This was a wonderful read for me. It is a refreshing treat to come across a telling of weight that offers the nonfiction reader a respite from of WW1 WW2 or the Cold War.
Taking place in that tumultuous time of the White Terror and the Red Menace in Russia, and located in an exotic setting to most, the author charts a logical and compelling course. He writes from a view point which focuses on the known facts and account while keeping the legend of his tale ever present for the reader to enjoy.
Although our protagonist is through and through an evil man we are allowed to follow his exploits without and overbearance of apology which I feel has become a vice of contemporary authors. The author conveys a comfort with his subject. Further accolades can be given to his attentiveness to sourcing his accounts and details with fluidity.
I never felt cheated of details from the setting nor overwhelmed with minutia.
A much deserved four star read.
The narration by several persons is haulting and would have been better served by a single narrator of even moderate performing skill.
There are too many voices saying about the same thing. If these were fused into a fluid narration the more poignant accounts could have held the book aloft. It is not altogether clear what conditions this book desires to focus on and when. It is split into sections rather than chapters of a single narrative. One section is discrimination while another some battlefield accounts, without a central theme drawing all together.
The voices simply do not fit the words that are read. I have a visceral knowledge of how black men from this generation speak. They talk with the words presented here, but their fluidity is lost to these bumbling narrators.
The way various histories (Suetonius in particular) were carefully joined into a good tale. It was both enjoyable and scary because...
One almost forgets that there is more than a little bit of fiction thrown in to this tale. However the author does a superb job of reminding us where we must accuire our discerning knowledge of history when he creates a scene in which Livy and Polybius contend for the honorific of being the prefered style of history and Polybius wins the argument due to the fact that, although he lacks some style, he is the most accurate.
I did not care for the sequel to this book "Claudius the God" because he goes a step to far with the artistic license and makes the protagonist such a menial character.
The narration is very poor these sound like the same guys audible used for the montford point marines book and I wish the would stop using these guys. They do not talk with fluidity.
The superficiality of this book is disappointing. They provide just enough info to keep your ear open in anticipation but it never transcends to the point of anything either sensational or truly insightful about the man.
The following is a small excerpt that tipifies the book for me:
MJ tells the goons they need to pick up the governess from the airport, and one of the goons asks if he meant nanny, MJ says "yes", goon says "why not just say nanny then," MJ says, "You guys need to read more."
They use this exchange to highlight MJ's disconnect. Then the goons talk about what incredibly loyalloyal goons the were, followed by how cute the kids were, and the book just spirals down the toilet in this fashion.
So there you have it, some guys that need to "read more" wrote a book, I think everyone should be alerted to this unadvertised paradigm before buying so you can really think about what that means.
The Narration: Seamless. The inflections and tenor of the narrator made this easily one of the most aesthetically enjoyable reads I can compare in my years listening to audio books.
The Content: Destined to Witness is a cradle to middle age narrative which is rich the experiences that men face growing up, which brings one close to the writer's experience. The story then begins to ascend like a roller coaster ticking up the first precipice; as the implications of the time and setting this man was born into reveal their eminence in history and set the stage for a great story.
I can pay no greater compliment than to say the emotions and thoughts conveyed in the book had me swaying like sports fan watching a live game in over time. For such a harrowing tale there is an uncanny optimism, as the writer does not shrink from expounding his good experiences in equal measure to his tribulations.
Over All: This is a story all should read, not simply for a wonderful message which will stimulate your thoughts, but because it is a great listen and well worth a credit at it's 19 hour running time which had me engrossed throughout.
This a history usually passed over in the history books as "Catholics vs Protestants" so when the chance to delve into the nuances of this historic Germanic conflict I jumped at the purchase; I was however disappointed.
C. V. Wedgwood has a good grasp of the events which transpired however she presents them in a disjointed fashion, changing her subject and setting often and needlessly. One is just beginning to grasps the intrigues between the Hapsburg when she begins droning about the protestant players. It is a style that is hard to follow.
There is also the perfunctory manner with which she endows the major protagonist of the war with character traits and personalities. There is a constant effort identify this who was the most ignorant general, who the most inconsiderate monarch and on, but these are things told to you rather than ideas explored an backed up with sources as it should be. After reading Barbara W. Tuchman, I know what a good history sounds like and this is not it in the slightest.
John Scalizi places his readers in the most fitting position from which to absorb this wonderfully complex world where humanity contends with the infinite challenges of a diverse and dangerous universe. In the mind of an old man you at once see the world through the eyes of someone who is able to accept even the most outlandish of encounters with an old subset of wisdom, allowing the reader to in kind absorb the strange world at a fast pace but with the comfort that you understand as much as the main subject who's perspective you read from.
The authorship is solid and I found myself feeling excitement, cheerfulness, suspense, loathing, and curiosity throughout the telling.
The performance leaves much to be desired. This narrator is consistently in the bad habit of interjecting the wrong emotions and inflections of the characters. He fails at grasping the colossal transformations the human subjects of the novel have been dealt by being made entirely anew through strange and complex processes outside their own understanding. Should cold blooded killing machines swoon with emotions? Should old men made young sound like old men still? these are the detraction's which leave me wanting more from the performance.
Overall this is a must read for sci fi fans.
Aptly tailored to be delivered in the oral tradition, Harold Lamb at once grasps your undying attention with this well polished work.
The performance is of the fantastic quality we have come to expect of Mr. Griffin, who's diction is at its best when strumming the chords of a well written epic tale such as this.
The key feature which makes this work exemplary is the seamless style with which ancient script, overlying theology, and modern historical knowledge meld to form a fluid history with a clear sense of its place in the ether.
The story its self is an amazing tale of a humble boy who launches himself into the select cast of rulers of which there are but few including Alexander the Great. Fighting in the style of those great barbarians who conquered Rome and enslaved China, Tamerlane leads armies over continental lengths against both the barbarous and most sophisticated of hosts. These campaigns culminate in an empire who's influence adds context to events of the middle ages and destiny of many nations.
aka: Anabasis, The Persian expedition, The Expedition of Cyrus
The Reading: Excellently done. Charlton Griffin is is prime form throughout this reading and conveys the tale flawlessly with a voice that confines perfectly to the dimensions of the setting; be they awesome or subdued in nature.
The Tale: A glorious epic of genuine human feats. Xenophon projects the march of this small city of 10,000 men across Asia minor into your mind and in front of your eyes. You are also made privy to the custom and psyche of an Athenian man of his time. Democracy and didactic reasoning is shown in practice throughout this tale and the mental images I envisioned while listening to this tale were vivid, easily conjured, and immensely entertaining.
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