A great book and worth the wait. I can’t fathom how someone can weave history and characters together so effectively. He’s an amazing talent. I thought the earlier events and characters were referenced about the right amount….enough to remind you, but the current stories and people were sufficient to enjoy the book.
One thing that rang true for me was his portrayal of women, especially with respect to sex. The way women thought and felt seemed believable to me, and I can connect with it myself as well as through my parents, who would have been young adults in the war years. Some writers, such as Alan Furst, seem to have their characters hop from one sensual adventure to the next, with an endless string of available women. That is one outlook and it reveals the male character’s view of women as sensual delights, which is fine. But it’s not really portraying a woman’s point of view in its fullness. For example, pregnancy or birth control never seems to factor into Alan Furst’s books, but does in this book by Ken Follett. That seems more accurate and reflective of real women, especially in the 1930’s and 40’s.
John Lee, of course, is superb.
If you're interested in this topic in a general way, you can't go wrong with this book. It was very readable, with great characterizations of the principals involved, plus lots of subtle humour. If it ever dragged slightly, it was never for long. By necessity, it had to jump from one country to another to cover them all and their interactions, but the descriptions of each were so vivid, I didn't find it hard to keep track. The fall of the Berlin Wall wasn't as emotional to me in its portrayal as it had been in another book, but that's fine too. The other book, one of fiction, works well as a companion piece to this one. The fiction one that I read first was Ken Follett's final book in the Century Trilogy, called the "Edge of Eternity". They each have their place, but really I'd say this one, 1989, is a stronger book, with no bias to speak of and entertaining enough to hold one's interest. Ken Follett's book covers a broader topic than eastern Europe, of course, with a major focus on the civil rights struggle. They are both great for casual history buffs who aren't really willing to slog through anything too dry in their free time!
I did enjoy this, despite some evidence of bias, as others have said. When I expected the bias ahead of time from the reviews, it didn't bother me as much. For me, I prefer less explicit sex too, but I made it through those fairly brief scenes and I suppose it represents the times! The ending was startling and sad, at Obama's first election, (no spoiler there) in light of what has gone on in recent months related to Ferguson and more. The force impeding progress for blacks is no longer white racists, but race baiters and they can even be in high office (IMHO)! But, all in all, the book was great and it has inspired me to read a non-fiction book on a related theme, which is Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire by Victor Sebastyen, also available here in Audible. I'm half way through and it's fantastic. The two fit very well together and the second is very readable history. If Sebastyen has a bias, I can't really find it. The author himself fled Hungary as a child with his parents in the Soviet crackdown, so there is an additional dimension. There are some individuals and events mentioned in the Revolution book that clearly were the inspiration for some of Follett's characters, which makes the Edge of Eternity that much more plausible. I was not as disappointed as some others were by this book, despite it probably not being his very best.
Delightful social commentary with just believable characters that you come to care about. I'm back looking for Number 3 and I just can't picture listening to anything else right now.
This was my first Inspector Rutledge mystery and I'm still deciding if I would try another. I enjoyed the period, exploring the personal fall-out after World War 1 through a range of different characters. It seemed to move rather slowly for me, plus be busy with creating moods, which weren't necessarily relevant to the plot. Not my favourite, but I definitely wanted to finish it.
This book probably completes the series for me. I enjoyed it, but the narrator's attempt at all the voices and accents was very laboured. I found it distracting all through the book. I understand how very difficult it is to 'act' all these different parts and make them believable and hearing someone, who technically is probably getting close to the right accent, yet makes it sound awful, helps you to appreciate the others.
As I love the spy genre, I'm always happy to find authors who explore it. I can't say I love the 2 Charles Cumming books I've read, but I am happy they were there and I'll read more. Thinking about A Colder War, there's something missing and I'm not sure what it is, but overall, I wanted to keep listening and some sections were exciting. The characters seem somewhat believable and the less-than-heroic lead character is no more annoying than many others.
The main thing about these books is clearly how endearing the dog is and what it's like to see things from his point of view. It stays with me for days, thinking I understand dogs especially well afterwards. But there was enough story to keep me interested here, which I didn't expect when I started. It's so sweetly written and perfectly narrated by Jim Frangione. It's the second of the series I've read and I'm sure every now and then, I'll pick up other ones. The titles alone make them tempting!
This is a well-told and highly relevant exploration of the shadowy world of black market arms trading, focussing on one particular case. It was so well written, it puts the issue of stealing high-tech military secrets and hardware front and center as an important issue of our time. The technical details are easy to handle, set amongst the rich characters and riveting storyline. Apparently, it is going to be adapted into a movie, but I highly recommend reading it anyway, as the minor characters and rich contextual details won't make it into that format. Most exciting, scary and fascinating book I've read for ages. It fits well with Manhunt: the Ten Year Search for Bin Laden by Peter Bergen, as they both cover enormously relevant recent history through recounting the capture of one individual. Excellent storytelling of real, but covert, events.
This is great storytelling, with just the right amount of detail and well told. I hadn't really realized how interesting each part of it would be, peeking behind the scenes at every stage of the process. I found the coverage balanced, not favouring any particular outlook or presidency. It IS a great success of the Obama presidency and, even though I don't support him overall, we all can celebrate successes by any president, hopefully. After all, we're all Americans! (I'm actually Canadian, but you know what I mean).
Women especially, haven't you wondered how his wives fit into all of this, what kind of people they were, how they lived? In this book, you find out.
In the epilogue of the book, he relates the other threats of militant Islam besides Al Qaida, which by this point in time, after he wrote the book, have proved to be very troubling indeed. Bergen doesn't see the whole movement as a threat overall to the West, comparable to Communism or Nazism, and I hope he's right. Time only will tell. I think it's better to take it seriously though and I think the real story is NOT that Bush screwed up in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that there aren't easy answers to this threat and no president would likely have been able to 'fix' it. I think it should be clear it's a long struggle, dating perhaps from 1979, and obviously still with us.
But this book is a riveting account of every stage of this particular mission and for anyone even slightly interested, a very enjoyable book!
I enjoyed the Spy Wore Red many years ago and one other of her books, so I thought this might be an almost-as-good additional journey into her world. It wasn't. There isn't much of a story and I'm not continuing with it. I should have trusted the other reviews!
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