SARASOTA, FL, United States | Member Since 2011
Obviously Elizabeth's virginity was important, but I wish the book had been less preoccupied with her hymen.
Over the years I had heard many people say that Truman did not have to approve dropping the atomic bombs, that the Japanese had already lost their war. I heard people speculate that Truman had given the go-ahead just to show Stalin that the US had the capabilities or that the US had put so much money and effort into the Manhattan Project, the bomb was like a runaway train, and Truman couldn't stop it. McCullough explains that the Japanese mindset was to die rather than surrender, and they would have kept fighting to the last man, woman, and child. In the book, one Japanese woman was given an awl and told to stab an enemy soldier if it came to that. Truman believed that an invasion of Japan would have cost the US a quarter of a million dead and wounded, and he was not going to allow that to happen. I believe that, and, well, now I know.
I found amazing that Truman had succeeded in very little in life and was suddenly thrust into the presidency at one of the most critical points in our history. He met with FDR only three times between his election to the vice presidency and his swearing in as president.
Reading about Stalin's disregard for Eastern European countries' sovereignty also provides a historical basis for Putin's behavior now. It's happened before, it's happening now, and it will probably happen again.
I recommend this book. McCullough and Runger are an unbeatable combination.
I have never read a more amazing memoir. McCourt can rip your heart out in one paragraph and make you laugh out loud in the next. This heartbreaking story of poverty in America, then Ireland opens readers' eyes to how a young, innocent boy perceives his piteous life of hunger, prejudice, and loss as perfectly normal. The family struggles to survive, but the loving father's alcoholism and eventual desertion reduces the mother to humiliation and begging and the children to shame and theft. Siblings die; siblings survive. Harsh, judgmental relatives refuse to help. Frank and his brothers make their way in a skewed world where Catholicism causes more guilt and misery than offers comfort.
So where's the humor? you may ask. Everywhere in their world where the abnormal is normal.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. That the author narrates the story of his own life makes it all the more touching.
I purchased this book to prepare for a vacation in Ireland. Knowing little about Irish history except the relatively recent tragic events in Northern Ireland, I was stunned to read how much the Irish endured mainly at the hands of the English. For centuries, into modern times, the Irish suffered prejudice, religious persecution, exploitation, injustice, poverty, illness, and cruelty as a result of England's superior military strength, unstoppable aggression, and insatiable greed.
Now I can't wait to take my trip and meet my hosts, whom other travelers have described as hospitable, warm, and generous. This is a great tribute to their strength and faith.
The narrator did a wonderful job. He read beautifully. He had an Irish accent (that would seem obvious, but Johnny Depp, with an American accent, read Keith Richards's autobiography--a choice I'll never understand). Although the facts of the country's history are grim, for some reason the book came across as very interesting rather than depressing and painful. The content struck me as thorough and complete.
I highly recommend this book.
This wonderful book discusses WWII from a much more personal perspective than any I've read. While FDR was the politician and brain of the country at this time, Eleanor was the heart and conscience. She discovered her husband's affair when she was in her mid-thirties and thereafter pretty much went her own way, to the great advantage of social causes in the United States. She was a Civil Rights, Women's Rights, and Labor Rights activist throughout these years and prompted profound advances by pressuring her husband about these causes in the White House. I had no idea.
Nelson Runger's narration was excellent. He does a credible imitation of FDR and Churchill, and his delivery for Eleanor was subtly singsong and high pitched.
Dr. Carl Hart grew up in South Florida, maintained a 2.0 academic average in high school so he could play sports, and managed to avoid brushes with the law, unlike many of his peers. He took an armed-forces aptitude test just to get out of class that day, and he did well enough for the army and air force to try to enlist him. Going into the air force changed his life by expanding his horizons, and he went on to become a tenured professor at Columbia. How could this not be an interesting book?!
Hart believes that the War on Drugs is a policy based in racism and pharmacological ignorance. The laws and enforcement thereof are so heavily weighted against the black community, they are destroying the chance of success in life for generations of young men. The social ills and crime blamed on drugs, he says, existed well before drugs became ubiquitous. His scientific research on addiction and the statistics he relates also show the public's lack of knowledge.
