This is not a bad book and it is very interesting in terms of learning about the culture of one of the Native groups (Chippewa, I believe). The narrator is a young teenager who reacts to the rape and almost murder of his mother. The writing is very good, but I was not too interested in the story and also have a hard time with stories that I perceive as showing a stereotyped view of women (as weak, serving roles in stories primarily as victims). There are some interesting minor female characters, but the primary roles of women in this story is to have something terrible happen to them and then the male figures have to react. Unfortunately, this view has become so dominant in our literature that even highly rated female authors fall for it. In contrast, the women that I see in every day life are brave and struggle with many issues of meaning, spirituality, goals, etc.
I also had difficulty with the narrator's style but listened to this right after listening to "Sense of the Ending" which has one of the best narrators ever. After a while, either I got used to it or he got into the flow better.
Many people love this book and my tastes are different than many, so see what I like or don't to see if this review applies to you.
This book takes the listener through Iranian history, proposing that the roots of problems between the US and Iran started with the overthrow of the popular leader, Mossadegh. Mossadegh was the first democratically elected leader of Iran. He was both idealistic and unyielding. Mossadegh nationalized the oil fields run by the Anglo-Iranian corporation, a forerunner of BP. Although many in the West could not understand his unyielding stance on this issue, the author presents facts to show that Iran benefited little from the oil that was taken from it, making it at least partially rational to withhold oil until when and if Iranians could run the oil fields.
Mossadegh was taken down by a coup led by the CIA, and initiated by the CIA agent, Roosevelt, grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.
The author is a writer for the NY Times. He investigates, as fairly as possible, the historical events for the events surrounding the coup and its aftermath. After listening to this book, I felt that I had a deeper, though still incomplete, understanding of Iran.
This book is written by an Iranian-American who works as a journalist. His family seems to be well connected as it is through some of these connections that he is able to interview several high ranking officials. His social group (perhaps obviously) is that of the upper middle class to upper class as they generally seem out of sync with the present regime which is supported by those from (apparently) lower classes.
These caveats aside, I found the descriptions of Iranian society, values, and cultural perceptions to be fascinating and feel that I now understand that country much better and that it would be enjoyable to visit. For those who have an interest in the Middle East or in Iran, this is certainly a worthwhile book and one that is likely to give more insight into how Iranians perceive the world than most other books.
This book initially seems to be the story of a love affair, which it is. But it is so much more than that as these two are caught up in a triangle that threatens a friendship and a marriage, affected by world events and impacted by religious beliefs and changing culture.
It also beautifully shows how a couple (or couples) can have an affair, or a marriage, that has a unity, but then each of them has his or her own life that impacts the relationship, often in a way that the other does not understand and often misinterprets.
I wish I had this book 15 years ago. It is written for those working in business, in a conservative environment, but some people were actually taught this and, if you don't know the rules, then you will make inadvertent errors. I would recommend this for anyone working in a professional or business environment. You might not obey the rules all the time, but it is nice to know what they are. I've been around long enough to recognize that what she says is true in many environments.
The author was trained or worked as an airplane or helicopter mechanic for several years before getting into flight safety full time. He describes the evolution of his awareness of flight safety and also the background of airplane crashes in which we was on the investigative team. If you are interested in airline safety or safety in general, this will be of interest to you. He does name names and complain about people in the industry, so he will make some enemies. He also seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but, if you can ignore that, this will be a fascinating read or listen.
This book is about all the ambiguities of life, of memory, of meaning in life. It is the kind of book that many say they need to read (listen to) twice. I did go back and listen to the beginning and will probably buy the print copy.
That said, it is worth it to buy the audio version because the reader, who was an award-winning actor, gives it something extra.
The first half of the story recounts various events from the narrator's life. In the second half, a former girlfriend and a document from his earlier life reappear. The former GF and he also share new events. The narrator then needs to reassess the meaning (or even veracity) of events as he remembered them against the new perspectives of an older person with evidence that these events did not really occur in the way he remembered.
This reminds me of Kundera and of Remains of the Day. If you liked those, you will probably like this. Otherwise, consider carefully. This book is not for everyone. If you prefer a strongly plotted novel, this may not be your cup of tea (or coffee for Americans).
The sad thing is to learn that the narrator has died.
This is a very unusual book that tells the story of a young man, from his start as an apparent orphan, though his manhood while living in North Korea where the political environment causes an altered reality. What is said is not true, but no one can discuss the truth. There are several narrators, all are unreliable. Along the way, one learns quite a bit about North Korea, at least what can be learned by one living outside that country.
Some characters have foreign accents, presumably Korean and this is problematic for some listeners, though I found it added to the authenticity of the book.
The lead character was the most memorable, but several others are unusual and interesting, such as the torturer. Evil people are not usually sympathetically portrayed, especially from their point of view and without excuses (for instance, there was no suggestion that this character had a bad childhood, at least in North Korean terms).
Listening to this book will help the listener understand current events in North Korea better. You will not forget this one.
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