Having just finished reading Demonic I was looking forward to Coulter's razor logic and irrefutable arguments in this volume. Although elements were there, Coulter was far less disciplined in her arguments in this book.
Many of the elements which Coulter attributed to "Liberals" were, in fact, truthful. However, making blanket statements about members and beliefs of a political party can be hazardous. Coulter ignored those hazards and plunged ahead with the same mindless demagoguery that Liberals so often use when attempting to denigrate members of the Tea Party and other Center Right and Right Wing groups. She selected in many cases the most extreme views and applied them without discrimination to all Liberals, a thing which is as unsustainable as applying the extremist philosophies of some right wing individuals to all of us on the right. It just doesn't cut it.
When discussing Darwinian theory Coulter is excellent, but, again, she tends to extremes which make much of what she is saying less palatable.
Demonic was a superbly written book which could well become a textbook of the right and righteous. This book was a diatribe written more in anger than logical thought. This style of writing and talking has driven me away from listening to many right wing commentators, Coulter among them, as they tend to make representations which do not stand up to logical argument. Demonic on the other hand is a wonderful source for argument and historic reference. That is what I seek, not blind fanaticism that convinces only members of the choir. Hopefully, Demonic will be the forerunner of the future style of Coulter's writing and talking. She is unquestionably brilliant and well versed. She needs to stick to facts and avoid emotionalism which drives a good deal of Godless.
I have listened to more than 200 audio books and would put this book close to the top, if not at the top itself.
Over the years I have read hundreds of books on climbing, quite a few of them describing the early Everest expeditions. Never before has an author put the climb and climbers into the context of the period in which it occurred. Above All Things by Tanis Rideout has been one of my favorite books specifically on Mallory, but it was novelized. This is pure fact, superbly researched and written, and it brings all of the players into focus so clearly. I was skeptical about Wade Davis writing about a climbing expedition, but he has great understanding combined with superb skills as a writer. It has never been so clear that those concepts of high altitude climbing so familiar to any modern climber were largely evolved during the three early attempts on Mount Everest.
It was definitely difficult to stop listening, but at 28 hours a bit long for a single sitting. It is certainly one that I will return to again and again.
Wade Davis has achieved a remarkable feat, produced a book on climbing the like of which may never be done again. It is a book that even non-climbers can read and enjoy. His descriptions of the trenches of WWI from the perspectives of the various players compares to some of the best writing on that period. This is truly a work of real genius.
I would not recommend this to any of my friends. They are, for the most part, experienced climbers who would find Simmons very elementary knowledge of climbing history, climbing equipment, and the effects of high altitude totally silly.
This is my second Dan Simmons' novel, and very likely my last. I am not much into melodrama, and I prefer that the author I read know at least as much about his subject as I do. Simmons doesn't. He breaks Hemingway's first rule, write only about that which you know and have experienced.
Collins is decent reader, although I prefer someone with a bit more "grit" in his voice. If I were reading this book myself, I would likely have tossed it long before the end. I found myself shouting at the speakers when Simmons' inane lack of knowledge of mountaineering practices and the actual nature of German climbers of the 1920s and 30s demonstrated a complete ignorance of the real people, many of whom were superb individuals without any political agendas. The NAZIs were scum. Most climbers were no different than climbers all over the world, just interested in reaching unclimbed summits for their own sake, not for their country or their party.
As mentioned earlier, scream at the speakers and want to puke.
I climbed and guided in the mountains for nearly 40 years. I have read hundreds of books on mountaineering, expeditions, biographies of climbers, and several on the discovery of George Leigh Mallory's remains. I found Simmons' use of that tragedy and pretense that the event took place almost three quarters of century earlier than it actually did to be in very poor taste. His description of the condition of the body taken from The Lost Explorer by Conrad Anker and David Roberts to border on plagiarism. Only one other book, The Eiger Sanction, irritated me as much as this one did. In both cases the authors read one or two books on the subject and proceeded to write their own with a minimal understand and knowledge of the subject they were exploring.
Weiner has done some excellent research. He is an excellent writer who can create a very compelling story. I have read this in print as well as listened to the audio version. What troubles me with this book is that despite his claim that his book represents only the truth he expresses his opinions of motivations, something that cannot be called fact. These are interspersed in the text in places where they seem to flow in the narrative in a way that makes them seem to be as truthful as the actual facts surrounding them.
I am no fan of the New York Times or its version of truth. Unfortunately, Weiner allows his association with that paper and its editorial viewpoint which flavors its own reporting to affect his writing.
This is still an excellent history, but one must listen very carefully so as not to be drawn into opinions which are not necessarily supported by the facts in which they are embedded.
This is not a book that lends itself to the audio format. It is jammed full of facts with little or no real insights into the personalities of the people involved. Having recently read A Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner, I anticipated a book of comparable interest. I found myself drifting off mentally and losing interest. The narrator adds little with his flat, upper crust OxBridge accent. It may well be an excellent source book for scholars, but for the casual reader seeking to understand the development of the British secret service it is far too involved in the minutia. You rapidly loose the forest as the author examines each tree in detail.
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