This is the story of Franz Stigler, a German fighter pilot and Charlie Brown a B17 Eighth Air Force pilot. It is the fascinating story of how their lives intersected in December 1943 permanently altering their lives. I found this an emotional book with a similar effect on me as Laura Hildebrand's "Unbroken". It left me feeling good about people. Most of the book is about Franz Stilger's life as a child, young man and pilot commercial then military. He was a German ace and later flew the jet planes over Germany. It also covered the men of the B17 and then their hunt for each other after the war. I noted that long after the war the crew of the B17 "Ye Old Pub" received their metals- Brown, the Air Force flying Cross and the silver star for each of the crew making them the highest decorated B17 crew. Adam Makos is the editor of the military magazine Valor and came across this story during interviews with WWII pilots. He brought to life the story of a man, the air battles, the thrill of flying and the fear of living in Nazi Germany. I am sure glad he wrote the story as a book. Robertson Dean did a great job reading this book. This book is not only for us WWI and WWII history buff but for any teen or adult that is looking for a good story with moral value.
This book is almost entirely focused on California, with a bit of discussion about other great quakes in world history. It is lucidly written and easily understandable to the lay person. The book covers both the geology of the San Andreas Fault and the history including such people as Grover Gilbert, Harry Fielding Reid who studied the 1906 San Francisco quake. Andrew Larson a geology professor at the University of California Berkeley who named the San Andreas Fault in 1895. Of course, Charles Richter who developed the eponymous magnitude scale was discussed in detail. Dvorak describes the history of all the known California quakes but goes into great detail about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. He explains the 1960 discovery of plate tectonics and how that brought better understanding to the geology of California and the understanding of earthquakes. He almost makes a guide to where to go and what to look at along with what is the meaning of what you are looking at along various site of the San Andreas Fault. He gives a description how the San Andreas Fault works and how other fault secondary fault lines develop. He states that the San Andreas Fault and its many subsidiary faults are tearing California apart. He says geological California has been in a quiet time for quakes but according to past history this is going to change. Dvorak apparently worked for the U.S. Geological Survey. Overall I found this to be a most fascinating book. Malcolm Hillgartner did a great job narrating the book.
I listen to the New York Times book review podcast and they said that as soon as “Concealed in Death” was released it went straight to number one on the NY times best seller list for fiction. This book is a bit different from the other books in the series as it deals with a cold case. This is the first time Eve has been on a cold case. It also means this book is less tech-y and more about traditional police work. The book starts with Roarke swinging a slug hammer into a wall and uncovering 12 skeletons of teenage girls who died 15 years ago. The building once contained a shelter for trouble teens. Roarke industries have purchased the old building and were in the processes of doing a remodel/rebuild of the building. Mavis plays a larger role in this book as she reveals more about her past life as a street kid. She apparently knew several of the girls that were murdered. Some new characters are introduced in the book Garnet De Winter Ph.D. who is the forensic anthropologist and a skilled facial reconstruction artist who is pregnant. Also playing a key role is two of my favorite characters Charlotte Mira M.D. and her husband Dennis Mira. The change to a cold case, more of a traditional police work, new characters adds freshness to the series. There is a layer of poignancy to this tale that adds a depth to the intriguing procedural. I am amazed that J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) can keep coming up with ideas in this long running series. I first read this series out of curiosity to see what the author envisioned the future to be like. The narrator of this series, Susan Ericksen, is absolutely magnificent.
This is one of the best books in terms of detail and insight into the brilliant character of Paul Dirac 1902-1984. Graham Farmelo, a British Physicist, has obviously done in-depth research, and I understand he had access to many of Dirac’s personal papers. The book won the 2009 Costa book award. The book is less a scientific biography than other books on Dirac, it emphasizes more the development of Dirac’s personality and the story of his relationship with his relations and colleagues. I learned a lot about Dirac, including his work on the atomic bomb during World War II. Dirac is responsible for several of the great breakthrough in 20th century physics and mathematics. He found the fundamental insight into quantum mechanics and remains the basic understanding even today. His textbook on Quantum Mechanics remains a rigorously clear explanation of the fundamental idea of quantum theory. He also developed the Dirac equation which is the basis of particle physics. He is known for developing quantum field theory, quantum electrodynamics and the understanding the role of magnetic monopoles in electromagnetism. Dirac was the youngest theoretician to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics (1933). He also won the Max Planck Medal and the Copley Medal. He was the Lucasian Professor of mathematics at Cambridge University. The chair is now held by Stephen Hawking. Dirac’s work was so advanced we are only just beginning to prove and use his work. B. J. Harrison did an excellent job narrating this long book.
