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Andrew Dunn

Vancouver, BC Canada | Member Since 2010

6
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 15 reviews
  • 52 ratings
  • 151 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
12

  • Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress - Pax Britannica, Volume 1

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Jan Morris
    • Narrated By Roy McMillan
    Overall
    (176)
    Performance
    (139)
    Story
    (138)

    The Pax Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris’s epic story of the British Empire from the accession of Queen Victoria to the death of Winston Churchill. It is a towering achievement: informative, accessible, entertaining and written with all her usual bravura. Heaven’s Command, the first volume, takes us from the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The story moves effortlessly across the world, from the English shores to Fiji, Zululand, the Canadian prairies and beyond.

    Cookie says: "Review for all three in the series"
    "A little outdated now, but enjoyable nonetheless"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up Heaven's Command in three words, what would they be?

    Witty, knowledgable, dated


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way Jan Morris manages to thematically describe the British Empire without it seeming as if she has shoe-horned events to fit her thesis, that the Empire changed, in purpose and intent, during the long reign of Victoria.


    What does Roy McMillan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He reads well. I quibble with some of the pronunciation (''Métis" is pronounced 'may-tee', not 'metiss'), but he does well with the text, including the copious footnotes.


    Any additional comments?

    The book was written in the 60s and early 70s, and the attitudes and language used perhaps reflects that, but Jan Morris was and is an expert writer, and her wit and wisdom make the occasional unreconstructed imperialist tone forgivable

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A History of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Andrew Marr
    • Narrated By Andrew Marr, David Timson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (87)
    Performance
    (77)
    Story
    (79)

    From the earliest civilizations to the 21st century: a global journey through human history, published alongside a landmark BBC One television series. Our understanding of world history is changing, as new discoveries are made on all the continents and old prejudices are being challenged. In this truly global journey, Andrew Marr revisits some of the traditional epic stories, from classical Greece and Rome to the rise of Napoleon, but surrounds them with less familiar material, from Peru to the Ukraine, China to the Caribbean.

    Tad Davis says: "Excellent introduction"
    "Is it 1875?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Reads like a Victorian-style history. The Big Man approach to history isn't especially interesting to me

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10228)
    Performance
    (9359)
    Story
    (9379)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Good, but with reservations"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The book was well read and mostly interesting. The character Boris was just annoying though, and Theo's motivation in not just handing over the painting wasn't clear to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • TransAtlantic: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Colum McCann
    • Narrated By Geraldine Hughes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (269)
    Performance
    (226)
    Story
    (231)

    In the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann thrilled readers with a marvelous high-wire act of fiction that The New York Times Book Review called "an emotional tour de force". Now McCann demonstrates once again why he is one of the most acclaimed and essential authors of his generation with a soaring novel that spans continents, leaps centuries, and unites a cast of deftly rendered characters, both real and imagined.

    Annie M. says: "Too breathtaking to read just once..."
    "Excellent book, well read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Really enjoyed this one - McCann expertly weaves the historical narratives together into a seamless saga that keeps the reader interested throughout.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Circle

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Dave Eggers
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1104)
    Performance
    (999)
    Story
    (1009)

    When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity.

    Darwin8u says: "A solid, just not great social network dystopia"
    "Trying a bit too hard"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed Zeitoun and A staggering Work, but this less so. He's trying a bit too hard, and the characters are a little 2-dimensional, especially the boyfriend who is meant to personify our need to *not* be connected 24/7. Eggers seems to be of the opinion that social media users are unthinking sheep who will give up any and all notions of privacy to garner likes and friends. I don;t think it's as simple as that, though for the purposes of a parable, maybe that's what he needed to do.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Two Degrees West

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Nicholas Crane
    • Narrated By Paul Shelley
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Nick Crane, author of Clear Waters Rising, set off in the summer of 1997 on a quest to discover what it means to be English. He walked the length of England along the English Meridian, a line running through the heart of England.

    Andrew Dunn says: "OCD?"
    "OCD?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A weird, quirky concept to walk down a line of longitude, and it makes for a pretty dull book. His dad sounds like the worst kind of pub bore too. I enjoyed his book about a walk across the mountains of Europe, but this was a disappointment

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Charles Emerson
    • Narrated By Kevin Stillwell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (38)

    Today, 1913 is inevitably viewed through the lens of 1914: as the last year before a war that would shatter the global economic order and tear Europe apart, undermining its global pre-eminence. Our perspectives narrowed by hindsight, the world of that year is reduced to its most frivolous features last summers in grand aristocratic residences or its most destructive ones: the unresolved rivalries of the great European powers, the fear of revolution, violence in the Balkans.

    GANESHi says: "Good book ruined by bad read"
    "Good book - moronic narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm heartened to see that pretty much every reviewer has pointed out how badly the reader mangles the least obscure of words, e.g. 'quay', which he renders as 'kway' instead of 'key'. How does somebody reach adulthood without a rudimentary understanding of how to pronounce pretty common words? And how does that person manage to carve out a career as an audiobook narrator?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Russia: A Journey to the Heart of a Land and Its People

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Jonathan Dimbleby
    • Narrated By Jonathan Dimbleby
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    In this timely and revealing portrait, distinguished author and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby crosses eight time zones and covers 10,000 miles, from Murmansk in the Arctic Circle to the Asian city of Vladivostok, in an attempt to get beneath the skin of modern Russia. Travelling by road, rail and boat, his epic journey takes him from the splendour of St Petersburg to remote parts of Siberia.

