This is a well-written, superbly detailed and very engaging biography of Marie Antoinette. Unlike other reviewers, I thought the narrator did an excellent job, underscoring the drama adequately, provided nice characterizations of the historical figures, and pronounced the French and other foreign names on the whole rather well. It is true that her voice can be a bit harsh at times, but I didn't find it got in the way of enjoying the book.
This is a humorous and occasionally insightful spin on the gospels. It goes without saying that if you don't enjoy an atheist author riffing on biblical themes, spend your credits elsewhere. For those that do, Pullman rather nicely deals with some of the contradictions at the heart of the biblical stories. The performance by the author is lively - this is one of the few instances where an author reading his own work does rather well.
The first half of this book is a really interesting discussion of games and their psychology, what this reveals about the way we interact with our world, and a trenchant argument that at the very least, games are not the giant mind-suck you might think they are. However, the author gives a decidedly one-sided take - she's a game designer, not a social critic - and she barely addresses some of the thornier questions about games, such as their addictive nature, whether they alter attention spans, etc.
The second of the half of the book was not as good as the first half - it is more or less an extended description of the various projects the author has worked on. Not uninteresting, but not exactly worth a few hours of listening.
Also, the narration was certainly not bad, but personally, it sounded to me like a sophomore doing a research report. Not enough to not enjoy the book, but you might want to listen to the sample before you spend a credit.
Those minor points aside, If you have a significant other who spends serious time with Halo, if you have kids who are sucked into Club Penguin and you wonder why - this is a book well worth your time.
If you come to this book expecting a discussion of Stalin, how the information in the archives changed our understanding of him, and how he haunts modern Russian history, you will be very disappointed.
This book is, in essence a travelogue about one man's adventures in Russia in the early 90s and his negotiations with the archive director for publishing rights, sprinkled with a few novel insights discovered in the archives. As travelogue, it is only second-rate (the author doesn't speak Russian that well, apparently, and the anecdotes are somewhat stereotyped - I mean come on, do we really need another description of how flying Aeroflot was an unpleasant experience?). As a description of business negotiations - well, its just not that interesting.
That having been said, the writing is not bad and it is read admirable by the narrator.
While this is not a bad book, if you'd read a lot of history, you might find it a bit rudimentary. Dr. MacMillan is a very insightful historian and has a great breadth of knowledge, but this book is really more at the level of a popular lecture series than an original thesis.
I'd have to concur with the other reviewer that if you want to really understand how people in China perceive their situation, this is the best book out there. But be forewarned that although there is some adaptation for an American audience (mostly footnotes that I found disrupt the narrative), it was written for a domestic Chinese audience. If you know little of Chinese history and government, this book will be difficult to follow. Nonetheless, its incredibly rewarding.
Of all the books that have chronicled the credit crunch, this one is the best overall. As opposed to some other books, it focuses very little on personalities, and mostly on the problems in academic economics, finance, and policy that allowed trillions of dollars to vanish. Although the book is a model of clarity, it might be tough going for someone with no background in economics or finance. Nonetheless, if you really want to understand what happened, this is the best of the bunch!
This book is very thoroughly researched -- unlike many journalists who write about China, it is clear the author both speaks Chinese and has a good understanding of the culture and history. Furthermore, it is a very balanced account - neither demonizing Walmart, the Chinese government, nor factory owners, but provides a good understanding of how each part fits into the big picture. Personally, I found the level of detail just right and the anecdotes very revealing.
This book is fascinating, compelling, and frightening -- and also one of the few non-fiction books I found it hard to turn off when my commute was done. A lot of the material you've probably read or heard before, nonetheless, by assembling it all together and connecting everything to broader historical shifts, the author makes a persuasive case and a really eye-opening book.
Also, I think the narrator did a good job reading a book that doesn't naturally lend itself to an audio format.
Many of the musical illustrations appear to be either missing or cut out, making it a poor listen, and the history itself, while covering the major names with brief biographical detail and few technical terms, offers little depth or insight.
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