Right up there with the very best true crime books I have ever read.
I do not know if this book can officially be classified as a true crime story. It leans very (VERY) heavily on actual courtroom drama, which happens to be a special fascination of mine. If you hate courtroom proceedings, then this book is not for you, unless the general revelations about a particular justice system in Texas, which I believe could well have been a lot of other places, is of interest to you. Or even if that isn't of special interest when you start the book, I believe it will be by the time you finish it. And finish it you will.
This is all about one out-of-control "gypsy" law enforcement guy, I wouldn't call him an officer, although I suppose he officially was one, in title only. He figured out a way to actually enrich himself by setting up bogus drug busts, knowing his own word was all that was required to make the scheme work, while meanwhile he was pocketing a lot of the cash received from the sales he set up. For the sales, he used greatly watered down cocaine originally purchased by him with agency money, then thinned way down. He turned in some of the buy, then sold the altered remainder. This went on for some years. Very lucrative.
So he succeeded in implicating a large group of mainly young black men, but some of them actually had nothing to do with the scheme and the rest, of course, were trapped by illegal means. But most of them ended up in prison with very long sentences. They had ineffective, or no, legal representation. The charges just slid right through the system, in spite of some evidence which was passed over or never presented.
It was quite distressing to be taken step by step through the scenario where such a thing could occur and then continue for what would have been forever, had not a new element been added to the mix. And this new element is not something which the majority of such victims sitting in prisons today have access to.
The narration of this entire book was totally EXCELLENT. It might be the best narration I have heard thus far. The reader very realistically mimicked many characters in the story. He was so good I was not even sure they were all his creations. VERY well done!
I understand there was at least one documentary done on this story. I believe it was done somewhere in the middle, before any resolution had occurred. This documentary served to arouse interest in the case and was no doubt the impetus for the eventual resolution.
I would urge just about any nonfiction lover to treat yourself to this quality book. You can't go wrong.
very disappointed in this book. its presentation, before purchase, led me to think it would be a much more intimate, personal view of the various cases of missing wives that have been in the recent news. this was very misleading.
this book might perhaps satisfy a student looking for a textbook-type presentation of elements regarding missing wives cases. one could easily draw up an outline of these elements, highlighting facets where such cases were similar or dissimilar, etc., from the analysis this book gives.
however, if you are expecting some good old human interest that would REALLY illuminate your understanding of these obscenely ghoulish but seemingly rather common crimes, a delving more deeply into them than the popular reporting has provided, as i was expecting, prepare to be totally let down.
i soldiered on with the book, maybe halfway through it, expecting to, at some point, come to the real meat i was looking for, the ENLIGHTENMENT, before frustratedly giving up. it just was not there. the narration itself was perfectly ok. but this is NOT a book, it seems to me, that is going to make it to any bestseller list. it is DRY, DRY, DRY.
It is another one of my No. 1's, since some are so good I can't give them less than a 5.
I was expecting a relatively vanilla reading of the old classic, which I was better acquainted with several decades ago. I wanted to refresh on some of the goodie olde stories, especially Old Testament.
But I was immediately swept away by the delivery. I admit I was intrigued when I read that the narration was done by some bona fide movie stars, and that there was an original musical score to go along... but those ideas just made me flinch a bit, half expecting this big corny, overly dramatized performance by a bunch of overly holy rollers.
Instead, what was happening starting with "In the beginning..." was an addictive, almost hypnotic sensual experience between the indescribably perfect rendering by the voice that came on, with the identically perfect coloration of the background score, that indeed added and never detracted from the content. I was blown away.
And there is not only music for background, but very tasteful, subtle sound effects which I find add to the stories... you might hear, vaguely in the background, the sound of horses' hooves, or the voices of crowds, or a baby crying. These additions never infringe on the main action, but give it depth and realism.
I am most of the way through the Old Testament now and I must say, even all the otherwise-boring readings of the genealogies and other various long listings, are made completely inoffensive by the wonderful talent of the narrator, together with the soothing and beautiful score.
I have ONE criticism, however, but it is at least just half my idiosyncrasy. This reading is the New King James Version, but the old King James is the one I love and find more poetic and beautiful in the language. However, for the purpose of this reading, I am glad, and I see the sense, of using this version for today's audience. Now comes the "but" part. If I hear the word "awesome" one more time, I just might have to jump off a cliff! I won't say this word is ABUSED, but I dislike the word any time it is used more than once a lifetime. It seems this word is rather freely used in the newer Christian movement, especially in some of the music I have heard. But to me, it means nothing and is just a substitute for a real descriptive word, and I got my dander up after hearing it about the 5th time so far...
