I saw this title in a "top 100" list somewhere and thought I'd give it a run. I'm glad I did. Others have criticized the use of an intermediary in the story (the lawyer), and indeed the novel could have been written without him, it certainly doesn't detract from the story. It's just how the author chose to present it.
The novel is dated in it's perspective. If you are one of those who must layer modern thinking and conventions on top of works written years ago, you will likely be offended by some of the perspectives presented in this novel.
If you are mature enough to be able to realize that this story reflects how it was when written (and be glad you don't live in that period), then you should find this book very rewarding.
This a great non-European/American classic, which makes it rare in it's own right. The background at the beginning, which outlines the known historical facts that make up the framework of the story, enhances the work that follows. The narrator was a bit flat, and perhaps could have changed cadence more emphatically as the story required, but on the whole his narration was adequate.
While a great classic, on which many movies have been based, it is not a convoluted tale. It follows the line of Samurai master is ordered to commit suicide, and loyal followers eventually extract revenge. The more interesting aspect of the tale concerns the personalities and deceptions leading to the revenge attack. It also paints an interesting description of Japanese culture 300 years ago.
So, give this audio book a listen, especially if you are not familiar with the story through movies. You should find it worth your time.
Hopefully the title of review doesn’t put people off, as many things considered “Canadian” get passed over immediately. Living in the shadow of the US has it’s downside.
I had a hard time rating this book. I wanted to give the story 3 stars for the fact that it was predictable and without any real surprises and twists. The “surprise” in the story centres on the reason the hero signs up (to avoid jail) and the subsequent resolution of the one sided feud that resulted from the crime that lead him to the army.
Why I did give the story 4 stars was for the solid writing style and the unique topic covered. There aren’t a lot of fictional books out there covering WWI and Canada’s part in the War. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say this novel rose from a family research project the author was working on. The name of the hero is one syllable removed from the author, and much of the information on Canadian soldiers in WWI is easily researched. Enrolment and service records, as well as unit war diaries, are all available online now through Library Archive Canada. It is from this information that I believe the author shaped a novel.
In this regard, he did a good job. Lot’s of little details were included, such as equipment, as well as accurate portrayals of the class structure and societal attitudes of the period. There was one area, however, where I think the author applied current Canadian attitudes to the story, and that was fabricating the line that the only reason a white male Canadian of good societal standing would join is if he were forced to by the law. The other members of the book in the army were predominately English immigrants (this is historically accurate, as most English immigrants signed up for the “Motherland”), Métis, and other “undesirables” of the period. Of course, this reflects current Canadian attitudes as Canadians have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that the profession of arms can be an honourable calling.
So, in summary I do recommend this novel, especially if you are Canadian and even more so if you have an interest in WWI or had ancestors involved in that conflict. This book will assist in gaining a greater understanding of that period and the impact of the War in our country, all while providing a satisfactory background story as a vehicle for this information.
This book follows a platoon through the invasion of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a lead element of the Marines main thrust, this unit was heavily engaged for the duration of this short conflict.
While similar to many books on warfare in terms of describing the action, the hardships, and the horrors of war, where this story differs is in the mental state of the warriors. It is this revelation that is truly frightening and makes me wonder where the next generation of the USA is headed.
Soldiers of the 1st world war and earlier signed up for the romanticism associated war, and were quickly disillusioned. Soldiers in the 2nd world war signed up reluctantly but with a sense of duty, and soldiers of the Vietnam era went only when forced to. Todays society has Generation Kill, which is an apt name given the obvious relish with which these troops executed their mission and, more disturbingly, with the joy they took in wrecking havoc amongst the civilian population and infrastructure.
Don't get me wrong, I've been in the armed forces for almost 30 years, so I fully understand collateral damage, ROE, and the other myriad of issues that are associated with warfare in areas of civilian populations. What I couldn't understand about these troops was the uninhibited joy in causing destruction. In one example, they go into a school in a city that has been taken and destroy all the computers and infrastructure. Why would anyone do that?
What is also apparent from this story is that the Marines had some serious junior officer leadership challenges. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, given that this story was written 12 years ago, that the US Armed Forces are now struggling with some fairly serious internal breaches of conduct and behaviour amongst senior officers, as the junior officers and their peers in this book would be the senior officers of today.
This book is a must read for every American, as it provides great insight into the conduct of warfare in our age. Read it, and reflect upon it. It should give you cause for concern.
Summary up front: This was an awesome book that was well executed by the narrator! Get it before its made into a Hollywood blockbuster and ruined.
OK, now for some details. The premise of this book, man gets stranded on MARS, could have been a disaster if not executed properly. Kudos to the author for excellent background work and making the story as plausible as possible. If you really are a NASA engineer or a scientist in the fields used in the story, then I'm sure the scenario's and subsequent "fixes" would be too improbable for you to enjoy, but for the average layman like myself, it seemed real enough.
The narrator really enhanced this book. His cadence and inflections were spot on, and he really used the narrators ironic and sarcastic humour to maximum effect. The combination of narration and humorous dialogue had me laughing at times.
