This audiobook annoyed me too many times. It's a neat idea for a story, but I couldn't stand the combination of Card's sometimes tedious dialogue and the monotonous, unchanging pacing of the narrator's reading. Whether it's violent action or casual conversation, the narrator never seems to alter his pace or tone (at least not in the first half of the book, which is all I listened to). I have to mention one particular scene that simply bugged me: a guy is shooting at one of the protagonists with a shotgun, and the guy being shot at evades the shot by simply jumping in the air, the shot missing him between his legs. I'm sorry, that's just stupid. Not altogether impossible I suppose, but stupid nonetheless.
The one star is for the book. The narrator gets five.
I would only recommend this book to fans of the television show for the sake of hearing the narration by Mr. Barrie, which is the best reading of a fictional work I have heard, in terms of acting skill. He precisely impersonates the other actors he starred with on the BBC program. It is truly impressive.
But I found the story to be a disappointment, so I wouldn't recommend this one to those unfamiliar with the show.
Hitchens excels at raking religion and faith over the coals, explaining why faith is not only irrational but irresponsible and immature. However, he does not attempt to explain in depth what it is that should replace a person's faith as a source for morality and "spirituality". Fortunately, for that, one need only read Ayn Rand's books. All the necessary answers are to be found there. In fact, you can skip the Hitchens and go straight to the Rand if you want to save time. She dispels faith better than even Hitchens can imagine.
This is a rare case where the book is not better than the film. If you enjoyed the film (which I did), you might still like the book, but be warned that the book is quite different in a couple of major ways. It's a very slow moving story (in the book), and it doesn't help in this case that the narrator reads it at a slow, deliberate pace. It's a matter of taste, I know, but I did not care for the narrator of this title. Some of the voices he affected for a few characters were downright annoying. Fortunately, he does not adopt such voices for any of the primary characters. Not a waste of time, but not as good as I had hoped, based on the movie.
Generally a very slow moving, dull tale. Ward does what to me is her usual fair job of reading. I think I can say, without spoiling the ending, that you won't like the way this one ends if you're an advocate of a little thing called Justice. A disappointing book for me in just about every way.
This was a nice, brief overview of what has transpired so far in the Battle of Iraq. It starts with a general review of the middle-eastern region, not too detailed but a bit tedious nonetheless trying to follow who took over and was then killed by whom and so on and on; then it goes into a not too detailed personal history of the big dirtbag himself, Saddam Hussein (who revered Stalin), and his path of thuggery and murder, and ultimate grabbing of power. Then the battle itself is related, all the way into Baghdad, and how this campaign differed from the Gulf War of 1991. Schwarzkopf is compared to Franks.
A couple of events after that point are discussed, e.g. the British scientist-scholar who ultimately committed suicide after revealing that he had "sexed up" some intelligence reports.
Since you're probably wondering: Keegan makes it clear that he supports the war, though if I recall correctly, not until the end of the book, so the bulk of the book is not explicitly pro-war, it's just a chronological recounting of events.
Another enjoyable Cadfael-mystery, and I think Johanna Woodward did a better job of reading this time than she did for the first book in the series. Still, it's too bad Derek Jacobi apparently only reads the abridged versions.
First of all, to address the main question you probably have: no, there is no music in this work. It's all Mr. Plotkin talking. And I can't say he is particularly good at it, but that's perhaps not an objective observation. His speaking might not bother everyone. At any rate, he doesn't just talk about music, he talks about how to listen to it, some of the performers, some of the pieces of music and their composers, etc., and he speaks like you expect most professors to speak: as if everyone is a complete dummy. But then, to be fair, it is called Classical Music "101", so perhaps I was expecting too much. If you know anything at all about classical music, I do not recommend this item. I suppose there's nothing wrong with it if you are truly new to it though.
It's a matter of subjective, asthetic taste, but I don't care for the reading of the narrator, Johanna Ward. I found her reading to be too stiff, almost shrill at times. She has a very hard, piercing voice. Like so many British performers, she comes across as rather "Shakespearean", and I don't think that fits these stories. At any rate, like I said, that's a matter of taste, and it's not like it ruins the story, which is very good. I rated this four stars, knocking off one for Ms. Ward's performance. It's not a deal-breaker.
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