Nepean, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2013
First off I want to acknowledge a few very important things. What the author achieves over the course of his military career is nothing short of amazing. His dedication, perseverance and military skills are something to behold. I respect that. I also respect that he wrote down his experience. Writing is not easy and he did it pretty well. Another testament to this gentleman.
These things being said, I disliked this book. While on the one hand it will serve anyone who is looking to become a special forces soldier very well as they attempt to prep joining a particular service, I was saddened by the author's treatment of war. He glosses over the horrors that US soldiers and Iraqi civilians have had to endure. There are several exceptional books out there that speak to the futility of these wars and the impact it has had on individual soldiers and their families. Were you only to read this book you would be forced to conclude that war is relatively cost-free vis a vis humanity and resources. If I were a young man looking to join the military and I read this book, I would join convinced war is a less than costly endeavour where at the end of it I will be an unaffected and greatly improved human being. I don't believe this is the reality.
Perhaps my view of this book was tainted by the fact I listened to All Quiet on the Western Front just before reading Damn Few. The contrast between the two couldn't be any more different. Interestingly and to his credit, in the final chapter of the book the author provides some required reading for anyone who wants to better understand war. One of the books he provides is Matterhorn. I'm glad he does this as this book is an incredible testament to how terrible war can be.
Bottom line: this is a great book if you want to know what it takes to be a Navy Seal. He almost makes war sound fun - hence my War Porn title. However, it lacks depth and fails to acknowledge the broader impact of the Iraq and Afghan wars on both soldiers and civilians.
I'm not sure what I was expecting with this novel. It's been labelled a modern classic by many and to be sure it is a very good novel of a war veteran who tells a careful story of his experience in Vietnam and those of his friends. I guess I've read and heard so much about various experiences about this war - both before, during and after - that I felt this didn't offer me any deeper insight into what it was like to fight in this futile conflict.
I suspect when he wrote this in 1990 perhaps there weren't as many well articulated reflections on this experience and this stood above the rest in terms of its honesty and literary rawness. Or perhaps I'm just blind to the impact of Mr. O'Brien's novel. Or, it could be a generational thing or that I'm not American. Again, I'm not sure.
So in the end, it didn't resonate with me as much as I thought it would.
All that being said, the novel does have many powerful and almost unbelievable moments and Bryan Cranston does a superb job of narrating. He was in complete command of this story. He gave it more depth and heft in my opinion and definitely made a worthwhile listen.
I had not seen the movie and only knew a bit about Hunter S. Thompson, so my expectations re: the story and narrator were not set. And every so often, I'll pick up a classic story if only to try and give myself a modicum of coolness in the circles a run in ;-).
First the story. I had to look up Gozo Journalism half-way through the listen and am glad I did because it helped give important context to the book. While it's a story, it's also an article on the Mint 400 and a Law Enforcement conference in Vegas - seen through the eyes of a degenerate drug fiend and his equally deprived friend. In a way it's genius. It's reporting that tells of events while at the same time intertwining an interesting historical sub-culture of the US and this combination greatly enhances the story that the reporter is trying to put across. And what a sub-culture it is! I thought I was wild as a teenager and young man, but my achievements are but an anthill to Thompson's Everest. The drugs and shenanigans these two guys get into... And the drugs. Wow there's a lot of them.
For me however, it all became a bit too much. At some point it dawned on me that today there are Hunter S. Thompson's out there right now, acting like jackasses, ruining their lives and the lives of others without a care, only for their own personal gratification. We all run into them from time to time and it's not fun. I'm for having a great time, but I guess I felt it was all a bit too much and it turned me off. Perhaps that makes me old or maybe normal. I'm not sure which.
In any event, as a piece of journalism, I guess this was and is a pretty cool piece of work, but as book to enjoy, I struggled with it. To be clear there are some really funny parts, but the parts in between made me squeamish and eventually annoyed, so at the end of the day I gave a middle of the road review.
I did really like the narrator. I thought he nailed the two main characters.
