I really enjoyed this book. Like the other reviewer, I was a bit surprised to hear a British accent from the narrator, but Simon Vance is one of the very best narrators. (He also uses the names Richard Matthews and Robert Whitfield, but they're all the same man).
This book provides rich historical detail about the very early days of the United States. The author does an excellent job providing background information. So the chapter on Herman Husband, who believed the (then) Western US (ie Western PA and VA) would be the New Jerusalem of Revelation, is really an excellent overview of all the religious currents running through American society at the time.
There's also great detail on the debate over federal taxation and Hamilton's agency in getting the whiskey excise tax implemented.
The reason for 4 stars and not 5 is that the author's explanation of the unfolding of the Rebellion is so compressed as to lack sense. This is surprising since his attention to detail everywhere else in the book is so thorough.
I would also recommend this book only to those who already have an interest in early American history. For the more general reader, I suggest 1776 and Washington's Crossing.
This book is very well written and narrated, but its subject matter is a bit narrow in appeal. It details the final years of Churchill's life. As a Churchill admirer, I enjoyed the book and felt it was a way of spending time in the presence of the great man WSC was. You will learn about people around WSC and more about the issues of the day, but there are no bright new insights into his character.
The author is a very literate and amusing guy, who only occasionally uses this forum to settle political scores. Two strikes against this book are: 1) the first quarter is about the author prior to his association with Churchill. That may not appeal to everyone but I liked that part. 2) This is perhaps the WORST sound editing I have ever heard in an audio book. Things go along fine for a stretch and then there's duplicate lines, long pauses, repeated words, etc. It's as if no one bothered to listen to the final audio product and correct the many recording errors. I don't know how to rate this defect, The narration, by the author's nephew, is very good, the story is interesting, and the book overall is fine. But if there were a category for "sound editing", I would give one star.
Metaxas writes history, not as an historian would, but like a high school student: first this happened, then that happened, and then this other thing. He has no overarching thesis to develop, no interpretation of Bonhoeffer or his life. When he does offer commentary, it is almost always a banal repeating of a direct quotation in slightly different words.
Bonhoeffer was an extraordinary person and not even the author's plodding narrative can hide this. But I regret that so many people will know Bonhoeffer only through this caricature of a biography.
The narration is fine, except for most of the German pronunciation, which again sounds like an American high school student, and not very close to how we actually pronounce German words.
It may take ten years or more before there is room in the publishing world for a new English language biography of Bonhoeffer, but I predict this one will quickly and rightly be forgotten once that happens.
The writing is great, the narration perfect, but the story is overwhelmed by the profound nihilism of the author. There is not one single likeable character. No one ever acts for decent reasons; everything is always a cold calculation. I found it very hard to care about the characters.
I really enjoyed this story of the assassination of President Garfield. This book does an excellent job of conveying the kind of man Garfield was. The story told is riveting, and it concerns a president about whom I knew very little. So if you enjoy learning a lot and hearing a well told story with solid narration, you will like this book.
There are two faults with the book, however. First, the author tries to create suspense by having Alexander Graham Bell race to invent an instrument which would find the bullet and save the president's life. This narrative, though fascinating, is factually off-base as the bullet's continued presence in the body had nothing to do with the president's death. The author makes clear elsewhere, and correctly, that the president died of sepsis from infections caused by the doctors, not by the bullet. Many Civil War soldiers, e.g., lived long lives with bullets still in their bodies.Second, the author makes over-inflated claims that the death of Garfield was THE thing that brought the nation together and created a national, as opposed to regional, identity for all Americans. If this were true, you would find evidence of this in multiple places, such as national organizations and societies being formed, a national newspaper, etc. It's a large claim that the author supports with a single piece of evidence, a newspaper editorial.The two instances of the lack of scholarly rigor do not detract from the compelling story told in this book.
