This book asks some very interesting questions and doesn't give easy answers. The form of the novel is interesting in that it reveals information in layers. Many of the characters hold secrets that are even kept from the reader until after events have already unfolded. I think that this adds an aspect to the work where readers may form opinions of characters only to find that they are mistaken, much like society is about things. I think that this novel tells an important story about not making assumptions about things based on their outward appearance and trying to think for oneself. It also helps that the novel is wonderfully narrated and is also a very entertaining read.
I think that there is a reason some novels of the early twentieth century are well known and still read by many such as the Grapes of Wrath or the Great Gatsby while others have left modern consciousness. I believe that one of the items that determines this is whether the story is a timeless one or one thoroughly imbedded in its time and place.
An American Tragedy firmly belongs in the later category. From the language of the novel to the general plot many of its elements will seem foreign to a modern audience. However, this is not to say that the novel is without merit. After adjusting myself to the language of the novel I found the story to be genuinely intriguing. It was interesting to see how teenagers and young adults behaved in much the same way in the early 20th century that they do now. Especially when your parents and grandparents can make it seem like they had none of the same impulses that modern teenagers have.
As long as you are willing to give the novel a chance and forgive some of the antiquated language, like repetition of gee this and gee that and references to haberdashers and dry goods stores then I think that you should give the novel a chance. You must give it until at least the half way point though as I found myself thinking that I should turn it off until this point.
I would also like to say that I think Dan John Miller does a very good job narrating the book.
Although some people may view this as a science fiction book there are really only two sections that deal with the future. The other sections deal with periods from the 1850s through the present day. What is remarkable about this book is that for a book that tells six stories each of the characters from the stories seems very fleshed out and fully developed. I also really liked the interconnectedness of the stories and I believe that if I were to listen to the book again I would figure out even more ways that each story is connected to the others.
Some people have said that they found it hard to figure out what was going on in this book because the stories are not told from beginning to end before the writer shifts to a different story. However, I didn't find this to be a problem for the most part. Although, I do have to admit that on the first jump which cuts off in mid sentence that I did rewind and play the section several times thinking that I was missing something. I decided to listen a little longer to the next chapter at which point the new character referred to how he had been reading the previous story in a book that he had found that cut off mid sentence. I guess that this particular problem wouldn't have happened if I had the book instead of the audiobook. Still other than that small problem I found that the multiple story lines were not hard to remember back to when they resumed later in the book. I also think that by intertwining the stories the author intends to show us how interconnected our lives are, without them being told in the way that they are I think the work would lose its meaning.
Another item that some people seem to have difficulty with in this novel is the multiple dialects/accents that the story is told in. The most difficult of these is the section told by Zachary in the distant future in which a made up dialect is used. I believe thought that after a small amount of time most people should be able to understand the section fairly easily. However, if you are a person that normally has difficulty understanding different accents English, Irish, or doesn't like more classical novels then this book may not be for you.
This is a great book that is hard to put down once you pick it up.
Throughout the book I thought that the descriptions of how events happened was wonderful however I never really found that I cared much for most of the characters. It seemed like the writer was trying so hard to make the place three dimensional that she forgot to make the characters this way as well.
The narration of the book was great and based on the outstanding imagery alone I would not try to dissuade anyone from reading the book. I would also say that for a debut work it seems like this book is a strong showing and I will be interested to see what else the author can do.
I would definitely listen to the book again. There are so many levels on which the book can be viewed. The story is so engaging. I think that the fact that much of it was based on the life of real people adds to the appeal of the book.
I won't give it away but the book has a terrifically interesting ending that will keep you guessing.
I particularly liked how he read the character of Lyman Ward, the main narrator of the story.
I found myself not wanting to stop in certain sections. However, it would be far too long of a book to finish all at once.
I really enjoyed how this book blended stories from both an American and Japanese perspective together to create more of a unified whole of the story. The book includes such vivid detail that it is hard not to feel like you can actually hear the screams, feel the wounds, and smell the smells. This is not a book for those that have weak stomachs. However, for anyone who thinks that war is glorious or a great adventure this book should be required reading. One thing that might be distressing to some is that the book paints a negative picture of Douglas MacArthur as both a coward and as a bad military commander.
This book really makes Lewis & Clark come alive as real people and show not only where they succeeded but their flaws as well. The narration of the book takes some time to get used to but after the first hour or two Mr. Whitner's reading style to not overly detract from the underlying material. He has a habit of emphasizing the same part of each sentence no matter where the emphasis should actually be placed.
I think it is hard for a person in our interconnected world to truly understand what it was like to go beyond where their were maps. This book helps to emphasize how truly cut of the expedition was and how close to failure it came, many times.
This book was one of my favorite audio books that I have purchased so far. I found the story to be very original and interesting. It is interesting to look at things that are so commonplace to us and think of how someone else would view them that had never had those experiences.
Some people have questioned the narration by the person acting as the child but I found it very good. It is supposed to be annoying at times since others in the book are being annoyed by him. Do yourself a favor and listen to the sample, this is how the book sounds throughout so if you don't like it you probably won't like the book.
I found it very hard to understand parts of the book. I think that this type of work is probably better either as a play or just in book form. Each character is introduced every-time they speak so effectively for large sections of the book you are mostly hearing, lady in blue, lady in green, and so on with little in-between. I did find the overall work to be very haunting and touching so I don't think that it is a problem with the general material, but rather the form. Possibly like one other reviewer suggested if a cast read the book instead of just one performer this would be effective if they just didn't say who they were each time they spoke. However, I think that this would make it impossible to remember who was who unless they were very distinctive.
I found this book entertaining to listen to but I don't believe it gets to the root causes of the financial disaster. I'm currently reading The Black Swan and I find this much more insightful about the fundamental causes of financial crisis. The author of this book wants to confine his discussion to how the quants models were broken but doesn't want to discuss how bankers, government officials, and everyone else was in some way responsible for the downturn. If you are looking for an entertaining look inside the world of hedge funds this would be a good place to start. However, if you are trying to find a book that gets to the causes of the financial crisis I would start somewhere else.
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