This is a history that I should have known, but did not, and am glad that I had an opportunity to explore the history of the Belgian Congo and the forces that shaped many of the countries in Africa. The author focuses on the perceived need, within Europe countries, and King Leopold of Belgium, in particular, to have a foot hold on the African continent and to exploit the resources and peoples in Africa to his own personal advantage. The author makes the history more personal, more intimate, by focusing on the dynamics of King Leopold of Belgium and how his personal needs drove widespread exploitation and brutality in the area that became the Belgium Congo. The reader captures the history as if telling an engaging mystery that is unfolding with many characters with multiple over-lapping and conflicting agendas until the reader has to step back and realize the damage and destruction that is being done. The inhumanity of it all is at times overwhelming and yet it is a history that provides a more contemporary context for some of the conflicts in this region. Well-crafted historical work; well-read with clarity and engagement; a story worth knowing as one ponders developments in the region and the history of European involvement in the colonization and exploitation of Africa.
I must admit that I am tempted to order any audiobook in which John Lee is the narrator. I find his dramatic readings to be among the best of the audiobook performances. And, I was searching for a science fiction novel that was not a multi-book series. Pushing Ice met my criteria and I was intrigued by the vision of the ways in which intelligent life would search out other intelligent life (and the problems of having intelligent life occupy the same time frames as each other). The major conflict in the story was a bit over-played or drawn out for my tastes, but it served as a vehicle for exploring the challenges of human life dealing with radically different environments. I appreciated the seeming scientific accuracy and working within the possibilities of time and space and potential new technology. I became quite involved in the book and appreciated the effort to keep the book in one book (rather than continuing on into a series).
I had initially enjoyed this continuation of the Pendergast saga by providing more background on the earlier life of Pendergast; however, this story disappoints the reader by failing to indicate in the title that the story will be continued in the next book(s). It is one thing for an author (or authors) to carry an important character(s) from one book in a series to another, but I expect at least a complete story within a given book. This book was like reading a "chapter" or a "part" of a book, but failing to provide the resolution to the core theme of the book. I can get lost in the some of the absurdity of the various dilemmas, but only if my "leap of faith" is rewarded, at least in part, by some form of reasonable resolution. This book is all foreplay without satisfaction.
The reader, on the other hand, is excellent and brings the characters to life and captures some of the unusual nature of the characters through his voice and dramatic reading. I suspect that I may have gotten this book to hear these characters represented again in this reader's voice.
I think that the authors have given too little credit to the readers and too much credit to the profits to be made by readers who will purchase the next book in the series (or books) to find out what happened. If the book is a "serial", then it should be advertised in the title as a serial novel.
Penetrating history of the lands and peoples caught between the powers of Germany and the U.S.S.R. beginning with the pre-WWII context through WWII and into the post-war period. A mind-numbing in terms of the magnitude of the inhumanity and the destructive policies of starvation, death by bullet, death by work and death by death camp. The author traces the policies of Hitler and Stalin as they destroy, often repeatedly, the peoples and cultures of the lands in between their two countries and their expanding needs. The author adds a new perspective to the understanding of WWII and its impact in Eastern and Baltic Europe. The reader captures the historical detail and gathers momentum around the impact without giving way to extremes. This is an important piece of the history of WWII, well-told, well-read and worth understanding in our current world context.
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