I had been wanting to stumble upon just such a reading of the whole Bible, because I need mental fuel to help with my chores, and have no time for sitting and reading anymore. But at the same time, I was hesitant around the edges, worrying about the performance and whether any editorializing might come along with the reading. Also, the price had to be right! So, when the big sale came along, I jumped at the chance to grab this. But never did I expect it to be the first-rate, highest quality piece of work that it is.
I would encourage any person who has any interest AT ALL in the Bible, regardless of religious background, to indulge in this set of books. It is the most painless way imaginable to increase your familiarity and understanding of the historical events of way back when (some of which, by the way, seem to be getting confirmed by archeology lately). You won't even experience it as a lesson learned. You will "be there".
Just an amazing experience. Get it.
The narration has turned me off very early on. I cannot continue. The reader's faking of the so-called southern accent (ah for I, etc) and her inflections in the verbiage that goes along with the bad accent, well, it's just more than I can stand a minute longer. I have tried overlooking this and just concentrating on the story, being a lover of the author, but it is impossible.
No, but the narrator has turned me off from any other books she has read.
Scott Brick is one of my favorites, but just about anyone who would read this book straight out, instead of so badly trying to play the parts, would have been fine with me. I don't require a lot of dramatization. After all, these are not screen plays, they are BOOKS TO BE READ, mainly the old-fashioned way, to one's self. I think a narrator has to be darn close to an educated, experienced actor to do justice when reading audiobooks because they were generally not written for live acting.
I wonder if whoever chooses narrators for these audiobooks realizes how important the choice is to the sales. They have just lost the sale of one book, as I return this. And it took a lot, because I like the author a lot and am a nut for true crime. But this one is way overboard as far as what I can stand! I am very disappointed. Usually I can will myself to disregard annoying things like this, but not this time.
I am several hours into this book, and am returning it and looking for something better. Not sure if my dislike of it stems from my own prejudices and preferences, or whether this book is really as lacking as it seems.
First off, I did not like the narrator. I had previewed her and wasn't thrilled, but had an open mind and thought she would be ok, depending on the story.
But she is just grating on me by now, hard to say why. Really not much inflection at all in her adapting to the various characters' voices, nor in the horrible, grotesque turn of events with which the story begins. She seems flat, unmelodic, mechanical, and too slow most of the time.
But I am so far objecting to the story itself. Right at this point, we are very deep into an investigation of a grisly murder of three young boys, and the investigation is delving deeper and deeper into the idea of a cult situation, with one "suspect" all picked out, and the aim is to round out whatever can be constructed to pin the crime on him.'
I have no feelings as to his guilt or innocence. I am just disgusted at the total lack of normal police standards in conducting this "investigation" and the fact that no other suspects were ever apparently considered at all.
And so, it is just asking too much of me that I must spend the rest of the hours and energy following this sorry tale through to what has to be its logical conclusion - lives ruined, the guilty going free, and so on. For me to go ahead and learn every dastardly detail about how the so-called justice system totally failed in this case is just a bridge too far. I already feel I am getting somewhat upset for nothing. There is a feeling I am getting from the events so far, that this whole thing has no redeeming value and there is not a thing I or anyone else can do at this point. I could be wrong, but that is the half-baked conclusion I have drawn from the information available and from reading around one-third of the book so far.
Hoping to find something better for my dollars and my interest.
I am not even waiting until I finish this book to write this review. We already know how the story ended!
This book, in my estimation, is a spellbinding unwrapping of all the events, large and small, that meshed to create the disaster that was Enron.Having worked for a major global corporation for 25 years myself during the same time period that Enron's business environment was evolving, what with the lack of central controls and the general confusion that prevailed, along with, I might add, the free reign that some new hires who were seen as "young geniuses" were given, I identified strongly with this book's description of the events that culminated in total collapse of not just the business, but countless lives and fortunes that were destroyed as a result. Many of us at my company were experiencing the same fright and uncertainty that plagued many of Enron's and other corporations' employees during that intense period, when the structures we had helped to build were blasted away with seemingly not a thought given to the consequences. I worked in accounting, so it all comes across as very real to me.
While this book does mainly break down the more complicated aspects of the financial constructs coming to life within Enron at the time, I will admit that a certain minor percentage of these are still not clear to me. (And never were to Enron, I believe.) But mainly, the book does make clear most of the events and their settings that caused the ruination of Enron. And to no one's surprise, I imagine, your basic unbridled greed was underlying the entire course of events.
The narration of this book is excellent. I have not encountered any irritations with it. The way it is read allows the listener to not even pay attention to the narration, but just to actually be a part of the action. This is as it should be.
There have been many books on this same topic; I have read some of them and did not even finish a couple, due to the way the material was treated. Because general corporate accounting is a foreign language to an average person on the street, the subject has to be made both understandable and most importantly, interesting, objectives hard to attain. This book definitely meets that challenge.
