In the Rising Tide, Jeff Shaara continues to chronicle the spectacle of American war. This time it’s WWII, from the front lines in North Africa through the invasion of Sicily to the buildup in England before Operation Overlord. He drops you right in the middle of the action, whether it’s through the eyes of a paratrooper, Sgt. Jesse Adams, or the future Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, you are there. The superb actor/reader, Larry Pine, does a phenomenal job with the many varied voices and accents. He is able to transport the listener through time, adding immeasurably to the ultimately satisfying listening experience. I eagerly await the next volume from Shaara. 5 stars.
Kalfus weaves a darkly hilarious tale of a dying marriage set post 9/11 against the backdrop of Ground Zero. I enjoyed the deliberate reading by James Boles, which sometimes added to the author's wry humor. The story of Marshall and Joyce's divorce strives for analogy, to depict a microcosm of the paranoid, intolerant, inept, and violent new order of the reawoken world. In many ways it succeeds, and in one scene in which a loosey-goosey house party morphs into an eerily creepy parody evocative of the terrible high jinks uncovered at Abu Graib Prison, it is jarringly affective. I recommend this audio book to any fans of say George Saunders, T. C. Boyle, et. al., who enjoy a hearty laugh at the expense of some serious material.
I have enjoyed the unabridged audio book version of Thunderstruck read by the actor Bob Balaban, although I couldn't honestly say if it would hold my interest as much in print. Balaban has a pleasant yet oddly flat delivery that does not distract from the narrative. This, the author's second book in which he utilizes the formula of juxtaposition - where two seemingly unrelated bits of history, one sensational, the other pivotal in scientific advancement, find a unifying thread - might just cement Larson into writing solely in this sub-genre of his own device. Since, for me, pure dry facts of history or science tend not to hold my attention for long, I sincerely hope this style blossoms, not only from Larson but from other history scholars hoping to actually make some serious somolians from their long hours of difficult research by squeezing just a tincture of creative pulp into their work. Who says history can't drop a dose of the good stuff and shake its booty once in a while?
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