I really enjoyed this book because I am fascinated with the subject of how viewpoint shapes the world for the viewer. This book seems tailor made for me.
The writing is engaging, and the narration is refreshingly excellent for books narrated by the author. I would give Horowitz five stars for narration, but sadly, Audible does not let me separate performance and production.
My only quibble is with the editor. Some sentences feature a long pause for no particular reason. Other gaps are rushed. Horowitz's rhythm is quite good, but I suspect the editor grew complacent and forgot that some pauses are not intentional (pausing for a drink, the pause before a punch in, etc) and left them in without really listening.
This was a wonderful book, and William Dufris is a very engaging narrator with excellent character voices. The problem is the editing. For example, most chapters begin without a sufficient pause from the previous chapter. The editor does not leave enough room for the listener to reflect on what was just said. This also leads me to wonder if the quality control is up to snuff, although this is hard to discern without reading along.
Pacing is the editor's art, and this editor nearly ruined a first-rate book read by a first-rate narrator. It's a shame I have to give the performance 2 stars since the narrator deserves 5. But until Audible makes production a separate star rating, this is what I must do.
I can't really comment on the quality of the book itself. I had to stop listening after a few hours in. Why?
First, the narrator reads the book as if he were a Shakespearean actor at a community playhouse, very hammy and very distracting.
Second, the audio editor did a terrible job with the pacing. Even the chapters are read with no break between the sentence before and after. Normally, there's a 4 second pause between chapters. Here, there is NO pause.
I'll give this book another try if a different team makes another production of it.
I thoroughly enjoyed Too Big to Fail, however, I felt the information-dense material could have used a slower pacing between important lines. The audio editor did not leave enough room between paragraphs to let the material sink in. I found myself rewinding this book to catch missed details moreso than any other I've listened to on Audible. The editor also left in so many breaths that they become a source of constant distraction. Half the number of breath noises and an editor more skilled in the art of pacing (or less rushed, you pick) would have served the material better.
The narrator did a fairly good job. I would rate his performance a 3.5. The two stars I listed above are for the editing.
The Statues That Walked is a compelling and persuasive challenge to Jared Diamond's thesis in Collapse that the people of Easter Island committed ecological suicide. Actual archaeologists, Hunt and Lipo spent years on the island analyzing the evidence to conclude that the Easter Island natives were in fact great conservationists. For example, they invented a method of stone-spreading to reduce erosion and foster plant growth in soil Europeans would have deemed barren. Most compellingly, the authors challenge the idea that the statues were moved horizontally from quarry to destination using massive amounts of wood for ramps. (Diamond theorized the islanders chopped down their forests to make ramps!) How were the statues moved? They walked. You'll have to read the book to find out how!
The narrator is very effective, and I don't give HIM two stars for performance. I give two stars to the audio editor. There's a section of the book where the same sentence is read twice in a row -- most likely the reading from the end of one day and the beginning of another. Such a glaring mistake means there are likely plenty of other errors waiting to be discovered, and I encourage Audible to fix the error as soon as possible (if they haven't already done so).
This is a great companion to Jared Diamond's Collapse.
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