I initially purchased this book as a result of my budding interest in the bubonic plague and the devestation it brought to Europe in the middle of the fourteenth century. What I got, however, was a tour de force. This book is an amazing work of scholarship. The plague years, though thoroughly discussed, warrant only a chapter in what could arguably be called the most turbulent, violent and terrifying hundred-year span in human history. So bad were these years that they make the past century look like a vacation to Disneyland. War, disease, death, rape, slaughter, indignity, religious turmoil, gang violence -- all were present in the fourteenth century to degrees unimaginable today. And yet humanity survived. Ms. Tuchman's research is astounding -- more than once it will leave you shaking your head and thinking, "Where did she find that?" -- and her words are brought to vibrant life by the incomparable Nadia May. But be warned -- this is not an undertaking for the timid. It's a long journey through a hundred years, and Ms. Tuchman pays homage to minutiae. She ties it all together nicely by focusing primarily on the life of French nobleman Enguerrand VII de Coucy, whose adventures spanned the most important events of the century, but she takes a lot of detours. If you're curious about the middle ages, though, and you're looking for detail, this is the place to start. You'll never look at your own time the same way again.
Dunstan and Williams have approached an intriguing idea in a most unintriguing way. Did Hitler escape to Argentina in 1945 with the help of Martin Bormann? He could have. But there are too many holes in the Dunstan and Williams narrative to make an enlightened case. Specifically, they spend half the book dwelling on WWII history, which is time they could have spent proving their case. There is precious solid evidence here. If Hitler died in Argentina, where's the body for DNA testing? If he had daughters, where are they or their bodies for DNA testing? Ditto Eva Braun. And then there's the fact that the body of Martin Bormann, Hitler's major domo who was supposedly tooling around South America for years after the war, was actually unearthed years after WWII in Berlin, right around the spot a witness saw him die in May 1945. Dunstan and Williams never address that fact. One can only assume that they avoided it because they didn't have a good response. Relegate this one to fiction. It's too sloppy to be a credible work of scholarship.
I live in Massachusetts, which is the epicenter for all things environmentally-alarmist. Thus, I found Mr. Horner's book a refreshing counterbalance to the Cambridge crowd who will have you believe that "the debate over global warming is over." On the contrary, the debate over global warming is so far from over as to be in its infancy, and as Mr. Horner points out, anyone who will tell you otherwise simply pursues emotion over reason. Like our reviewer below from Apex, North Carolina. He/she has gathered emotion and jumped to the conclusion that Mr. Horner is a shill for the oil companies without applying any reason to the science and multifaceted arguments he presents. Sounds like talking-point character assassination, if you ask me. But then again, it's exactly what to expect from an irrational enviromentalist who thinks the debate is over; they do it all the time, especially to anyone who challenges them. You know, the Catholic Church once thought the debate over the origin of the universe was over, too, and look where that got them. Download this book and listen to it with an open mind. You will find some interesting insights in it. And you may just realize that there's nothing to be worried about: We're simply living within the ebb and flow of a climate which is, was and always will be in a constant state of flux.
Full disclosure: I'm an Episcopalian who has always doubted the divinity of Jesus. Call me irrational, but I find more inspiration in the historical Jeshua the Nazarene than the Jesus created by Paul, and later the Romans, to further personal agendas. Thus, this book amazed me. Told like a old-fashioned detective thriller, it presents its findings concisely and with conviction. As one reviewer notes, it is impossible to say whether or not the tomb in question held the remains of the actual Jeshua the Nazarene, but the theories are plausible, the evidence adds up, and for those of you who seek the Jesus of history, you may just find this title more inspiring than a church service.
After enjoying Moneyball so much, with its amazing human portraits placed against the tableau of baseball, I had some doubts that Michael Lewis could duplicate such quality with The Blind Side. And while The Blind Side may not garner as much attention as Moneyball, or the sizzle that book generated, it is every bit its equal, and perhaps even better. A fascinating (almost incomprehensible) story for our age, Lewis has actually managed to make the left tackle position in football interesting. Have you tried watching left-tackle play during a game? It's only effective when it's dull. Lewis, however, peels back the layers of its intricacy, in the process showing us why people like Michael Ohre and the Tuohy family are so remarkable. Even if you don't like football, you'll enjoy this book.
