This history of three famous personas is interesting, but the author goes a bit too far at times in attributing thoughts and feelings to the characters. Sometimes it's armchair psychology (e.g., the feelings of Billy Burns' son Raymond with respect to his father), sometimes it's just stretching to make the characters seem more real. The author also makes excuses for the womanizing of Darrow, as if to make him a more sympathetic character, but not for Griffin. So we get more than history in the author's attempt to make this an interesting read.
But whether you think the story is interesting or not, you will have to get used to the narrator's style. If you listen to the Audible edition of the NY Times, you may have a sense of this style -- like he's reading the news. Every once in a while, he throws in a slight bit of emotion or accented speech, but it's pretty blase. Nothing personal -- just that I have gotten used to some very talented narrators here on Audible and this didn't come close. It makes it harder to pay attention to what he's reading.
The history presented in this story of three southern African Americans was obviously well researched. The narrative intersperses personal stories from oral histories of the three protagonists with what is known from other histories and research. You end up with a very believable and nuanced understanding of what life must have been like for African Americans after the Civil War, how hard it must have been to migrate away from family and home, and how difficult life was in the cities of the north and the west. While life was clearly difficult, the story is like-life, with happy times and sad times, so it's not depressing. The three main characters are multidimensional, warm, and real. Their own words are used in the story -- and the narrator makes every effort to pronounce them as they actually did. She's so good with the southern accents that you feel like the characters are really the ones speaking. It makes you think that perhaps the narrator listened to actual recordings to make sure that the emotions and dialects were correct. The narration is fantastic, speaking in everyday language for the characters and more scholarly-sounding language when presenting findings from other studies.
My only criticism: the author added a bit of unfounded interpretation at the very end, doing psychological analyses of the characters that was unfounded. This is an extremely minor point -- I couldn't wait to do my exercise every day so that I could get my dose of this amazing listen.
What do I know about the lost cowboy days? I can't tell if this story is realistic or not, but it doesn't matter. It's about a young man who chases an imagined lifestyle, perhaps because his mother has abandoned him and sold his home, and his father is dying. There's no reason to stay. The events that happen are written realistically, the feelings the young man have are both realistic and realistically communicated between them, and the characters are sympathetic. I ended up liking this a lot, though I feared I wouldn't. The narrator seems right for the story, though extending words to increase emotion doesn't work so well.
Note: I did not like The Road and while No Country for Old Men is interesting, it's much too dark for me. All the Pretty Horses, though, has a kind of hopefulness that it's hard not to get caught up in. I am not reading the others in the series, though, because I read that they get darker.
The characters are not developed; one is inconsistent (Eddie) Their stories are uninteresting. Boring things happen to boring people. Then they celebrate.
This could have been an interesting read about foreigners' experiences of India and life of the underclass in India. But this thing drags on and on and on, as though the author just can't let go of the book and needs to keep adding implausible subplots. And if you don't like listening to philosophizing, just say no.
Perhaps some interesting ideas, even for statisticians, who know that probability is the best we can do -- that is, a good reminder. However, it's hard to hear what the author is saying through his snide, smarter-than-you attitude. It's too bad his insecurities stand out more than his intelligence.
Sax presents evidence in a "hit or miss" way. Some of what he has to say is well supported in the literature (e.g., girls lose confidence more quickly than do boys), while other statements are presented without any evidence. When Sax does present studies, he never tells us the number of subjects in any given study nor whether the subjects were selected randomly or other ways of controlling experiments (including keeping subjects from behaving in ways they perceive the experimenter wants them to behave); what is more, the "findings" are presented as if all subjects behaved in a certain way, which is surprising, given that most experiments tell us about likelihood, not certainty. A great deal of the evidence Sax presents is based on studies of animals, showing his implicit assumption that humans evolved from and therefore behave like primates. Unfortunately, Sax does not explain reasons why the reader should accept the analogies. He often presents some study of primates or other animals, then extends a generalized claim about females and males or about human females and males specifically. It ends up casting doubt on everything he says. Nor does Sax make a distinction most scientists make: gender is a sociocultural phenomenon, and sex biological.
This is not to say that gender does not matter nor that Sax gives bad advice. It is just that the advice pretends to be drawn from scientific evidence or as unsupported extensions of other arguments (e.g., boys get a thrill from violent video games; Sax himself played two different games; therefore you should accept his experience with the games as representative of all people's experience and further, you should not allow your child to play the type where it's okay to kill off civilians at will -- note that he also ignores alternative explanations for the "thrill," such as simply violating social norms). Perhaps there are numerous footnotes in the text version that an audiobook does not present.
If you want already have some basic knowledge of Swedish and just want to hear Swedish phrases and try to get the pronunciation down, this is a good listen. This could be improved by providing a list of phrases somewhere so that one can also see the letters and spelling (otherwise, when you see a word, you have no idea which pronunciation you should use or how it relates to something you heard in the book). However, repeating words and attempting to memorize them just isn't helpful for learning basic Swedish. It's context independent, so except for a few terms, like please and thank you, you won't know which situations make sense for which words. And given a lack of situation, you won't necessarily remember any of it, since learning takes place in contexts. This could be improved, for example, by having a narrator describe a situation in which you might use these terms, like "you are in a restaurant ordering herring" or the likie. Finally, some of the words are ones that you won't imagine ever using under any circumstances.
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