Disturbing? Yes. Thought provoking? Yes. Ultimately optimistic? No.
If you want a run-of-the-mill novel, this book is not for you. If you want to listen to something interesting, gripping, unique, and beautifully written, please listen.
Simon Vance, as always, is a delight. His subtle accents, delicate changes in tone, and intelligence are on full display here. He is my favorite narrator by far.
This is a much better book than most historical novels. It seems to be fully researched and has finely drawn psychological portraits of many historical characters which casts them in a new more nuanced light.
This is an excellent biography of a difficult subject who still remains opaque when one tries to view him as a person. Perhaps that is the ultimate triumph of will.
I have only two slight complaints. The first is my own lack of judgment. I chose to listen to this book instead of the several volume work in the interest if economy. I regret that decision because this version does seem a bit truncated and I fear I missed some details I would have liked. Perhaps this will only be a problem for those who have read extensively in this era if history. I do urge people who love indulging in the details of history to listen to the other books.
The second is the narrarator who overall is excellent. He brutally mispronounces many German words. Naturally, being British, he does it with a savior faire that almost convinces one that he must be correct, but when he constantly says "Liebensraum" instead of "Lebensraum," my ears protest. Surely the producer of the audiobook should have noticed. This is not merely a mispronunciation but the substitution of one word for another and an entirely different concept!
I listened to this book quite a while ago, and loved it. I was surprised to see reviews complaining that there were too many unnecessary details. I felt this was a bit like saying there were too many notes in a symphony.
I liked the book because it was essentially the story about people I don't know and don't see in America. It was compelling because it is the story of a woman to converted to Islam on her on accord and then later met and married an Islamic man. These are people I would never meet except through a book like this. I didn't find the story of their lives at all boring. Perhaps it is because I am a woman. Women and families are as interesting to me as big events and crisis.
Then there is the horror of Katrina and Zeitoun's disappearance. I did not know things like this happened during Katrina. I did not know that American citizens could be subjected to this treatment. What was inspiring to me was Zeitoun's wife. Her love, her determination, her refusal to be passive inspired me.
This is a good book. It's on sale right now. Buy it!
I wonder if the Audible people even read these comments. First this Roy Dotrice whose narration was acceptable if not good in the first books, is chewing the scenery so much in this book that it???s difficult to hear the story. I had to turn the volume down sometimes because he was shouting so unpleasantly. His voice is rather rough when he speaks normally, and I think it makes it difficult for him to do a voice effectively for a young beautiful woman, but that???s no excuse for making these women sound like old harridans. Everyone else has commented on the horrible voices, and I agree with all they say.
I must add that I am not overly picky about narration. I can survive almost any narrator, but this was just too much. People who gave him two stars are being generous.
I absolutely agree that the book should be redone. There???s one segment of the story, and I can???t tell you what it was because I blocked it out the voice was so awful, but it???s some religious fellow who is preaching his religion. The book begins with this segment. I seriously could not follow any of it. And I???m a person who generally listens to non-fiction history and science. I???m used to following intricate material.
BUT ??? here???s the kicker. The fourth part of the book cut off at 2 hours, 33 minutes, and 9 seconds right in the middle of a sentence. It???s not even there. I tried downloading it again, and it still wasn???t there. I didn???t find this mentioned in any other review, so it is apparently a glitch in my version.
This is a romance in the Victorian style. The characters are rather stylized and in the case of the protagonist, idealized.
Nevertheless it is a sweet tale that drew me in and made me care about the two main characters. The goodness of the heroine might put off some listeners, but if you allow yourself to be pulled in and love her, the rest of the story will keep you in suspense and entertain you.
Unfortunately, the author chose to narrate the book. Her voice is nasal and annoying.
I will give the author credit for not making herself a heroine. She comes across as a very difficult person who behaves selfishly many times.
The book presents a skewed view on the exposure of Bernie Madoff. This author flatly says that the two sons exposed their father, but other accounts I have read of the affair have described the investigation differently.
One does develop a sympathy for Mark Madoff and the sad end to his life, but other than gaining insight into the what propelled him to take his own life, the book does not add much information to what is already known. Most everyone in it, including the author, appear to be rather shallow, mean, and materialistic.
This is a nearly incredible story of a young man who during WWII was caught up in the eerily irrational cruel world of the Stalin Gulag. The story tells of the terrible treatment of prisoners, and the tender heroism of those who helped the narrator escape. It???s a one of a kind memoir.
The Narrator adopts a very slight polish accent, but it does not intrude or distract from the reading of the book.
First, the book has a great deal of detail and is extremely informative. That is the good part. The bad part, for me at least, is that the book contains many mathematical formulas and all of them are read out loud. I'm not saying I could understand them even if I looked at them, but listening to them is incomprehensible to me. Also the author refers to drawings and points on the drawings have letters, so there is a great deal of "the lever at point 'h' is swung to 'l' " etc. It makes no sense without seeing the drawing. Also if you get the book, you must be prepared for a great deal of discussion about physics and mathematics. It's really more scientific history than just a biography. It's well done, but perhaps not a good choice for an audible book.
I don't have much to add to the excellent reviews already provided. I recommend the book because it will provide information not readily available elsewhere. The author reveals her biases early in the book. However she seems to provide both sides in a dispassionate manner. The book is more concerned with presenting the opinions of individuals than in presenting a "definitive" account of the conflicts it describes. I did not think the book dwelled on global warming in particular except to emphasize that the conflicts, which are more about the competition for resources than religion, are exacerbated by the climate changes that affect this area just north of the equator more than any other area. If you are interested in third world countries and Africa in particular, this is a stimulating and valuable book.
The author has deep roots in central Asia and a long history in working and reporting in Afghanistan. He uses this knowledge to provide a detailed description of the history and the social fabric of Afghanistan as a background for an understanding of the rise to power of the Taliban and the involvement of the surrounding countries as well as the United States and Russia.
This is not a book for those who only want a lurid depiction of the Taliban, but rather for those seeking an in depth understanding of the region and of the competing interests that have led to the current situation. It is fascinating, horrific, and riveting.
At first one might think that the book was written before 9/11, but it was published shortly after, however, it does not deal with Afghanistan as it now exists after 10 years of U.S. armed forces involvement. The book is relevant because it provides the underpinning for understanding the problems facing the country today. The author appears to be as unbiased as a human being can be. As for using the "transportation mafia" being undefined or unspecified, it seemed clear to me that it referred to the criminals transporting heroin, not simply the movement of trade through the country. In short, the book educated and informed me about the social, economic, political, and military history of the civil war.
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