The one detraction was the shear number of mishaps that had to be overcome. It would have shortened the work a bit, but one or two of the catastrophes' that did occur could have been eliminated. A small quibble, I know, so don't let that keep you away.
I started this book with a the distinct advantage of never having seen the movie or knowing the story line. Perhaps this is why I was so pleasantly surprised.
Today we tend to look back half a century or more and think of ``Leave it to Beaver`` and other happy thoughts. This book shows the generation that produced this work could be as dark as any author today. This story is dark, and none of the characters could be described as likable.
That being said, it is a very interesting and well crafted story. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to end and was moderately surprised to see how it ended up for the "heroine", if that is what she can be called.
The narrator does an excellent job with cadence, tone, and voices. I'll be watching for more of his work.
In summary, if you haven't seen the movie or read the book, you simply must give this audio book a try.
It's not often that the follow on books in a series are as good as the first one, but Crouch has pulled it off. Although you could follow this story without reading the first in the series, I wouldn't recommend it. The interactions and background laid out in that work enhance the second. Also key is that they have kept the same narrator who did so well in the first book. Garcia nailed that one, and he does so again here.
I won't describe the book, other than to say it is "future horror", and in this second book, the true villainy of the protagonists come to the forefront. I can't wait to get the final book as the situation the hero is left in at the end of the second book is quite precarious.
So, if you haven't started this series, what are you waiting for?
I'll start the review by addressing the 2 star rating I gave for performance. Specifically, the narrator sounds inexperienced. He struggled with cadence, inflections, and in differentiating character voices. To top it off, the attempts to read the French lines were painful. All this was exacerbated by poor sound engineering and editing. The choppy starts and stops made edits very noticeable, especially as recording levels were not adjusted between passages recorded in different sessions.
OK, now that I got that out of the way, I can get to the important part, and that is the story. As with most of these stories written immediately after or even, like this one, during the conflict of WWI, you will notice they seem too poetic when judged by todays harsh standards of stark realism. Keeping the period in mind and how authors then were predisposed to paint conflict in a romantic and adventurous manner, one can overlook the prose and focus on the hidden gems contained within the text.
The description of how training was conducted in "penguins", which were aircraft with stubby wing that prohibited flight, is an example of the type of information your average historical account of the war overlooks. If you are interested in expanding your knowledge of WWI aviation, then this work should appeal to you.
If you've never read any other works of the mountain climbing genre, this work would be a good introduction. As with many of the works, much of the story revolves around the personalities and interpersonal relationships within the teams attempting these extreme challenges.
What makes this work interesting is the historical nature of the climb and makes for a good comparison of how far technology has come regarding forecasts, equipment, and communications. Much of what occurred in this story could likely be avoided or mitigated by todays technology.
Technology hasn't, however, changed human behaviour and group dynamics. What is described in this story would apply today from this perspective, and anyone considering an extreme challenge, from long distance ocean passages to mountaineering, would do well to read and study as many of these cases as possible.
I also liked the follow up work concerning the reactions of the relatives of those lost to the mountain. It makes a good reflection point, specifically about how families have a burning desire to blame others for the decisions and bad luck that killed their loved ones. I guess that's how we've ended up with the litigious society we have today.
The narrator did a great job with this story. His cadence and inflection was pleasing and enhanced the work.
Much has been written about Everest, K2, etc. but Denali is often overlooked. This book fills in this void quite nicely and gives the reader a lot to think upon.
This is a difficult book to review, as it had some downright clever and funny parts and some other areas that were either boring or downright stupid. It is for these last two points that I dropped my rating a bit.
To sum up the book, 2 stoner/loser type characters do some alien drugs and end up being able to cross dimensions and talk with ghosts and other unworldly creatures. That really sums up the novel. Throw in weird friends and occurrences that eventually lead to....? Well, I don't really know what it lead to.
Don’t get me wrong, the book was entertaining, but I think the author tried too hard to be funny and weird all at the same time. In the end, he missed the mark. The narrator was quite good and definitively made the story much more enjoyable than it really was.
Would I recommend this? Yes, but only after your “A-list” is depleted.
I picked this audio book up from a "daily deal" and I'm glad I didn't pay full price. I recognized the title from my youth, as it was a controversial book and quite popular back then, but I never got around to reading it. Perhaps if I had done so in my youth, I may have enjoyed it more.
With the benefit of age and experience, however, I can recognize it for what it is; a teen male fantasy. The writing is one dimensional, the situations staged, and the background of how all this came to be is woefully thin. The character is transported by aliens to a alternate earth where women a slinky slave things and, after immediately accepting his abduction, he becomes the best swordsman on the planet, saving sexy females along the way, and ultimately influences the fate of the world.
To top it off, the narrator, who I can see being better in a lest cartoonish role, destroyed the characters narratives. Every barbarian voice was done in the same angry and stilted voice, and delivered in an enhanced volume.
So, while I can recommend this to the adolescent crowd, avoid this if you are looking for something less blunt.
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