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.
Context first: I'm a proud at atheist; want to be a better person; had never listened to or read anything by Joel before.
With that out of the way, here are my reflections on this book. First and foremost, Joel does have a gift for communicating. The man's voice and delivery. Like butter. And his writing. He did not use a single "big" word in the entire book - not one, yet he still makes his point almost each and every time. It's makes the book so darn accessible and charming. So big props for that.
When I bought this book, I knew that there was going to be a lot of God going on (are we really supposed to capitalize God... is that his name... really?; or his he just a god... but I digress). And indeed, God and praising him and asking for his forgiveness is a big part of the book. But if you can prepare yourself to ignore all the God-stuff there are some interesting messages like how to have a better attitude, paying it forward, being a mentor, and having empathy. In fact, some of the chapters are very good. He makes a compelling argument regarding why it pays to be in the moment, or to be positive regardless of your circumstances. And for good measure, he throws in several tear jerker stories about situations he's encountered. These underline his points, though I'm not sure I believe all of them. Some seem a bit too perfect to be real, but I think it's also the case that Joel is a genuine guy, so maybe they're legit. You can be the judge.
So that's the good. Here's the but... so upon listening to his book and then doing my own additional reflection, it's clear to me that Joel is one hell of salesman. "If you just pray, if you just forgive, if you believe in the value of yourself... I mean if you really believe this stuff, you will achieve victory. And by victory, it could mean just about anything just as long as give thanks and heap praise on God and then yourself, you will reap all the rewards that life has to offer. You will achieve your true potential". Umm... actually, having a positive self-image, mindset and self-confidence is important, but addressing your addiction, depression, your debt, your marriage, getting a promotion, starting your own business, etcetera, etcetera takes among other things: hard work, motivation, goal setting, sacrifice, patience, more hard work, innate talent, and then throw in a bit of luck/fate or even call it divine intervention if you want and then maybe you'll lick whatever has got you down or you'll achieve your goal. But then only maybe. Life is challenge and many times it is not fair. It's not all rainbows, praise and victory. Joel and this book doesn't go out its way to acknowledge these hard facts.
So while I felt good while felt good listening to this book and felt that it did offer some important insights, I do think it sugar coats life. Achieving happiness seven days a week is certainly a mindset, but let's be honest "friends" (Joel's word not mine) having the success that the author suggests is available to you, me and everyone else, requires all of us to put some serious skin the game. As long as keep that reality tucked into your pocket while you listen to this book, it's probably worth your time.
Despite being written in the late 70's, this story is still very relevant. I mean what's changed since the 70's. The internet and yoga pants. The technologies and social-political issues remain the same but instead of referring to Vietnam, we refer to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The story is great. While I concede that the first third is a tad trying as it sets up characters for the final 2/3rds of apocalyptic-goodness, it's important investment. I loved the science and all the hypotheticals around what would happen if a massive asteroid hit the earth and really enjoyed the pace and atmosphere of the first few days following the strike. Pretty riveting stuff. And all throughout you're having a real debate with yourself regarding whether or not one particular act or decision is what you would have done to survive the end of the world. This is opposed to my usual status of gobsmacked as some idiot main character clearly makes the most stupid decision you've ever read in the history of (zombie apocalypse) literature. I mean ever.
IMO: This story is about 50 times as good as the glut of end of world zombie tripe that is out there right now (then why do you listen to it if it's so bad....don't ask). Granted it's a bit long, but on the whole, it's worth it.
Finally - props to the narrator. A very nice job. Does a good job selling different voices, including the female ones and gets the right tone and deliver throughout.
Didn't read the book, but what I can say is that the narrator was superb. As many others have indicated, his accents, the way he did female voices and overall pacing is the simply best I've heard.
That's tough. I've only read a few stories that are as epic as this one. While it's a different genre, I guess Lord of Rings might qualify due to is expansiveness, its rich character development, the writing (his use of English language is first class) and for its sheer ambition. Whether you're a history buff or have any interest in WW II this book really must be listened to. It is compelling in every way and I came out having learned more about this period of history than all my readings and learning combined. In everyway it's something special.
He was a perfect match for the book. He nailed all the accents. He did a great job across the board and unlike many narrators, he can portray female voices very well. But if I had to pick, he really hit a home run with the German SS officers, particularly when they were enraged. Gripping really.
I don't think you can listen to this book and not have a strong reaction to the Jews and how they were treated. Wouk does an incredible job of describing all of the sad and very maddening details. Like the allied populations, even now it seems unbelievable that a modern country could collectively enact this despicable program. It explains and informs many of today's world events. Very sad and terribly frustrating stuff.
I stumbled across this book. I'd never heard of it and hadn't heard of the author. Perhaps it's because I'm Gen X'er. I'm not an expert, but I feel this book deserves to discussed and talked about by my generation, those younger than me. It's a compelling and approachable story that touches on some truisms and realties that should never be forgotten. I guess its length would be part of the problem, but that aside, it really something more of us should be reading.
So I'm a certifiable Star Wars junkie. Not the worlds biggest fan but I've probably read about 40 or expanded SW novels over the years. Some are great, many are ok, some are downright atrocious. This is in the ok category.
What I liked:
- Really liked the dynamic between Obi Wan and Anakin. Miller actually does the best job I've read of the many authors who've tried to tackle this tandem. She gives the relationship depth that most other books lack.
- I really like how she portrayed the emotional disaster that is Anakin. This is a big criticism of the Clone Wars. While the TV show provides glimpses of Skywalker's psychology that leads him to the Dark Side, Miller does an excellent job of portraying this character's many emotional foibles that eventually lead to his fall. I see some people writing this is over done but I appreciated the opportunity of exploring his instability.
- This is one of the more gritty SW novels I've read. Kinda reflects the SW universe where Han shot first (if you're a fan you'll know what I mean)
What I didn't like:
- While the advantages of writing a story about Obi Wan and Anakin are obvious, it's also really tricky because there are so many other stories and SW cannon around these characters. Yoda and Bail Organa too. The author takes liberties and this results in much gnashing of teeth. You could have wrote this story with a couple of secondary characters and still had a fine story but not creating inconsistencies with the ample material that covers these two main characters.
- The overall story plodded along and was predicable. It definitely didn't hook me in.
- Why are all bad guys so stupid in SW (Thrawn excepted). Despite having an ultra secure facility, the Jedi basically have full run of the place. They crawl through several hundred meters of air vents - really! Air vents is gotta be the oldest trick in the book! But I guess if you think about it, this is exactly what Han and Luke did in the first movie on the Death Star, but I digress. Sigh... SW isn't perfect.
- The author relies way too much upon Anakin's technical skills; we know that he's handy with fixing things, but some of the situations he resolves with this skill verge on silly.
So in a nutshell, it was ok read. Certainly not the greatest SW novel I've read, but an better than average attempt that gets the Obi Wan-Anakin relationship done right.
BTW: the narrator was great. I think it's the gentleman from the Clone Wars. A nice touch!
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.
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