All the terrific anecdotes about how the Americans interact with the Europeans. And the hilarious problems with language and guides.
How they would rename all their guides to "Fergusen"
Hadn't heard him before but he was wonderful.
For anyone who thinks Mark Twain is just Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, they should listen to this book. It is just wonderful. And tells you a lot about life in the 19th Century.
I have listened to every one of Bryson's audio books here on Audible.com.
I really like Bryson. He makes even the most mundane topics engrossing.
And it's not that he completely hates America. A Short Walk where he talks about hiking the Appalacian Trail is wonderful and very positive.
But in this early book his nastiness on American is not just palpable, it's suffocating.
In addition, instead of Bryson's warm, folksy reading that I have come to enjoy, William Roberts's reading makes even warm thoughts on America come out snide and snarky.
I pushed myself to listen to the whole thing so I would feel entitled to write a review.
But if I could, I would have rewound the tape to erase it from my brain.
I'm so glad I didn't stumble on this book as my first Bryson. What a nasty, arrogant, bigoted, nasty (did I already say nasty?), smarmy man wrote this book. If this had been my first Bryson book I would never have bought another.
Bryson, originally from Iowa, came back to America after two decades living in England and decides to drive around. Everything he sees, and everywhere he goes disappoints him. Food is greasy, gooey blobs that squirt all over him. Towns are drab, dreary, or filled with tourist attractions that are overpriced and not at all good.
Bryson tells us about his father and mother driving him and his siblings around when they were young. Bryson's father is a dolt going to the worst of the worst state parks and attractions along their trips. Bryson even manages to make his mother, a saintly woman who never criticizes Bill, into a stupid woman and a doormat. If I were Bryson's family and read this book, I would have told Bill to never get within 500 miles of the family and to change his name so no one would know they are related.
Don't like the tone of this review? That's because I just finished the audio book and I've got his nasty attitude ringing in my ears.
Unlike most of the Bryson books I've read, where Bill is the narrator, this book is narrated by William Roberts. Roberts sounds like a cross between a carney huckster and a school yard bully. I kept thinking that most of the nastiness would have been ameliorated had Bryson been the narrator. ... But I doubt it. Williams does nothing to make the book less nasty. But I suspect he was reflecting the nasty attitude in the book.
Read any other Bryson book written after 2000. Bill's a much nicer man then.
I bought two Daisy Dalrymple books hoping for something as good as Kerry Greenwood;s Phryne Fisher mysteries. I was quite disappointed.
The book cover would have you believe Daisy is similar to Phryne with short, bobbed, black hair. But that is hardly how she is described. And there is none of the decco air shown on the cover. Instead the characters are horribly 19th Century stuffy.
The mystery is convoluted and I found myself not really caring who the murderer was.
But without giving away the plot, I was horribly disappointed with the ending. This is NOT the way an amateur detective is supposed to behave. And it is NOT the way a Scotland Yard inspector would behave.
It was hard for me to start the second book as I couldn't trust Daisy's behavior.
Meanwhile, the narrator's breathy style is unnerving. And she has given Daisy a very little girl voice. With no feeling of being a grownup.
I'm giving up on the series.
I started listening to the Phryne Fisher mysteries after watching the television series on Netflix. I was disappointed to find out the series was cancelled.
So I decided to listen to the books.
I'm up to book 17 and expect to finish the series in a month or so.
The books are different from the TV shows, but not disappointing. The stories are complex and fun. Phryne is more sexual than the TV show and travels all around Australia.
The narrator, Stephanie Daniels, is one of the best I've ever listened to. She does so many variations of English dialects: cultured British, Australian, Cockney, Irish, Scottish, the insanely difficult Welsh, as well as a myriad of Russian, Polish, Austrian, German, French, and (gasp!) even Yiddish!
The books, especially Ms. Daniels, have done something I never would have expected—gotten me to forget losing the TV series.
I'm posting this in the first book because I can't be expected to keep writing the same review for all the books in the series.
(PS: I'm such a nut for the series that my phone ringtone is the first few bars of the TV show theme.)
I was hoping for a study of the various literature of utopian societies: Brave New World, 1984, Shangri-la, etc.
Instead this is a study of philosophers comments and debates on utopia.
It's interesting, but not what I wanted.
The sub-head "How we know what's really true" led me to believe the book would be about how to refute and rebut arguments from the religious right on the validity of the Bible, etc.
Instead it's a rather dull science textbook written for pre-teenagers.
And unfortunately the woman's voice and intonation makes it seem that she is speaking to someone who doesn't understand English.
I like Hawkins, but not this.
It's not a terrible book, but not great. But I spent a long time at the top of the book trying to understand why FBI agents always carried 20 quarters for pay phones. And no one seemed to include Reagan as part of Presidential assasination history.
God, things have really changed since 1977. And much of the book feels dated because of it. Even the plot against the President is dated.
Also, I wish someone was a little more careful with details of the recording. Senator Birch Bayh name was pronounced "Bye" not "Bay."
McWhorter is one of the best teachers I have ever had.
Energetic. Funny. Spontaneous! Educational!
Even if you never wanted to learn about the English language, you should listen to this book.
There are so many things in it about history, social history, language (of course), and grammar.
And I will try to use the phrase "obsessive progressive" as much as I can in daily life. (You'll understand when you listen to the book.)
Please, don't let the fact that this is a language course stop you. It's well worth every minute. (Although I confess I listen at 1.5 speed, but his voice doesn't suffer.)
Anyone who enjoys bill Bryson will enjoy Professor McWhorter
From the first sentence, this book hooked me in.
Disney's life and struggle to succeed is fascinating.
What I really appreciated was reading how he ran his company. He pushed his employees, artists and animators, to do more than they thought they could do.
He also started the company with pool tables, fun events, and other diversions.
I was surprised at this. In so many descriptions of how he ran the company, it sounded like the genius and drive of Steve Jobs combined with the fun of Google's offices.
It made me realize that today's pioneers sometimes ride down the same road already paved in the past.
Get the book. Listen to it. You'll never look at "the mouse" the same way again.
Pure fluff. Pure diversion. Pure entertainment.
The mix of aliens and cut-throat lawyering makes this the best Sci-Fi I've read in a long time.
Think all the fun of Douglas Adams's Hitchiker's Guide
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