What's captivating about this book is not the detective work being done, but the insight into everyday life. The book is sprinkled with little jewels -- "the friends from our youth are the best of all." Despite its setting in another culture, this book reminds us that there is a common denominator to the human experience. I found the book enriching and can't wait to finish the series.
After reading all the negative reviews, I have to weigh in in favor of this book. This book is more introspection on the life of Jacobs than an academic discussion of the encyclopedia (thankfully). Jacobs is not beyond poking fun at himself while he examines his own life in an uninhibited way. I thought the narration was great -- the occasional mispronunciations didn't bother me. Cantor's great accents more than made up for them.
I could only take about 30 minutes of this book before my gag reflex was too much to handle (and I consider myself fairly conservative). I found the book full of name calling (democrats are liars, unpatriotic, hate their country, communist sympathizers, etc.) with very little analysis explaining why the republican view was correct. The arguments that were presented were based on extreme circumstances that could have easily occurred in either party. If you are very conservative and believe strongly in a great, left-wing conspiracy, you'll love this book. In my experience, however, conspiracy theories are advanced when there's nothing left to argue.
I absolutely loved this book. Be patient at the beginning, as the book is read by an old man from a child's perspective. Once you get used to this, it is a joy. I cried and laughed. Frank's accent makes this book absolutely priceless in audio format. Though I wasn't raised in poverty or with an alcoholic father, I was struck by how much I related to Frank's childhood experiences. His treatment of sex, religion, and the general anxieties that accompany adolescence really hit home with me. This has been one of my favorite books on Audible. Don't forget to get the sequel, 'Tis, as it is also excellent.
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