This was a fascinating, thought-provoking book on many levels. I learned a lot.
As for the narrator, I'm glad the decision-makers chose a black man to read the book. My only objection was that he read too slowly and without enough emotion. No matter what he was saying, it was all delivered at the same measured pace.
First, Audible offers this novel as two books, which I did not realize when I purchased Volume 1. When I came to the end and realized the story was unfinished and I was out of credits, the representative was good enough to advance me a credit for Volume 2 so I could keep going. Don't make my mistake; purchase both at the same time.
Tolstoy opens a whole world to the readers, and once you enter, you find yourself inhabiting the country and the times, becoming a part of every social strata, and feeling affected by all aspects of Russian life. Living this masterpiece was a wondrous experience for me. The characters are so vivid, you care about what happens to them after you've read the last page.
I tell my clients that authors have three primary responsibilities: to inform, entertain, and evoke emotions from the readers. No one could do a better job of all three than Tolstoy in this amazing novel.
As a book editor, I ask my clients not to use their characters to speak for them but to allow the characters to speak for themselves. I don't believe this is the case in Resurrection. Tolstoy wants to address the Russian "justice" and penal systems, and although he dramatizes the unfolding action, at its core, the dialogue and narrative are more obviously coming straight from the author than I prefer. The setup is interesting: a wealthy juror finds that the accused murderer is a young woman who lived in his aunts' house and whom he loved and betrayed many years before. Believing his betrayal resulted in her ruination and ultimately brought her to this sorry fate, he takes responsibility and follows her to Siberia, where she is imprisoned. This nobleman's thoughts and dialogue were, in my opinion, not distanced enough from what Tolstoy believed, and I was always aware of the author's presence. I think the author should be invisible to the readers rather than the characters' puppeteer.
I did, however, respect Tolstoy's stance and his taking on his huge and terrible issue that was so unfair and prevalent in his country.
The idea of seeing a psychoanalyst five days a week for years struck me as self-indulgent, but this book showed how some individuals' destructive behavior needs that ongoing, intense attention to unravel the subconscious reasons. Grosz presents a wide variety of issues and includes how his patients' issues and his response to them prompted him to analyze himself. Two stories affected me deeply: his father's return to the locations where he spent his pre-WWII youth, and a violent child who spat in Grosz's face every day for a year and a half.
The narrator did a wonderful job. He communicated Grosz's obvious intelligence and thought-based approach.
Ah, these were the days of meandering, philosophical ruminations, when not every paragraph had to advance the plot. . . . Tolstoy's novel is sheer brilliance, with complex, neurotic protagonists who drive themselves and each other crazy. The sanest characters are the peasants and the women, except for Anna, of course.
Tolstoy does a beautiful job of portraying life in Russia at that time--the politics, religion, society, families . . . what doesn't he talk about?!
The British narrator is wonderfully talented except for one odd kick in his gallop. When he reads the dialogue for peasants, he gives them a Cockney accent, and the kindly Russian Orthodox priest sounds Irish. I'm not kidding.
How many times has someone asked, "If you could meet any historical figure . . ." and you had so many names flash before your eyes, you couldn't make a decision? Well, Peter the Great is Numero Uno for me after having listened to this book. He not only dragged Russia into the modern world, he was a wild man, with boundless curiosity, intelligence, and energy. He didn't care about society's dictates. He didn't care about ceremony, tradition, or rituals.He mocked courtly behavior and the Church. In many ways he was like an out-of-control fraternity boy. He drank too much and partied to the point where no one could keep up with him. At 6'7", he traveled throughout Europe "incognito," not wanting royalty to acknowledge him as he visited their country to learn all he could to improve the life of his countrymen.
This book does not limit itself to Peter the Great. It's about his era, and it was fascinating. I can't recommend it enough.
As for the narrator, is it possible this man lisps, and no one ever noticed?!
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