There are seven indisputable technical errors in this audiobook: two in the first download; two in the second; and three in the third. However, they happen so fast and are so quickly corrected that you won't even linger on them. I resisted downloading this book for a week because of the previous reviews, but I have to say now that I'm so glad I bought it. It is, quite simply, a remarkable work, one that will grab you by the guts and drag you along. To say that there are "50" errors, as a previous reviewer stated, is hyperbole. The reader does pause occasionally, but none of those pauses lasts for more than three seconds, and they certainly don't affect the experience. If you download DisneyWar, you won't be disappointed.
God knows I've been hard on narrator Michael Prichard in the past. In one review, I referred to him as reading like he'd graduated from the Snidely Whiplash School of Acting. After listening to him for twenty-plus hours on "The Fabric of the Cosmos", I nearly wanted to shoot myself. But when a man is owed his due, a man is owed his due, and on "Shadow Divers," Michael Prichard was the best and only choice to offer his unique vocal style to this unbelievable story.
The story itself needs no further comment from me. Just look at the other reviews -- it's a blockbuster. Whether you're into diving (I'm not), or World War II history (I am) or you just love a tight, well-told, edge-of-your-seat drama, you'll love this book. Author Robert Kurson is so on top of his skills that "Shadow Divers" never strikes a wrong note. And the reading by Michael Prichard adds amazing life to the tale.
Trust me on Prichard, I've had some experience with him, so I can tell you that once you get into his style, you'll appreciate him. I didn't at first; now I do. I'm even planning to download another of his narrations right after I finish this. My only concern is, after listening to "Shadow Divers," how can any other story measure up?
Chances are, if you're even looking into this book, then you have the proper strength of interest in cosmology to sustain you through this very complex topic. Greene, as he revealed in his PBS series "The Elegant Universe," is part Carl Sagan and part P.T. Barnum, but he's all brilliant. He would have been a wonderful choice to narrate this production, someone to keep it intersting. Instead, we get Michael Pritchard, who seems to have honed his voice-over talent at the Snidely Whiplash School of Acting. Trust me, he will get on your nerves in a hurry, especially when he mispronounces common words, like "Cos-muss" for "Cosmos." To support what the reviewer says below, listen to a sample of the book before committing to it. If you can stand Pritchard, you'll learn a lot of stuff you didn't know about space, time, string theory and alternate dimensions, just to name a few. But if you can't stand him, nobody will blame you. Twenty-two hours is a long time to spend with Snidely Whiplash.
Perhaps it's because I'm an IT guy, but I found this story fascinating, especially since I field questions on Google with regularity. As much a Google User Guide as a history of the most successful search engine of our time, the true remarkability of this story is that it just happened. As you listen, you'll find yourself thinking, "What was I doing with my time while Brin and Page were changing the world?" And if you're like me, you'll say, "Apparently nothing of consequence." Then you'll chastise yourself for your lack of vision. But it's all in good fun, and Battelle does an amazing job at peeling back the layers of two young geniuses who are intensely private in their pursuit of excellence. All-in-all, an excellent study of the Internet at its adolescence. Highly recommended. Especially for IT people.
In an age of plug-in refrigeration, it's easy to forget just how vital salt was to the preservation of food in a pre-electricity world. Thankfully, Kurlansky explains it all. The author paints with a big brush here (history, economics, nutrition, engineering, chemistry, sociology), so if you download, prepare yourself for an epic ride through all things salt, and on every level. The recipes do get a bit tiresome, but Kurlansky always has a point, even if he seems to be going off on a tangent. In the end, he'll tell you a lot of things you didn't know, and some things you never suspected. Great structure, amazing research, excellent Scott Brick narration. I'm just waiting for the sequel on Pepper. If Kurlansky can bring life to a substance as staid as salt, just think of what he could do with something that has a little more kick to it.
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