It also provides a realistic acquaintance for the listener with the characters involved, on a personal basis. This is important in understanding the motivations of characters who veered so far off course.
To my taste, this book accomplishes both of the above objectives better than any other I have read on this topic. It is a very long listen, 20-some hours. But that only serves to extend the pleasure of listening.
I believe very few listeners would be disappointed in this excellent book.
Yes, if they are nonfiction.
Defiinitely. He was excellent, especially in bringing to life various characters.
This book, to me, read somewhat in a similar vein as the story of the Titanic, of which I have not read books, but did see the movie and have read what popular press articles I came across, but with the exception that it was not told from the perspective of a passenger, but a crew member whose father was a career person in the management of cruise ships. The son had a passionate love of cruise ships and everything about them.
Other than that, it was just another story of a horrifying lack of anything resembling safety features, crew training, cruise ship building standards... all subjects that came to light even bigger time, with the sinking of the Titanic. It did display interestingly the politics of cruise ship management, the turf battles and such. It also touched on the issue of labor unions or lack thereof, and the frequently brutal persecution of union advocates.
In this account, there was a fire on the ship that started just hours after the captain keeled over and died in suspicious circumstances. From that point, all hell broke loose and the staff did not worry about anything other than saving their own lives.
A few things were disappointing to me in the listening to this story. The first is that to me, it seemed to take much too long to get started! I was subjected to entirely too much history of cruise ship building in general, and the Morro Castle in particular, and also the biographies of the various characters. I could have done without a lot of that background, especially because it seemed quite dryly written. It was just to be endured, until the action started.
The other main disappointment was that, while a lot of suspicions were raised regarding the death of the captain, and the setting of the fire, nothing was resolved. I felt the author should have offered something firm about these events, even if the offerings were only his studied opinions. I didn't feel he offered as much detail and research into these two things as might have been available. He did not even offer much in the way of the speculations or opinions of the time, that might have been available.Surely there would have been endless newspaper articles. There just seemed to be a big hole towards the end of the book, with these matters left hanging and not any satisfying possibilities offered to ease the reader's mind. It was frustrating to keep looking for this during the last third, or fourth, of the book and then fearing that there would be no resolution, which turned out to be the case.
All of that said, this WAS a pleasant listen, it did hold my interest all the way through, once I got started on the action phase. The narrator was excellent and this book gave him plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents. But if it is very meaty, complete, historical type research results you are looking for, you will not find it here. You will find a pleasant pastime for driving or doing light chores around the house and probably will not be disappointed.
Speaking as one who has a special interest in the whole Hitler phenom, and has read all I could get my hands on regarding this, for at least a decade, this book was a slight disappointment because it did not offer me anything at all new. The main idea of the book was supposedly one family's experiences living in Berlin during the Nazi's brutal rise to power, with all the terror that implies. But in fact, this was a US ambassador, his wife and two grown children. They were obligated to maintain certain social interactions with German government personnel, which came to include Hitler's people, and beyond that, the daughter did venture off on her own and form relationships with people she encountered in line with her father's status.
But at no time did this family actually experience anything like what the German citizens, not to mention those who were Jewish, did. In fact, the diplomat and his family members spent most of their couple years' stay there in near-total denial that Hitler would have done such things as they were witnessing with their own eyes. That part felt vaguely troubling to me, but not due to any inferior writing but rather because it reflected badly on the supposed American values that US citizens were supposedly living by, at home. It revealed a shallowness.
To step one bit further into this shallowness idea, it appears that the main reason for the ambassador to be there in the first place was to try to see to it that Germany paid the very substantial sums that were then owing to American businesses, that were at risk what with the turmoil going on in Germany. Even after some atrocities against the Jews came to light, the ambassador's main concern regarded that money. What the German government did to their own citizens was more or less an internal matter, even after the atrocities were known.
The 20 year old daughter Martha did indulge in a very free lifestyle including obvious affairs, some even with Nazi officials. She did not leave with a good reputation. But I see her as just an upper-class, spoiled American who was doing what probably many of the younger generation might do, given a chance to try out a privileged lifestyle in another country..... The world is not nearly so judgmental today as in the 1930's.
So, while the book did offer glimpses into both the changes taking place in Germany, and smaller ones into perhaps world reaction, including in the US, and it also provided quite detailed descriptions of the daughter's activities, and less so of the ambassador's, overall to me it read like tiny tastes of various items that would have held so much promise, had they been developed more completely. Since I was already versed in the subject, I did not feel too cheated, but I definitely would have, had I approached the book with a strong interest but without pre-acquired knowledge of the subject.
The narrator is one of my favorites, Even with a lot of German and a bit of Russian thrown in, he did a wonderful job. I could listen to no one but him and be happy.
