This book has buried in it a very interesting story with tasty titbits of history, botany, psychology, general fun and beautiful language, but to get to those one needs to listen through mostly bland and always lengthy philosophical ramblings. I am all in favour of moulding the language into beautiful form for sheer listening pleasure, but in the case of, say, Bill Bryson - I want to rewind and listen again, while in this case I itch to hit fast-forward, but then I might miss the small tasty part in the middle, so I don't.
If only I could split this book into two parts - captivating story and boring philosophy, and listen to just the first one...
The narrator's performance is excellent, but I don't know how he managed to get through those passages without falling asleep, which makes it even more commendable.
I happened to start listening to this book after listening to a few of The Great Courses lectures on language by John McWorther, which were excellent - both interesting and entertaining.
This book, in comparison, sounds almost like a textbook on linguistics. The concepts a much belaboured on, with excruciating details of the experiments conducted, complete with tedious and long explanations of what it means; when most people would get it themselves early into the passage.
It felt to me more like a selective account of operations written as a book for enjoyment, rather than literary work, with plots, storyline, etc., but it was interesting and enjoyable regardless of that.
Many interesting anecdotes and details are mentioned, together with irrelevant to general reader squadron and air force numbers.
The book certainly helps appreciate the dangers and difficulties of operating WWII bombers.
When I tried to find out more about the episode in the book where a B-24 signalled surrender to escorting German fighters and then treacherously shot them out of the sky - I could only find a post by a former B-24 pilot saying that there was no evidence of it ever happening and explaining how the myth came about. I felt that the book was a bit under-researched.
I bet not many people know the history of drinks they have every day. The book is well structured with many fascinating and little known facts about most popular beverages. I you listen to a small random segment, you wouldn't know it is about beer/wine/etc. In short, the content is very interesting for those who like trivia, history and such. I couldn't believe how much the history of drinks was intertwined with general history.
Now about performance - there wasn't any. Just reading. I couldn't help thinking that the narrator ran a marathon after a few days of sleep deprivation before turning up to the recording studio. Eventually I got used to the monotonous and sleepy narration, but the book suffered from the "performance".
I had to psyche myself up for a 57 hour listen, but there was no need to - once started, I just couldn't stop. Everyone knows (or should know) the basic history of WWII, but this book is so rich with fascinating details, episodes, personality portraits, etc. that it sounds nothing like a history textbook.
The narration style is such that the story just effortlessly unfolds, and I was hanging on to every word, rewinding if I didn't couldn't hear a sentence or a phrase.
The narrator's performance is brilliant, I could "hear" words in quotes and the mood was well represented.
The whole 57 hours felt like an adventure story, replete with moments when history could have taken a different turn, if only...
No, because I would know what happened and this book reads like a good detective story that should not be spoiled.Also, it made me angry in many places, for good reason.
The episode that describes the rivalry between SEC regional offices and accompanying complete lack of any care on SEC part. I couldn't believe it was real.
Real recording of New York senator (or congressman?) grilling SEC reps at the hearing.
At the beginning the book felt a bit like author was settling old scores, but that feeling evaporated after the episode when one of the people well described in the book committed suicide.
Frequently through listening to the book I couldn't help thinking:
Even if you watched "13 Days" (I did, and liked it), listen to this book. It has accurate, well researched account of events, some less known facts and very little idle speculation.
The historical facts are presented well, with just enough details to keep the listener interested, and the narration is superb.
It was an interesting and intriguing experience.
Author made a commendable effort to make complex scientific concepts easy to understand. I didn't feel like I was listening to a boring biology or nutrition textbook. There is a bit of drama, a few stories here and there and generally the book is interesting.
I am not an expert on the subject, but I like reading about science etc., and to my knowledge the book makes sense - human bodies evolved to handle certain foods, those bodies are complex organisms rather than simple objects governed by laws of physics, etc.
The not so good:
When author presented the evidence in support of a concept, I felt a bit bored after exhibit C, but it would go on to exhibit D, E, F and on and on. I could not (be bothered to) verify the evidence anyway, so two or three pieces of evidence was enough for me to trust the author.
This is not a diet book, it has no recipes or comprehensive lists of foods, it just explains things, and does it well - which is just what I wanted.
This is a very interesting attempt to make a book on mathematics - a story in a style of
Although I am all in favour of math books without formulae, sometimes just a bare minimum is needed to illustrate a point. But how does one do it in an audio book? I found it a bit hard to follow some of the examples. Simple ones I could manage by drawing in my head, but with more complex ones I got quickly lost.
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