Mann and Ornstein have done the country a great service with this book. I follow politics relatively closely and there were some eye-openers for me in this thoughtful and well-written book. While it is not a surprise that both Mann and Ornstein (a liberal and conservative) share a common view about just how seriously dysfunctional the federal government is, what is a surprise is that they place most of the blame squarely on the extremism in the Republican party. They note that Republican extremism is not directed toward advancing their policies so much as toward advancing personal interest of their leaders or the political (not ideological) interests of their party. Multiple examples of how Republicans in the Senate have used the filibuster and other parliamentary tools to delay votes on bills or on appointments - taking up huge amounts of valuable time that should be spent on the important business of the country - that ultimately passed with votes along the lines of 95-2. What could the point of this be? Only to make the government and the majority party look ineffective. Shame on the Republicans.
Mann and Ornstein offer a variety of ideas to address the problems.They look for ideas that have been tried around the world but they have been in this business for a long time and have a clear-eyed view of what is likely to fly in the U.S. and what probably won't. They propose a range of ideas that can at least begin to counter the Republican's "gum up the works" efforts.
I picked up this book at Audible about a month ago and now have the entire series. They have been hard to put down because they have a plausible premise that is extremely well executed by the author. The premise: a ship captain who was presumed killed after a heroic battle at the beginning of a war that still continues 100 years later and who has been built up as a mythic hero over those years "returns from the dead" (in a reasonably plausible way, given the genre).
The hero is Captain John “Black Jack" Geary. He has been discovered in the long lost escape capsule he used as his ship was destroyed at the end of the now famous battle. The capsule has kept him in suspended animation for 100 years.
He returns to a world that is dramatically different from the one he left. 100 years of war have made casual brutality commonplace and all important decisions of the fleet are voted on by the commanders of the fleet. Black Jack’s return is certainly timely and possibly even providential. It occurs just as the fleet admiral leaves to discuss the terms of the fleet’s surrender. It seems the “Alliance" (his side of the war) has taken a risky bet to win the war and has lost the bet. The admiral’s last act is to appoint Jack as fleet commander (he thinks of Jack as a hero too, Jack does not think of himself that way) should he not return from the discussions, which, as you should expect, he does not.
Everything that flows this set of event - the struggles to get the fleet back from behind enemy lines, the envy and suspicion of Jack by other officers, etc., - make sense to me as do the changes the author describes as having happened over the past 100 years. The battle scenes are exciting and realistically written. The interpersonal relationships and how they evolve make sense. If you want Tolstoy, get War and Peace. If you want a really nifty piece of military sci-fi adventure, this is a good place to start and you won't go wrong with the rest of the series either.
In addition to a good story, I thought the performance by Mr. Rummel was nicely done.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. Quite a lot happens to our "heroes" Royce and Hadrian (who happen to be very good thieves). They take on a job that sounds too good to be true and without even knowing it quickly get scooped up in a plot to kill the King. The plot succeeds and King is murdered. Suddenly Royce and Hadrian aren't thieves, they are assassins, caught and to be painfully executed the next day. The King's daughter, Princess Arista, who loved him greatly and was not involved in the murder, plots to release the assassins and have them kidnap her brother. Before you know it a monastery is destroyed, a magician known to have terrible power is unchained, people die in gruesome ways and some mysteries (big and little) are solved while new ones arise. This barely scratches the surface of a nicely complicated plot (that is still a fairly easy listen) in which our heroes take most events with good sense, great ability and an entertaining if not yet fully revealed relationship. If you want your fantasy books to reveal some deep truth or to bubble over with magic, this book probably won't do it for you. But if you want an entertaining read with two enjoyable rogues and a bit of magic, this is a fine place to stop.
Chris Hayes is very bright and I really enjoyed this book. He has many keen insights on just how a system seemingly based on merit has dug us into a whole that looks pretty tough to get out of at this moment. I didn't mind Hayes' narration of the book, but he would have done himself and the book a favor by getting a professional. I think he was trying to emulate Rachel Maddow's success in narrating her brilliant work, Drift, but he just didn't pull it off.
I have several hundred audio books in a wide range of areas in my Library and I have enjoyed almost every one of them. I am a certified soft touch as a listener and reviewer. So here is the bad news. This is the only book out of the hundreds that I disliked enough not to finish. I should have been the target audience for this book (seven kids in the family). Instead I found the book to be simplistic, mostly wrong and excruciatingly dull.
By way of background, I have several hundred audio books in a wide range of areas in my Library. It is a pretty eclectic collection and I have enjoyed almost every one of them so I am, no doubt, a soft touch as a listener and review. I am deeply thankful for the reviewers who have the time, energy and ability to write thorough and insightful reviews. Sadly that is not me. What I can say is that I liked Stuff. It held my attention and I learned considerably more than I thought I would about a not so small part of our world. By the way, the narrator was excellent. It was well worth the credit.
Top 5 political books.
I enjoy Maddow on MSNBC but the subject of this book didn't sound that compelling to me. Boy was I wrong. This was a thought provoking analysis of how the U.S.'s "drift" into becoming a military/industrial state happened (power grabbed by the executive branch) and how it has harmed us. Ms. Maddow is a superb narrator and she is funny too, which is handy given what might otherwise have been a tedious subject.
Maddow's ongoing discussion of General Abrams (he commanded military operations in Vietnam from 1968-72) and his idea of how to avoid giving the President the ability to easily enter into future wars by forcing the President to call up the National Guard was something I wasn't aware of. It was a stroke of genius and I was surprised at how perceptive Abrams was. Too bad the idea didn't work longer.
I enjoyed the story, but I thought the narrator was the best part of this audiobook. I have over 700 audiobook in my library here at Audible and have listened to many, many audiobooks. Experience has taught me what a good narrator does to bring a story to life. Ms. Ikeda did a remarkable job narrating this book. There was never a moment when I didn't know which character was speaking and she conveyed the feelings of the characters (e.g., fatigue, fear, joy) very nicely. I was not expecting this book to be a romance novel and it dances around being one (romance novels are not my thing). Ms. Harkness seemed unsure of what genre she was writing in and as a result, the romance/sexual part of the story was rather juvenile. It would be a better story if the entire book was written for adults. Even so, I was entertained and that is what I look for in fiction. I enjoyed the history and didn't mind the detailed exposition that seemed so disturbing to some reviewers. As I said, romance novels aren't my thing. There is one semi-romance novel (Diana Gabaldon's Outlander) that Ms. Harkenss could take a lesson from because it drew me into the story in a way that was similar to what the author tried to do here (albeit Outlander did it far more successfully). The romance/sexual element of Outlander was an intriguing part of the reason why I enjoyed that listen. Perhaps Ms. Harkness might consider strengthening that element of her next book since it is now a part of her tale.
I could not stop listening. What a great story.
Whether you like him or not, his speech is thoughtful, perceptive and humorous. If his book is anywhere this good (and I hope he is the reader), it should be fascinating.
Report Inappropriate Content