Am really enjoying this series. Novik is an exceptional writer and develops many wonderful characters. Regarding this particular installment, there was lots of aerial action, new interesting characters were added in, there was a compelling storyline and I really like how she treated Captain Lawrence in the story. It deepened this character another degree, which serves to strengthen the overall series.
Everything about this series is very cool - the historical aspect, the intelligent dragons, the human characters, the storyline, the writing and the narration. It's top notch in everyway and this particular story was my fav thus far. Highly recommended.
So I'll qualify that I'm Canadian and in that regard, I've had the pleasure of reading Mr. Steyn a bit longer than most. What a treat he is - both his writing and his narration.
While I think he goes a bit far at times with his analysis (in particular his concerns re: Muslims), on many other matters he's bang on in my estimation and to that end the US, Europe and others are on a precipice. I won't get into his analysis other than to say he covers the main topics you would expect from someone who is commenting on the political situation in the US (though he mostly stays away from the abortion and gun issue). The US and Int economy, immigration, geopolitical politics, demographics are all covered and even if half of what he suggests is going to happen, happens, it's going to be a really tough go. People shouldn't say they weren't warned.
Outside of his interesting and provocative analyses, what makes Steyn so special is his sense of humour. He really is stand alone in this regard. Sharp analysis with an even sharper wit is a deadly combination. The pen is certainly mightier in this book.
The cherry on the cake is that Steyn himself narrates. Intentionally (I think) he uses what I guess is a cross between a British and Aussie accent and this makes the read downright hilarious at times. The narration is excellent I suspect because Steyn knows exactly how he wants his text delivered and he rolls through the book flawlessly. He so good at it, I wouldn't be surprised to see him narrate books that are not his.
In summary - a highly recommended, well narrated cutting political commentary regarding the end of the United States as a major power.
I'm not American so I watch and listen to the gun debate with shifting emotions of anger, futility, hilarity, and lots of sadness. Like health care, like the deficit, the gun debate is a reflection of the fact the US is broken. Rome is on a slow burn when a man walks into a school and kills 20+ kids and teachers and no one so much as shrugs.
To his credit, King uses his literary skills and fame to put forward a most reasonable compromise on the gun question. It's not overly unique, but it does warrant attention for its moderation vs the usual celebrity extremism that gets picked up in the media. And having never read (or listened) to a King novel, I can say that I was impressed by the "everyman" style he used for his writing. He drops the occasional F-bomb and there is some humour but as you would expect from the king of horror and suspense, he tries to get your attention with some pretty graphic descriptions. Mission accomplished, he gets your attention.
For any American reading this book and this review and who has any kind of opinion on the gun question, I say this little essay is worth your money. King's middle of the road approach has appeal and has utility in a politic that by all accounts is presently not well. Those of us in Canada and the rest of the world (sans the psychos, Marxists, jihadists, and eco-crazies) are pulling for you. This book offers a moderate approach to guns just as there are reasonable approaches on whole host of other issues. I sincerely hope you folks begin to get it figured out.
The narrator, Rommell was his normal excellent self. The guy does outrage better than anyone.
So there is no doubt that the gentleman who wrote this book is knowledgeable. He definitely knows his stuff. However, his proposal, even if you were to implement only 20% is not affordable, nor practical for about 97% of the population in North America. I guess that's the point though. In the world this guy creates in this book and his fictional novels, that's who survives at the end of the day - a small fraction of the continent.
For the rest of us, there are nuggets in this book that may be useful to you. I bought it on sale so it was worth a listen. As long as you keep in mind that the vast majority of the book is prepping overkill and that the likelihood of the end of the world is minuscule, it's not a complete waste of time.
If however, you are into living 100km away from the closest urban centre, like the idea of living in a bunker with few windows, hoarding years of food, owning about 15 different guns and thousands of rounds and just being an all round weirdo/recluse and you've got about $500,000 in the bank just waiting for you to burn through it on the off chance the end of the world happens - hey, this book is for you.
