Without question of the best audiobooks I've listened to, out of over 100 so far. An exploration of the decline in violence through human history, taking pains to make a coherent, substantive and well supported case for every assertion it makes. Detailed and technical without being dull, this book makes one of the best cases I can imagine for the general advancement of the species and the triumph of modernity. Exceptional.
I grabbed this book on a whim based mainly on the amusing title, and because I've been enjoying some linguistics podcasts lately. I thought this might be mildly interesting, informative, and since it's relatively short, it would be easy to get through. My only disappointment was that it was over so quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and find myself idly thinking about some of the points the author raises while going about my day to day business. Definitely worth the listen if linguistics, grammar or the history of language seem at all interesting to you. Well written, well narrated and much more interesting than this subject sounds like it will be.
I was ambivalent about this book until he started to get to technologies that I actually know something about, and then found myself shocked at how superficial and off the mark their treatment was. I actually strongly agree with the general thesis of this book, but they treat each individual technology they touch on as a done deal, something definite and inevitable.
I stopped listening to this book around 2/5ths of the way through, as I just couldn't listen any further. I believe the future is going to be brighter than many pessimists think, and I do believe that new technologies will solve many problems that appear to be intractable today, but I find their discussion to be too certain of which specific technologies will succeed, and too certain that ALL of our problems will be solved.
Would not recommend this book if you're looking for a serious treatment of a highly complex subject. Would recommend this book if you're looking for a superficial cheer-leading overview of a few specific technologies that may or may not pan out.
Outstanding over all, the narrator is excellent, and able to shift voice for different speakers without being distracting or annoying. The book itself is an excellent account of the fall of Berlin, and the most vivid that I've come across - bringing to life what is often a footnote or lone paragraph in more generally WWII books. Highly detailed without being plodding, dense or at all inaccessible, overall a must read for history fans.
I procrastinated listening to this for a while, but devoured it in less than a week once I started. Ansary reads his work well, the pace is fast enough to prevent sections from dragging, but he manages to fit in enough detail to tell the story. What makes this so interesting is that he is not trying to give a comprehensive, detailed account of history, and in some places, he's not even worried about accuracy, so much as he is trying to tell you the history and the stories that Muslims tell themselves. Well worth the listen.
I bought this in a fit of enthusiasm after hearing the recommendation on The History of Rome podcast. It languished in my library for over a year before I finally decided to listen. I genuinely enjoyed the story, learned more than I expected about ancient Greece and much to my surprise, found it more engaging and accessible than I'd expected. Definitely worth checking out for anyone at all interested in ancient Greece or ancient warfare.
Good book overall, a worthwhile look at the mental stumbling blocks that cause people to commit to counter-productive courses of action. I found the case he makes for each of his points interesting, and I was able to look at my own decision making in light of each of his points. I did find some of his made up words a little annoying, insisting on using "Cause-fusion" to refer to the confusion of causal relationships irritating, especially when it conjugated into other verb forms, "He was cause-fused..." I also found his example for the final chapter to be too mired in his own interests - as a blind person, he was clearly interested in the example of another blind person recovering part of his site, but the example ended up feeling somewhat contrived, and went on too long.
At its core, this is the history of Manifest Destiny in action. First, this is an outstanding book, and covers an arc of history of the American west spanning from the first decades of the 1800's to the end of the Civil War. The narration mainly follows the extraordinary life of Kit Carson, who managed to be at the center of an astonishing number of historical events in the west. The first act covers the early days of the west before modern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California were incorporated into the Union and the Santa Fe trail represented the limits of the frontier. It then follows the wars and annexation that consolidated the US's presence in the west, the establishment of the Oregon Trail and immigration that followed. The third act of the book focuses on the Navajo and the tragic attempt to settle them at Bosque Redondo, and this final part of the book is moving and tragic, but ends on a hopeful note. The narration is excellent, and although like many history books, it can feel a little slow at parts in the beginning, the pay off is definitely worth it.
Harold Lamb is a master who brings characters in history to life. While I preferred "Hannibal: One Man Against Rome", I found this to be an excellent book. History too often seems to pretend that central Asia doesn't exist and that the Romans were the only empire builders worth remembering. I knew nothing of the events and people described in this book before I listened to this book, and now wish to learn more.
Some people complain about the narration, although I'm not sure what they didn't like. Charlton Griffin does an excellent job and adds a dramatic flair to the reading that some seem to dislike. (What would they prefer, a dry recitation?)
My only complaint is that I still feel like I know too little. I'm so ignorant of the region and its history, that I struggled to tie the story to the modern world. I don't know if I could find Samarkand on a map, and didn't recognize half the place names he mentioned, even when he placed them "near modern wherever". But that is only a complaint of the scope of my ignorance of the region and its history, and not of the book itself.
I could devote paragraphs to gushing on the particulars but won't; this audiobook was excellent in every way that matters. The narrator is excellent, clear and compelling without being distracting. The subject itself is horrifyingly surreal and absolutely gripping.
This book really drove home how sophisticated social control and propaganda systems can be, and how effective they can be in controlling entire populations. It also drove home how important free speech and critical thinking really are to democracies. A must for understanding the humanity of the North Koreans and how an entire people could be held so firmly under the thumb of someone who shouldn't even rate as a plausible cartoon super-villain.
Absolute must listen.
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