Historical novels stand of fall on detail. Cornwell writes as if he has been to the 9th century Wessex. Each of his battles poses different tactical questions and different answers. His accounts of the fire and slaughter, and of Viking methods of extorting money, would seem gruesomely exaggerated if they weren’t so often based on old legends or confirmed by archaeology. “Saxon Tale’s series is about the battle for supremacy between the Saxon and the Danes in 9th century Britain. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a fictional character is the star of the series and battles for Alfred the Great of Wessex to unify Britain. The book is written in Uhtred’s voice as he looks back on an exciting life. Historically Cornwell’s, major contribution is to tell the story of Ethelflaed, an actual heroine forgotten by most scholars. She is the daughter of Alfred married to the leader of Mercia. She became known as “Lady of the Mercian’s.” Cornwell is adept at enveloping his fictional character into British history. His use of geography, instruments of battle, strategy and ancient vocabulary is faultless. Cornwell is the master of battle scenes. Bernard Cornwell is probably the best historical novelist writing today. This series is about the battle to unify Britain by the Saxons. This is a great way to learn some British history. I greatly enjoyed the great baritone voice of John Lee, who did an excellent job narrating the story.
Over the past four years I have read many books on World War One. This year (2014) marks the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI and many books are coming out about WWI. I have read quite a few of them already. This book, “1914: The Year the World Ended”, is by the Australian Historian Paul Ham. The book is mostly about how the world went to war and very little about the battles. Recently a number of books by other writers have covered the same ground and done so in a much more enjoyable fashion. Ham tells the story leading up to the war from Austria-Hungarian, Russian, German, Serbian, British, French and Ottoman perspectives. The author follows the ebb and flow of diplomacy in Europe in the years leading up to The Great War. He highlights the feeling of inevitability of war going back a decade that served to cloud everyone’s judgment. He points out that 1914 was a pivotal year in human history. It led to the Russian Revolution, the cold war and was the seed that allowed Nazism and World War II to grow. It changed societies and countries around the globe. It was the beginning of the end of empires and monarchies as the world had known them. At the end of the book Ham relates briefly some of the battles but only covered one “the miracle on the Marne” in any detail. Despite some flaws the author performs an important role in attempting to distill historical work for the broader audiences. As there is a number of books out on this subject I wish Ham would have covered the role of the Australians played in World War One, I think that would have make a more unique book. Robert Meldrum did a good job narrating this 23 hour book.
I have read a few books on ancient Rome recently and came across this Edgar nominated mysteries by John Maddox Roberts. He is a new author to me but I understand he is a well known Sci-Fi writer. The book takes place in about 70 B.C.E. and follows Decius Caecilius Metellus the younger, who is a patrician and former soldier how is now a low ranking official in the commission of Twenty Six (sort of policeman). The garroting of a manumitted gladiator, a foreign merchant and a wealthy freedman all in a short time in his district has Decius investigation the murders. He uncovers a conspiracy by Publius Claudius Putcher. Roberts is using a first-person narration. Robert does spend a lot of time in forming us of the history of wars and Roman politics of the time. The author also relays Roman customs of daily life and religious life into the story. Decius’s consultation with Cicero was well done in providing background information but disguised as advice. Lots of famous people in the book such as, Cicero, Pompey and Crassus as the dual consuls, Roman General Lucullus commander in Asia, and also Prince Tigranes of Armenia, brings history to life. The story provides a murder mystery along with a bit of history of ancient Roman and information into the daily life of a Roman. Makes for a fun read with a bit of education along the way. Simon Vance did his usual excellent job narrating the book.
HRC is written by two journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. The book attempts to be neutral while providing in depth recounting of Hillary Clinton from defeat in the 2008 democratic primaries to Obama, her stint as Secretary of State up to 2013. It also is a revealing window into the layers of intrigue that develops when a celebrity politician who is married to a former U.S. President loses to yet another celebrity politician and goes on to serve the politician who defeated her. The author’s emphases the Clinton’s loyalty and disloyalty list and loyalty emerges as a theme through the book. The author’s claim that during her tenure as Secretary of State, Bill Clinton was busy building a base of support for Hillary to run in 2016. The author’s state that Hillary’s term as Secretary of State showed she had strong leadership and organizational skills and a “workmanlike enhancement of diplomacy and development” with “deliverables” those were real but not high-profile. She elevated the stature of State, which had lost influence to the CIA and pentagon. The author’s went into detail about the “Benghazi affair”, her flu and head injury and her work with the Clinton foundation. The author’s state that people who ended up working with Hillary developed great respect for her and liked her. This book retraces much of the same ground covered by “The Secretary” by Kim Ghattas, but with less “I was there” feel and much more political and foreign policy content. The author’s portray Hillary as adept at mastering complicated policy material, attention to detail and obsessed of an “unrelenting work ethic.” They also indicate Hillary was adept at nurturing personal relationships around the world. Hillary Clinton is one of those people that one either loves or hates, there is no in between. This book is interesting no matter which group one falls into. Kimberly Farr did an excellent job narrating this 16 hour book.