    Andrew Dunn says: "A Vanity Project?"
    "A Vanity Project?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm only partway through the audiobook, but so far, not-so-good...
    I like Jonathan Dimbleby on Radio 4, where he does a good job as debate moderator on Any Questions, but I'm less convinced by him as an author and narrator.

    Just a couple of examples of clumsy writing - he mentions 'circumnavigating' an aggressive dog to reach its owner's house. He's unable to discuss the Vikings without the obligatory references to rape and pillage. An old woman's stove is 'festooned' with pots and pans... Better editing might have helped to remove some of Dimbleby's stylistic excesses.

    He's obviously been told to bring some of his own personality and humanity to the proceedings, so we get some non-sequitur references to his boarding school days, his boating experiences in Devon and some hedged references to a possible history of depression. His own moods and emotional responses are jarring, and add little to the reader's appreciation of the places he's reporting from.

    Whereas WG Sebald, Jan Morris or Paul Theroux are able to evoke a place through its emotional impact on them, JD doesn't quite manage to pull this off, and ends up coming across as a bit of a whiner when he affects to tell us that he finds St Petersburg cold and somehow hollow at its core.

    Some of the dialog and interchanges with characters also fails to convince - early on he admits to having little to no Russian (which begs the question, could he not have made an effort to learn before embarking on such an undertaking?). At one point he's conversing with an archaeologist who is enthusing about the thrill of finding artefacts - I don't think this took place: archaeologists aren't treasure hunters, and the thrill comes from piecing together evidence of the past, not from isolated trinkets, themselves of limited explanatory value.

    All that said, I will persevere with the book, because I'm interested in life in the 'new' Russia, and Dimbleby has a journalist's eye for the underlying context, which is necessary and valuable to prevent the book from becoming a more straightforward travelogue.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Road to Valor: A True Story of World War II Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Aili McConnon, Andres McConnon
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    Based on nearly 10 years of research in Italy, France, and Israel, including interviews with Gino Bartali's family, former teammates, a Holocaust survivor Bartali saved, and many others, Road to Valor is the first book ever written about the Italian cycling legend in English and the only book written in any language to fully explore the scope of Bartali's wartime work. An epic tale of courage, comeback, and redemption, it is the untold story of one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century.

    fred says: "Uplifting story told with a different view point"
    "Thin material, but a well-paced 'read'"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'd heard about The Road to Valour in a few places, and was keen to find out about Gino Bartali, 1938 and 1948 Tour de France winner and Italian cycling legend.

    The book really covers two themes - Gino's cycling career and his work during WWII to help rescue Italian jews. The evidence for the latter is a bit patchy, not least because Bartali (who died in 2000) wouldn't talk about his wartime efforts, so the authors are sometimes struggling. It's much stronger on the cycling, and especially on Bartali's battles with Coppi (his arch rival) and with the Italian press, who continually write him off.

    All in all, an interesting book which illuminates the era and the eccentric figures who pedalled through it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By G. J. Meyer
    • Narrated By Robin Sachs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (676)
    Performance
    (610)
    Story
    (605)

    The First World War is one of history’s greatest tragedies. In this remarkable and intimate account, author G. J. Meyer draws on exhaustive research to bring to life the story of how the Great War reduced Europe’s mightiest empires to rubble, killed 20 million people, and cracked the foundations of the world we live in today. World War I is unique in the number of questions about it that remain unsettled. After more than 90 years, scholars remain divided on these questions, and it seems likely that they always will.

    Andrew Pilecki says: "Excellent Overview of the "Overshadowed" War"
    "Educational"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Like most people, I didn't really have a clear idea exactly *why* Europe went to war in August of 1914, and why it took 4 long years to arrive at a peace. I left Meyer's book with a much better understanding of the factors and personalities that led the world into the meat grinder of the Great War.

    The book is a bit too detailed in places, in terms of the military history and strategic wartime decision-making, and perhaps a bit light on the effects of war on the non-fighting people in the belligerent countries, but it's a minor quibble, and this is an excellent book.

    The reader can be a little dry-sounding and dull, but he generally does well with the material. there's a few obvious audio-patches where the tone of voice changes mid-sentence or mid-para, but nothing too jarring.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Timothy Snyder
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (362)
    Performance
    (240)
    Story
    (239)

    Americans think of World War II as “The Good War”, a moment when the forces of good resoundingly triumphed over evil. Yet the war was not decided by D-day. It was decided in the East, by the Red Army and Joseph Stalin. While conventional wisdom locates the horrors of World War II in the six million Jews killed in German concentration camps, the reality is even grimmer. In 13 years, the Nazi and Soviet regimes killed 13 million people in the lands between Germany and Russia.

    Joseph says: "Stuck between mad men"
    "Disturbingly brilliant"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read quite a lot about WWII and the Holocaust, but this book really bought home the scale of the industrial murder that took place between the Elbe and the Vistula and between 1933 and 1945. Snyder doesn't need to make trite comparisons between Stalinist and Hitlerian atrocities - he lets the crimes and the victims speak for themselves, and the result is a valuable and humane book that should be compulsory reading for our current crop of gung-ho intellectual pygmy leaders, keen to repeat the same mistakes in our supposedly more enlightened times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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