As a period piece, this Dickens rendition of English history has some value, perhaps, and also provides a decent rundown of the English kings. But that is all it is. Dickens approaches history the way my junior high history teacher did, as though history were nothing but battles. Dickens says nothing about the age in which the king under discussion lived, the changes in the way the people lived, nothing about the changing technologies, indeed nothing about the people of England who created the history, except that they were pike fodder in the kings' wars. He very seldom even mentions dates, making it hard even for the knowledgeable person to keep track of the time period. He merely recites the battle after battle in which each king engaged, passes judgement on their characters, talks about how wonderful and brave the English are compared to the vile French, and generally writes like a man of the Victorian Age.
Fair enough, and as I said, a good period piece, but a very boring book.
Numbers are fascinating, and I was expecting to be fascinated by the author's intriguing revelations concerning the universe and how it unfolds mathematically. Instead, the book seems more like unconnected ramblings, a series of short stories about the author's life and some significant events in his life that are connected to his view of mathematical proportions. The author's dialect (speech impediment?) makes the book difficult to listen to. I found myself counting the number of consonants he cannot pronounce, instead of becoming fascinated with - counting. It could be that the book is much more interesting if read at one's own speed, and in one's own "head" voice, rather than listened to at the narrator's speed, and speech.
This book and its author have received so much press and air time over the last month that I wanted to read it if for no other reason than to see what all the noise was about. the subject fascinated me as well, because the church in which I was raised never taught anything about the historical background of the New Testament, and I was hoping that this book would fill in the blanks.
It did not disappoint. The story of the centuries-old conflict between the Romans and the Hebrews was new to me. Yes, I know about Egyptian slavery, but had no idea of Rome's governing principles concerning its conquered nations and how their treatment of the Jews differed. I had no idea of the religious and daily culture of the Jews and how they clashed with the Roman way of life. The background that Aslan provides helps to fill out the historical picture. I found it absolutely fascinating.
I have two criticisms. One is that I would have liked the book to be at least twice as long. I want more details, more background, more of this riveting picture of ancient life. And the other is that the book really should have been narrated by a professional reader. Aslan isn't bad, but he succumbs to the common problem of a single rhythm and intonation that becomes distracting. It wasn't bad, though - I still found the book fascinating.
As a reader of many biographies of American political figures, I found this one to be very disappointing, not so much for what it includes as for what it doesn't. The author does a good job of describing Wilson's actions, but I came away from the story with no real feel for the inner man and what motivated him. There was almost nothing included from Wilson's journals or private letters (could this scholar really have written so little?) and no interpretation on the author's part as to how various events in Wilson's life, or how his "inner man" influenced his actions. I kept recalling Jack Webb's famous line, "Just the facts, ma'am." But I look for more than that in a biography. I want the insight of McCullough, I suppose, and it was simply missing here. There is almost nothing about Wilson's childhood and virtually no details about his relationship with his parents or siblings. The death of Wilson's first wife, Ellen, was dispatched with in, if printed, must have been about two pages. The public's reaction to his second wife is still a mystery. This book needs more heft, more "personality." It was very dry.
That said, I have to say that the narrator did a fantastic job. If I'd been reading the book instead of listening, I would probably have not finished it. But the narrator was so easy to listen to that I stuck with it.
I'm not sorry I listened to it, because the availability of Wilson biographies through audible is pretty scarce. But I really would like more information than this book provides.
Probably not, only because once you know the story, the elements of suspense and surprise are missing, and they are close to the heart of the story, but I will definitely recommend this to all my friends.
The scenes of death during an air raid in London.
The very last one, because it was such a complete surprise to me. I expected the book to be finished after the scene before it. The fact that it wasn't takes the book's message in an entirely different direction, at the absolute last moment.
This book doesn't make you laugh or cry. It makes you stare off into space and wonder.
It is dark without being tragic.
I liked the detail - lots of information most people don't know about Steve Jobs personally.
I suspect I would have liked this a lot better, had it been read by someone else. The narrator is really bad. He sounds amateurish, has a sing-song lilt that becomes annoying quickly, and sounds like a practiced high school reader. It gave the book a feeling of being amateurishly written, and I don't think that's the case.
I was looking for insight into how the Obama administration manages its policies and how the insider politics and deal-making influences the results. the book does not disappoint and in fact presents a more objective view than I'd expected. I was anticipating a very pro-Obama, hero-worship. Instead, the book seems to be pretty straightforward about what is handled well and what is not.
"Obama's Wars," not for its tone but for its accurate detail of administration power plays, struggles, conflicts, and reasons behind actions.
His reading doesn't work on my nerves as much as it does other listeners, but the book would have gained by having a professional reader. Corn rushes words, mispronounces words ("stimulus" is always "stim-liss," for example), and is not as well modulated as a professional, which makes the book harder to listen to than it would be with a better reader.
It's a good book to read for background information before the upcoming presidential elections.
The only good thing about this latest book is that Roy Dotrice is back as the narrator. The audio version is 50 hours of reading, and nothing happens. Lots of snow falls, winds howl, lords insult each other, hosts wander back and forth, but none of the cliff hangers form the previous book is resolved, and none of the main characters accomplishes anything meaningful towards his/her goals. Main characters are killed, but - they're not dead - or maybe they are -? The quest for the iron throne has deteriorated into petty personal squabbles, and the book is mostly endless gratuitous gore and sex, and gory sex. In earlier books, the sex and gore served to define various characters. Now it does nothing but, I assume, satisfy the adolescents who are reading the series. One could truly skip this entire book and miss nothing. I believe that Martin has decided he can drag this story out into book sales that will last the rest of his life, a la Robert Jordan. I'm done with the series.
I really wanted to like this book, since it is a classic, and so widely taught, but I finally had to give up. It is an adventure story without a plot, a character study with too many digressions, and a study of the 19th Century perceptions of whale characteristics that is no longer relevant. The narrator did a superb job. My hat is off to him. But about ten hours into the book, I had to quit.
Thoreau writes a very nice natural and sociological account of Cape Cod of his time, and I would have given it 4 stars were it not for the narrator. The reading seemed very close to robotic in the first third of the book. I don't know if it improved slightly as the book went on, or I just got used to it. I do appreciate that the narrator speaks in a New England accent, and for all I know (not being familiar with it), this may be a very natural example of that regional way of speaking. For me, though, it could use Garrison Keillor's more homey and natural touch in describing commonplace things. It is, though, a very good book for anyone interested in the Cape way of life during this period, and of the natural history of the area.
I enjoyed this book, and it is very complete for those who, like me, enjoy reading about the history of how our present foods and diets came about. I don't think the book would hold the interest of someone with a more casual interest in the subject, however. The book can get a bit dry (no pun intended) and does include quite a lot of recipes that are of historical interest but not much use as modern-day recipes. Of greatest interest to me were the explanations of salt's economic importance from the Stone Age on, and also how the history of salt is so completely tied up with the history of fish in the human diet. It makes a good companion book to COD.
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