Recovering from a fall down a flight of stairs at a crime scene Detective D.D. Warren is sent to Adeline Glen, M.D. a pain specialist. Warren is on medical leave but that does not stop her from investigating the case she when injured. The story alternates between third person chapters following D.D.’s investigation and first person narration chapters dramatizing Adeline’s point of view. Gardner paints an indelible picture of two troubled sisters so closely bound together by blood they agree: “Blood is love.” If the story has a theme, it’s pain: physical, emotional and psychological. I guess this type of book is called a psychological thriller. Gardner tells a story full of suspense, and twisting story line to keep on reading. My only complaint is this turned out to be a story about a serial killer both past and present. I am so tired of reading about serial killers I attempt to avoid them, somehow, when selecting this book to read I did not realize it was about a serial killer otherwise it was a suspense story. Kristen Potter did an excellent job narrating the story.
I must acknowledge right up front, that I have a bias, in favor of Rachel Carson (1907-1964). I remember reading her “Under the Sea-Wind” published in 1941 and I was in high school when “The Sea Around Us” published in 1951 and “The Edge of the Sea” in 1955, came out and I avidly read. I will admit that it was these books and her various magazine and newspaper article that triggered my interest in science and set me off on a career in science. I was in college when “Silent Spring” came out in September 1962 and was the talk of the campus. When I came across “On a Farther Shore” (published September 2012) by William Souder I bought it right away to read: I wonder how I missed it in 2012. The book is eloquently written and meticulously researched. I did note the book was published on the 50th anniversary of “Silent Spring” publication. Souder’s work is a compelling and compulsively readable portrait of one of the most influential writers of the twenty century. Souder states that Carson graduated from the Pennsylvania Collage for Women and got a job as a biologist and technical writer for the U.S. Department of fisheries. She worked at the government job for many years, even after the governmental reorganization and the department was merged and changed into the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service. I must admit that even though I have read almost all Carson’s writing I knew little of her personal life. I wish Souder had gone more into her private life but he mostly concentrated on her writings. Souder’s narrative sometimes loss focus, such as a chapter he devotes to a short biography of Henry Williamson, an English nature writer Carson admired. Souder goes into great depth about “Silent Spring” but briefly Carson linked radioactive fallout with the indiscriminate use of pesticides and the harmful effects they were having on the environment. Souder states they were the “twin fears of the modern age.” The author goes on in detail about how overdue Carson was in meeting the publisher (Houghton Miffin) deadline dates. He mentions Carson was diagnosed with breast cancer in passing but what he did not emphasize was the she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the time she signed the contract with the publisher to write “Silent Spring”. She had surgery, radiation treatment and then was dying of cancer WHILE writing the book. It is hard enough to write a book but to do so when dying it is no wonder she miss deadline dates. I also noted that Souder points out that in her sea books Carson pointed out the effects of climate change from the greenhouse effect from carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. At the time she wrote her books it was just at the beginning of scientific awareness of the problem. “Silent Spring” started the environmental movement also paved the way toward the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency signed into law by President Richard Nixon. There was a lot of criticism of the book at the time but she has been proven correct. David Drummond did an excellent job in narrating this 15 plus hours book.
Secret Thoughts is a fast paced modern thriller or murder mystery about cutting edge medical technology. The main character Paul, an anesthesiologist is a likeable fellow as are most of the characters in the book. Clark has created a nail-biter story all the way to the end. The book goes from Seattle and a product tampering with cyanide with 7 deaths to our hero tramping through the Colombia jungle. The read minds via MRI scan is a bit too farfetched for me but is a fun idea for a work of fiction. Over all this a fast reading suspense story that is short only 6 and half hours on my IPod download from Audible. This book makes a great fun break from more serious reading. Ernie Sprance did a good job narrating the book.
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