For the rest of us, practice good common sense and you'll probably "survive" almost anything the world throws at you. Heck, my great grandparents and grandparents survived the great depression and the scourge of fascism and imperialism and they came out of it just fine. Just saying.
I'll be brief. This is your standard Zombie Apocalypse. If your into the genre, it's all predictable and to the author's credit he does make some efforts to make his nightmare different from the rest. I enjoyed his writing style and he had a pretty good grasp on the technical stuff that goes with being a survivalist.
But and there's a pretty big but.... the main protagonist is insufferable. He's a special forces guy who's been trained for the end of the world. Within the first 100 pages, he establishes himself as perhaps the stupidest public servant. Ever. Decision after decision is a head slapper and this in effect ruins the book. Because this is a series, I couldn't see myself bearing the main character's jackassery for more than one volume. The dude gives the Army Rangers a bad name.
In any event, if you can look past Ranger Rick and his stupidity, then the story is a decent one. Perhaps in future volumes he'll get wise. I won't get to find out.
I don't write a lot of reviews but I felt compelled on this one because I love space operas and this book has received so many good reviews. I understand this is Currie's first book. If this is the case he deserves credit. It's not a bad yarn and the world he's set up has potential, but this first novel was held back for many reasons:
- The total lack of charisma of his main character, his first officer and several other secondary characters. The author made the relationships across the entire book stilted, wooden and quite frankly unbelievable.
- The choices the captain of the book were questionable. You're flying humanities only first and only interstellar spaceship and you threw caution into the wind, not once but several times for this flimsiest of reasons. In real life this guy would have been screened out of the NASA selection process on the first round. He's a real James T Kirk vs Jean Luc.
- With all due respect, I found the whole premise of our civilization showing up at key moment in another alien culture's 8000 year history (which includes interstellar travel) and we save the day, as hubristic. Yeah, North American's save the day again. In space. I get it that we are the warrior culture and they are peace loving, but I found the whole scenario a bit maddening.
- I was gobsmacked by the lack of imagination, explanation and the seeming similarity between North American culture and the human/alien culture in the book. The author made little effort to try and sell what should be a completely different society. Yes the technologies were different and they have a different language, but this was sold way short.
- I did not like the narrator. You had several hyper masculine characters in play and his main voice did not seem to fit. His accents for the alien race were lackluster, but he did do female voices quite well. That's not always the case.
I'm going to give the second book a chance. Despite its flaws, the world and story does have potential and I'm hoping the author will take more time to explore the personalities of his characters and the challenges they are confronting. Will keep my fingers crossed.
...but it's solutions are just a touch grand.
I found the future scientific and technical elements of the book to be very interesting. The future will be very cool and I believe that despite man's best efforts to destroy our planet in record time, that we'll develop the technology to survive well into the future. However, I found many of the prescriptions to be over stated. Prescribing the future of how we'll solve the world's food and water crisis is like predicting the stock market. 95% of people get it wrong - really badly. I appreciate the effort that the authors made but I found their suggestions of how to resolve the planet's issues unrealistic and just a tad elitist. But that's probably just me.
I got this title on sale so it was totally worth it. Unless you're really keen on how to save the world, you're better off on investing your hard earned credit on another one of your guilty pleasures.
This review will cover both novels. They are epic! The sheer size of these things is itself a huge achievement. That the author is able to interweave several stories and bring it to a satisfying conclusion at the end is equally tremendous.
The story is top notch and the characters and the worlds that are described are fulsome and real. The only flaw is that there is some meandering at times, but these are bearable. Just requires you to be a bit patient. Don't worry it's worth it.
I loved the sci fi elements. These were well conceived. The future could look like what is being described. Unlike Star Wars, which is pure fantasy, the ideas in this book seem more "real". So that really appealed to me.
Loved the bad guy alien race too. The author didn't leave you guessing about their motivations, which I appreciated.
All in all, a fantastic listen. Well worth a credit for anyone who likes this genre. The narration is superb as well. The gentleman who reads this monster is a real pro!
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