Scott is fast becoming my very favorite narrator. He positively contributes to the flow of events with his inflections, his varying pace, his intonations. I feel like I am IN the story, secretly observing it unfold from behind a door, a tree; I am THERE, watching, listening...
First let me say, it took me awhile to figure out that this book consists of two detailed, fascinating tales on their own. There did happen to be some overlap between the two, but either could have been complete and great without the other. I kept looking for the link between the two for the first several chapters, and feeling confused at not finding one.
Eventually, as the two stories unfolded, I began to understand that they were just two different stories that happened to unfold at the same time, with one (the murders) leaning heavily on the setting created by the other one (the fair). I wish this would have been crystal clear to me from page one.
That said, this was some kind of awesome book. I am a true-crime freak, and I really did not expect to be so sucked into the entire story of the fair with all the drama and personalities that went with it. I expected to be bored by that, but I was not. It was truly amazing and I LOVED being able to actually step back to that period of time and WATCH as the fair was built from the ground up. I shared the suspense with the fair's creators, as the failures and successes unfolded, as the dazzling White City arose from the ground, from nothing.
I will also admit to just a slight tad of disappointment at being made to wait what felt like so long, before I was allowed to actually LEARN what was happening as far as the murders were concerned. I suspect this disappointment might have come from plain old greed, more than anything about how the story was laid out! I had to endure a degree of suspense for awhile until it became perfectly obviously what was going on with the Doctor and be fully exposed to the unimaginable sickness of that person.
It was a book that was hard for me to take a break from, but since I only have certain times for listening, I had to. It was extremely well written, I thought, and Scott Brick, to my taste, was the perfect reader for it. He brought the life to the written words.
So to anyone who looks at the title and thinks oh, just a boring story about some musty, old world's fair, do not be deceived. It is not boring at all and what it gives you is a very meaty, juicy chunk of a world that existed right here in America, a younger, brasher America. You can enjoy the feeling of actually living the history that was then, tasting the times, feeling the excitement of the idea of "everything was new and magical, then". It was a grand rush of effort by umpteen thousands of workers, smack in the middle of a terrible depression with horrible unemployment and despair. For awhile, the focus of much of the country was on this great White City, and all things were possible. The sky was the limit. Intoxicating times.
As for the serial murderer, I believe that while serial murderers are probably as old as the human race, our knowledge of them, that they exist and the beginnings of how to deal with them, was at that time also a "new thing". Like a lot of such murders, it took an exceptional effort and dedication to bring that whole story out to the light of day at a time when such effort was far from the norm. I squirmed and worried as those events occurred, that they would forever go unknown and unpunished. What was particularly fascinating was just how they almost did.
I do not think you have to be either a true-crime lover nor a history buff, to thoroughly get sucked in with this wonderful book. Even if you are just shopping for an escape from humdrum reality, or relief from boring chores, I highly recommend it.
i stuck with it, painfully, thru parts 1 and 2, but now i am crying uncle! can't stand any more. granted, i do chores while listening, and so can get distracted now and then, but if i was asked, i would be unable to describe any intelligent flow or direction, not to mention any of the characters or settings, that this book supposedly belabors thru the 3 parts. it isnt that i did not try! i relistened to various parts again and again, but it seems i was not able to connect hardly anything being described, to any past information or relate it to the overall plot which was, i presume, the beginnings of WW1. VERY disappointing for me!
perhaps the narrator is a lot to blame, not sure. the very intense british accent, but most especially her almost sing-song manner that carried all through part 1 and most of part 2 was as if the whole thing were just some kind of tea party at tea time. that is the spirit it seemed to be in. it did not seem serious at all. in that regard, what was being said did not seem AUTHENTIC, because one knows any discussion of that war had to have some very serious considerations. i could not discern them. perhaps in part 3, things come together and start to carry the gravity they should, but i dont know. i do recall one reference to over 100,000 casualties, but you had to listen hard to catch it, it was stated in such a light and breezy way and just kept on going with no emphasis or time to really digest it. it just went on to something else. THAT ticked me off... i had to go back a couple times to be sure i heard it right.
another major irritant for me was all the french and german terminology that was thrown in, and possibly even some russian. i could guess half the time what was being said, but the rest of the time, i just was clueless. and there was no translating done. that ticked me off as well. perhaps there were footnotes or something at the end of the book which explained the non-english words. but because of the HEAVY USE of those words throughout this book, the reader really needs an assist in order to understand events, and it is most annoying to just be carried forward while still puzzling majorly over what was just read.
so, i am returning this book for which i had such high expectations. i kept listening to it, convinced that it must be some ignorance on my part that i couldnt follow it, because of all the very high reviews. well maybe it IS just me. but i am a lover in general of just this type of historical book so it isnt as if the genre is foreign to me. regardless, i think i can find something i can finish that will be not such an unpleasant labor.
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