I really enjoyed this book detailing the incredible story and sacrifice of "Torpedo 8" at Midway and Guadacanal. The story is told from the point of view of the men who lived it, in the style of a Stephen Ambrose book. I much preferred this to anything by Ambrose, who is just OK as a story teller. This book, together with The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailor, are my two favorite books on the War in the Pacific. If you enjoy the day to day, play by play, tale of the men who fought and died in that theater, you will love this book. 5 stars.
This is a wonderful book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I think the author brilliantly executes the idea of Cicero's slave remembering the early career of the young Cicero. It is great history, combined with courtroom drama and interesting characters. The narrator is flawless.
This is intended to be the first part of a trilogy. I only the same narrator is used and eagerly await the next two installments.
I enjoyed this book and learned an enormous amount. It is not so much a blow by blow account of the battle as much as a "meta-history" of the sociological forces at play in 1805. There are long discussions of what "honor" and "duty" meant in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. There's a comparison of Wordsworth and Nelson. So in this sense it is a very academic study and sometimes falls prey to the excesses that pass for scholarly learning in some quarters-- e.g. the interpretation of King Henry's speech at Agincourt in terms of Freudian sexuality. Or the personification of Violence which runs throughout the book and leads to statements like :Paradoxically the violence of battle was a release, a calm in the midst of the storm... etc.
If your interest is in military history, this work will disappoint. If you want to learn a lot about the period from the extremely well-read author, then this work might be of interest.
Les Standiford is the author of numerous books of fiction. For some reason, he decided to try to tell the story of Frick and Carnegie. While this book is interesting at points, it fails as a history book for a number of reasons. First, the research the author did (the hardcory has a bibliography) is very limited, and this shows throughout the book. The author knows almost nothing of the age of which he is writing, and thus provides little context for the events and personalities he's describing. What little context he does provide is often wrong. He knows nothing about how a corporation's stock works, so is unable to describe accurately the way Carnegie took control of Frick's company.
The second problem is the number of historical errors. Saugus is in MA, not MI; anthracite was discovered in Eastern PA, not Western, etc etc. He wrongly attributes a bunch of financial speculators from Chicago with "pioneering the invention of vertical integration". Well, if you've only read 5 books on the period and only 2 of them were economic histories, you might make these kind of errors.
Finally, the author fails to explain how America was changed by the relationship of these two men. At the end, he makes a ridiculous attempt to draw lessons for today from his history. He takes a swipe at Wal-Mart for being non-union, as if the role of unions has not changed from Carnegie's time to the present.
There are wonderful books on this fascinating period of American history by qualified writers (John Steele Gordon and David McCullough). This is unforunately not one of them, and Standiford is out of his league here.
This is really a book about global warming. The author is a lawyer for a state environmental regulatory body and gets interested in coal because of a case she worked on. She writes very interesting historical summaries of coal use in England, the US, and China. I agree with another reviewer that she lacks expertise on this topic and that her sources are vague and insubstantial.
She also lacks judgement and logic. She early on shows her hand with the statement that climate change is primarily caused by fossil fuels we burn". This is simply not true. The global climate is influenced in part by this, but her simplistic idea that we can stop global warming by dropping fossil fuels is unscientific. The planet has been a lot warmer in the past; solar activity over which we have no control effects climate etc.
She has a childike faith in the Kyoto Protocol, which (she does not mention) Pres. Clinton never even submitted to the Senate, even though his VP negotiated it. Many people object to Kyoto because it exempts China, India, and other nations, which might then attract jobs away from the regulated countries. Her answer is that the treaty does not say these jobs will leave the US. Such logic is staggering.
She also lacks judgment. She complains that the coal industry--unlike high tech--is controlled by large conglomerates, and also that US coal use is increasing. Yet she never stops to ask why these this is the case. Is the answer because of the very kind of environmental regulation she is such an advocate of?
She also seems to have a strange tolerance for Chinese pollution, saying that they are entitled to pollute their way to wealth, just as we did (it's only fair); meanwhile she bemoans global warming. She excitedly cites stats showing their pollution is now 3x over the limit, down from 4x.
In sum, the historical parts are interesting; the narration great; the author's apocalyptic agenda tedious.
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