Well, after listening to "Escape From Camp 14" I was prepared for most anything, and that preparation served me well. No one denies that the poor, enslaved souls of North Korea live under a regime second only to Stalin and his Gulag Archipelago (have we forgotten that he murdered almost twice as many people as Herr Hitler?). From that vantage point this book reinforces the notion that the torture of these people is one of the most heinous crimes of this and the last century.
With that in mind we find ourselves at "Mr. Jin-sung's" book. Does it stand as fiction, the truth, or on ground somewhere in between. I say the latter and for the following reasons:
1) The circumstances of his escape are too incredible to be believed. His month long journey at times rings impossible and leaves the listener in a state of bewilderment. Maybe it was written as it was for good reasons, but it is hard to believe that his trip occurred as he would have us believe;
2) The grammar and sometimes use of Western phrases raises the suspicion that his ghost writer (and I surely do believe there was one) added a Western tone that I found obvious and disturbing;
3) The author comes off as too naive by half. He wants the listener to believe that at the tender age of 27 he worked his way into the very CLOSEST circles of Dear Leader, I mean among the top ten, if not five, confidants, and yet when he is in China he finds the culture and "wealth" there incomprehensible. For a man whose job partially included the task of learning to think like a South Korean by learning everything he could about them this unending litany of shock over encountering a culture in northern China-not far removed from South Korea-as a bit much.
Okay, even with those flaws I recommend the listen. The description of how North Korea and its "government" worked in the 1990s and early 2000s (which I chose in the main to take at face value) leaves one speechless.
OK but that is not a reason to listen to the book.
Only as set out above.
Don't know, have not read the print version.
Spare me, in a history that covers fifty years?
For those history buffs who want a very close look at this brilliant lunatic. Hitler's triumph was based on virtually all of the pieces surrounding his life falling into place, and his manipulation of them once presented, in ways that defy one's imagination ... until the end of course. The author presents that history to the listener in ways that make the listen hard to turn off.
All of it
This is The definitive history of Abraham Lincoln written as writers used to write and by a master. No matter how familiar you are with the life and times of Lincoln, listen to/read this book.
Even if you think you know about that crucible you don't unless you've read this book.
Surprising in so many differing ways. The South did not lose that war the first day or at little Round Top or certainly Pickets' charge. It lost the battle and arguably the war during the afternoon of the second day, as a result of Lee's philosophy of command, and Professor Guelzo does an outstanding job of allowing the listener in on this "secret".
No I have not but I will be looking for him.
This is so much better than "The Killer Angels" and it, not that text, should have been made into a movie. I doubt if Hollywood will but it by God it should. Better yet, a short TV series not unlike "Band of Brothers".
The book is very specific, probably best suited for use as a manual at West Point. What could be attempted are computerized graphics inserted in the text like "Berlin 1961, The Most Dangerous Place In the World" (title probably wrong but I read it sometime ago, clearly the future of eBooks).
I gravitate toward detail when it comes to military histories. So this was right up my alley. However, if you don't stay away. I found it very helpful to go to Google Earth to keep up with deployments, battles, etc. The narration was spot on.
On substance, Grant does not go into any detail about losses but does so with victories. I had to continually remind myself this book was written in the 1880s and that might have passed muster then, but not now. Even with that drawback I found myself liking Grant as a person more as chapter followed chapter. He comes off as a decent human being notwithstanding the ghastly horrors of which he was part, especially in the final two years of the war.
I really can't recommend the audible effort of what might otherwise be a commendable historical novel. The performance is very bad and in my mind continually attempts to assert itself over the content of the novel with regrettable consequences. Buy the written version.
I read "Killing Kennedy" first and my comments about that effort are there. This book is written and narrated in very much the same style. To any passing student of history there is little here that is "shocking". However, the authors do credible work tying together the widely separated events surrounding this historical tragedy into credible, if not also pop, history. Most troubling to me was the fate of Mary Surratt. There was reasonable doubt (at least as it pertains to the death penalty) but of course those times did not allow for such things and she was hanged with men much more intimately involved.
Once one accepts the fact that the story line of this book is about pedophilia (a curse we all condemn including its author) you are in for an experience that for me was breathtaking. Jeremy Irons is so masterful in his narration that it oft overshadows the writing which is even more masterful. What can you say about an artistic effort that you simply do not want to miss, no matter what.
I say don't miss anything written and narrated by this man. He is less material than a beam of light that will touch your soul. I am writing this to describe my reaction to "Uncommon Reader" but it goes for almost everything I have read by him. DO NOT PASS THIS OR HIS OTHER BOOKS BY.
I liked "Gorky Park" and stayed with it through the end but gave up on "Polar Star". Rented the "Gorky Park" movie, bought the T shirt, and both were just okay (as you can see I am a toughie). The problem the author has is a writing style that leads the reader from one more or less unpredictable moment to another. I found myself saying after a while, "who cares". Both books really could have used a much more ruthless editor (phone the copy desk).
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