A fast paced spy novel set in the post 9/11 world of terrorists and fanatics. The story becomes more and more unbelievable as it unfolds while at the same time becoming more predictable near the end. No real suspense in the conclusion. The narrator did the Da Vinci Code but stumbles occassionally with regional American accents. Overall, OK if you can suspend your disbelief.
The power of an Islamic fundamentalist state to change the life of one man is well illustrated in this autobiographical account of the Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Rushdie is well educated, erudite, Muslim by upbringing and family tradition but more an expat Indian and Englishman when his life is turned upside down by the fatwa. This is Rushdie's personal story - more about his family, loves, friendships, and writing than an action/adventure movie. Like most of the educated West I knew that he was threatened but nothing about what that would mean for one man. His relationships with his personal protection team are particulary telling. Parts are rushed, parts are very self indulgent but it is his story and very revealing of the man and his times.
I enjoyed Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series but am very disappointed in this new book. The Mieji reformation was the birth of modern Japan and must have been a time full of larger than life characters and exciting stories, but you would never know it from this book. This book has several flaws - 1) the characters develop very slowly or not at all, 2) most of the multiple threads of narrative are very superficial and 3) there is a huge cast of named Japanese characters, historical and geographical references that would be difficult to follow even with a glossary of Japanese terms and maps . But the fatal flaw is the lack of a compelling story. The performance was probably good but hard to judge because of my negative feelings for the book.
A war story, a coming of age story, a buddy story and a romance - City of Thieves is all those things and more. The setting during the first winter of the siege of Leningrad with the horrors of war and the totalitarian Communist state is surreal, but completely convincing. There is certainly profanity but it's part of the world and not gratuitous. The narration is superb - although sometimes it is difficult to catch the switch in characters during a conversation. Overall, a great story, that I am listening to for the second time now.
Jeffrey Archer's fictional interpretation of George Mallory's life and his heroic assault of Mt. Everest is a fascinating story and the narrator does a great job. The novel's strength is in the historical tale and in its description of the times. It is less successful at bringing Mallory to life but it the plot and history make it a compelling tale.
This book is different in scope than Troost's previous books but is similarly sharp and witty. It is at times harsh and unflattering to China but reveals at least as many shortcomings about the author. I would not depend upon Troost for accurate historical or demographic details but he does provide an entertaining perspective on the chaos of modern China as seen by a (far) outsider. For a more balanced view from a China insider I would recommend "China Road". It also is not very flattering to China at times but is not as "over the top" as Troost.
This book is a sequel to "How I paid for college..." and is very similar in style and substance. And that is its strength and weakness. On the plus side it is light and very funny. But the downside is significant with almost no character development from the first book and the plot, narrative and characters are very predictable. I loved the first book, but once was enough.
The title, premise and arguements are intentionally provocative and predictably offend many listeners. However, he does make some good points, although they are sometimes buried in historical detail and statistics that not even Scott Brick can make interesting. I listened to the book in June 2009 by which time the political landscaped of America has had so many changes that it makes many of the book's contentions obsolete. However, the book does predict that previous policies would risk the financial and economic difficulties that have come to pass. It's a sobering analysis.
Bernard Cornwell's Agincourt is the historical novel equivalent of the lastest action/adventure movies - think "Blackhawk Down" and "Casino Royale". It is historically accurate and focuses on Henry V's invasion of France including siege warfare and the epic battle of the title. Be warned, this book is full of the details of profanity, brutality and horror of medieval warfare. This is not a criticism but describes the strength of the story. Overall, it is a faster pace than Cornwell's Starbuck and Vagabond series but lacks some of the character depth of his superb Sharpe series. Still, it is a good read.
A scholarly, philosophical and very critical review of American foreign policy since WW II. Bacevich's is scathing in his criticism of politicians, the military and the American people's "pursuit of happiness". The first part of the book is too dense at times for easy listening. The heart of the book is Bacevich's analysis of lessons to be learned from the Iraq war. In today's environment when such exercises are labelled as unpatriotic, these lessons are a welcome and needed addition to the public discussion.
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