This book, and indeed this series, deeply explores the depths of two different neighborhoods of geekdom. You're going to need passing familiarity with one of them and fluency in the other to really enjoy the series. (It doesn't matter which one you're fluent in.) The first neighborhood is technology, especially programming. The second neighborhood is bureaucracy, especially business bureaucracy. If you work in an organization or industry has been bushwhacked by six Sigma or lean whatever-your-process-happens-to-be and other trendy efficiency systems that really should only apply manufacturing, you're going to think this is pretty funny. if you can also tell the difference between the different tech specs on a basic computer spec sheet without the row headers, and can distinguish between what the parts are (e.g. that's a graphic card that's the hard drive etc) based on the description, then you know enough to find this completely hilarious. Bonus laughs will be granted at various points for: Edward Tufte geeks, literature analysis geeks & Anglophiles.
Gideon Emery's performance is so perfect that you hardly notice that it's there because you're so immersed in the story. In fact, I enjoyed the first three books in this series so much that after I finished listening to the three of them back-to-back the first time, I immediately started the series over again. I knew I had missed some of the brilliant details on the first go around and it held up really well to relistening.
I've been listening to audiobooks at a clip of 70+ per year since 2000. This is the book I've listened to the most times through. While I normally buy Nelson Runger books to help me fall asleep more quickly, he's riveting in this, and David McCullough manages to keep a very long biography suspenseful throughout. (Even on the fifth listen through, when I knew very well what was coming,mI had a hard time turning the book off.) He paints John Adams with words so vividly that I found myself trying to anticipate what John would write to Abigail to describe the events unfolding. McCullough makes no apologies for Adam's views. Instead, he illustrates the cultural context and allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusions about his subject's internal contradiction. I think this is why I keep coming back to this book: other biographies of key revolutionary war figures tend to be a bit sycophantic, as if they just can't let go of the hindsight that many of the institutions established by the luminaries of this are still exist. In this book, there's room to trace both strengths and flaws in American governmental structure back to their beginnings.
I've just finished listening to this title for the second time; I loved The Amulet... the first time for its engrossing tale and wonderfully quirky characters, and the second for its sly wit and clever narration. Stroud has written a book that appeals to both my inner ten year old and the literary snob in me, and Simon Jones gives the book the narration it deserves. This is worth your listening time and your money.
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