting 5-minute topic but 75 minutes is too much.
I expected to learn more about the bombing of Dresden. I did, but I also learned the history of bombing, from two Italian pilots dropping grenades on Turks in 1909 to February 14, 1945. Aerial bombing was intended to save lives by making obsolete the massive armies of World War One. A few bombers would fly from a home base, destroy an enemy oil refinery, power station, or ball bearing factory, and return home safely. War with a minimum of casualties. What went wrong with this good intention is the story of this book.
Ben Fountain's short stories "Close Encounters with Che Guevara" was one of my favorite books. This is an experimental novel, with no plot, in a nondescript setting. There are no characters either. There's a movie producer who's a caricature of movie producers. Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old who was given a choice between prison or the army. Beyond that he has no backstory. No other character has a backstory. The soldiers on leave just eat pizza and drink beer and call each other gay. I gave up after 2.5 hours. The writing is good but it's not a novel.
I plowed through nearly four hours of this book before giving up. The main character, or characters if you count his grandmother, are autistic math geniuses. But there's nothing in their characters except lists of their mathematical accomplishments. They live through terrible times without being affected. If you're looking for character, plot, or inspired writing, look elsewhere.
This book presents all the facts, in the right order. But it's a dull read, compared to Farley Mowat's "Gray Seas Under." It's written from naval dispatches, not from interviews with people who were there, or their letters home (as Patrick O'Brian used). Obviously only three sailors survived the sinking of the Hood, and a few dozen survived the Bismarck.
I suffered through the first quarter of the audiobook and then stopped it. The characters are neurotic housewives. Neuroticism is their only dimension, i.e., they are one-dimensional characters. They lack even the second dimension of flat, cardboard characters.
There's no plot. After more than two hours I expect something to happen. Descriptions consist solely of brand names. Several characters work at Microsoft but there's no "ring of truth" suggesting that the author has any idea what it's like to work at Microsoft.
Most annoying is the writing style. It's a mixture of first person narrative (Bee) and e-mails that the adults write to each other. Each e-mail is pages long and reveal personal information one would never share with, for example, an outsourcing agency in India. The author apparently hasn't discovered Twitter or figured out that most people write short e-mails. The author is apparently trying to be funny but I didn't laugh at anything.
Horowitz's formula for "building a business" is to get hundreds of millions of dollars from venture capitalists, then take your the company public and get hundreds of millions more dollars. Then buy companies that have products you need. The author has lots of advice about laying off employees, firing executives, and giving bad news to investors. There's a good chapter about the importance of training your employees.
This book is not for startups. "The Lean Startup," by Eric Ries, is a better book for entrepreneurs. Horowitz's book is for executives managing large companies.
This is a book of longish stories. The first story is very good, well-written with interesting characters and plenty of plot twists. The second story is boring. The third story is awful, badly written with unlikeable characters and no plot. I gave up six hours into this fifteen-hour book.
I plowed through 35 minutes of this then gave up. The main character is a well-educated, middle-aged New York Jewish man who is going bald. All that happens is he talks to his smartphone and it misunderstands what he says. It's supposed to be funny but not the kind of funny where you laugh.
The first hour is about the author's mother, who expected to die at any moment, yet lived into her 90s. It wasn't interesting. We gave up after an hour.
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