This book gives great insight into the overarching history of the Jewish people, though its breadth takes a bit away from its depth, though this is probably a mercy since there is just so much history to review here!
I'm sorry to say that the narration was not very satisfying. Nadia May is a wonderful reader, but here, perhaps because of poor recording equipment?, her voice sounded yappy and incessant. I was surprised by this since some of her other readings have been among my favorites.
This is one of those books which is great to fall asleep to. I look for a good long book that will send me off to sleep, and this one is definitely in that category! On the other hand, listening to it during my waking hours has been very interesting. My respect for the Jewish people, and my compassion for their years and years of suffering has intensified thanks to this book. I believe that this is the sort of history many people should be aware of.
As said in the foreword, this book reads like a suspense novel. The question of who would engage in war with whom is surprisingly interesting, thanks to Barbara Tuchman's ability to tell the tale. However, as things get more complex, it gets hard to follow the various names and places without a firm grip of history and geography already in hand. So many generals, so many skirmishes! Another problem with the audio version is the absence of footnotes. Surely I'd be able to make more sense of quotes and attributions if there were footnotes. Nevertheless, despite these issues, I found that I learned a great deal, and I gained a greater perspective on the root causes of the terrible "Great War" than I'd had previously. (Though I wonder if perhaps her view of the Germans was overly- tainted by the horrors of WWII? Hard to say, but all in all, she really portrays them as irredeemable.)
For a book about a musician, this book has the least musical narrator I've come upon. His accent is so uneven. Is he British? Aussie? American? When he is quoting something where a slight to the source is implied he seems to put on an American southerner accent. Well, the question alone of what he was trying for with this strange mix of accents is quite distracting. I really feel like he ruins a most excellent book. John Eliot Gardner's writing dances along like his conducting a Bach Cantatta. To bad the narrator has not the least lilt in his voice to accompany such a soaring narrative!
I am not a person who listens or reads self-help books, or even many books on spirituality or religion. ( Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, and a few others being the notable exceptions)-- so I approached this warily. I have found though that John O'Donohue's writing describes my experience of Spirit, and his words are expanding my vocabulary for experiences I've had, a way of life I have known, but never managed to express.
I don't imagine his path is one that would speak to all seekers. But if you have been raised with a celtic consciousness, his writing will help to round out your living connection to Spirit and do it in a way that does not conflict with you Christian faith, but rather rounds it out and deepens it.
O'Donahue's voice is clear and musical, with a sort of clear high sound, like the wind working against the ancient stones. It can be a little tiring if you do not listen closely. My suggestion is to take in what he says in short bits. His writing is so full and deep, just like a rich fragrant dish of some delicious food, you don't want to consume it, but rather take it in slowly, and let it work in the hidden parts of your heart, and then go back for more. There is time. There is no need to rush.
Finally I just want to express my profound gratitude for the life and work of this man. He managed to bring together and make sense of the tangle of the celtic consciousness, which is hidden, almost lost in the rush and bright light of modern scientific western thought. -- I am sorry his "clay form" is no longer walking around among us, and yet so grateful that his wisdom has been shared and continues to be heard.
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