After the first 2 books, I read someone's review of this one (book 3) suggesting it was slow, just a rehash of book 2. No, this book is new, and a good development of the characters. Instead of focusing on the main character Rand, it spends far more time on the other characters, and their progression from farmers and blacksmiths to warriors and heroes. This series continues to enthrall me, and I can't wait for book 4. That said, I do acknowledge that these books seem to all end with the inevitable "big battle" between Rand and the evil one, that of course settles nothing and leads to the next book. Maybe the next books will have more satisfying endings...
It is in the top few non-fiction books I've read.
I've read other biographies that either try to turn the subject into a saint, or add so much detail they drag on, but this was a winner in both departments. Jobs comes across as the genius and jerk that he really was, and the details really tie everything together. I am computer engineer, but I've read non-fiction about technology that bored me to tears. This goes way beyond technology, and really gets into the fundamental question: what is the difference between a CEO who leads a company into failure, and a CEO which turns a nearly-bankrupt company into the largest company in the world?
This book is best enjoyed over multiple sittings, because there is much to absorb and digest. Jobs is presented in all his complexity, leading his employees to absolute brilliance, and driving them out of the company with his temper and whimsical opinions.
I found this book to be excellent, in the spirit of the highest level of literature. The story is far from predictable, and yet the characters are so predictable in ways that we can't help but see our own behavior in them. Despite the message about sometimes changing one's life despite all the obstacles, I still found watching Harold's decisions frustrating to watch. I sympathize with his sad life, retired with an unloving/unforgiving wife, and I think it's noble he decided on his walk on the spur of the moment. But his decisions are too unthinking: refusing to buy decent shoes and developing huge blisters, hooking up with people who are clearly not good, refusing to pause his walk despite terrible pain and miserable weather, etc. I know the author is intelligent and deliberately wants us to see all these contradictions in his life, but when the character's lack of self-awareness swamps the plot, I think it distracts from the author's good yet complicated message to the reader.
I'm an engineer, so reading about Bell Labs and some of the most exciting discoveries and technological breakthroughs of the 20th century is of natural interest to me. This book covers all the great breakthroughs at Bell Labs, through the eyes of the executives of the labs and the Nobel Prize winners who did most of the discovering. Although this is a natural vantage point, I kept feeling like I was missing the basic intensity and passion of the individual inventor and discoverer, which is what most interests me.
I never finished the book, because I'm afraid there are other works I'm more interested in, and are really more interesting to read. I wonder how the author holds other people's attention for the whole book, when an electrical engineer like me can't maintain interest.
The narrator of this book is painfully slow. He reads so deliberately, as if he's recounting some incredibly exciting event like a political assassination, as he recounts the researcher pushing a probe into a device to measure a current. My audible.com software allows me to change the narration speed, and I highly recommend "2x" or 2 times normal speed, so you don't fall asleep, or punch the dashboard in frustration.
This is the first in the Mitch Rapp series that I've read, and I was spellbound. Although the level of violence is higher than I like, I think it goes along with this genre (spy thriller). I think it says a lot about a novel when the first thing you want to do when you finish is read another one by the the same author, which is what I'm doing now.
I researched the author a bit. Although he remains cagey about his own politics, it turns out Flynn is a regular on Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, so there is no question where his opinions lie. I didn't realize this when I read "Last Man", and I enjoyed it more because of my ignorance. Now I'm on to another Rapp series, and I now notice the ranting against Democrats and liberals (sort of Ayn Rand, but subtler and in pants), and it greatly reduces my interest in the series, being a Democrat and liberal myself.
I've heard this narrator doing more books than I can count, but he's good, and keeps the tenor and pace of the book nicely.
Including myself in the group called atheists, I found Hitchen's intellectual rant against various religions a great read. I don't imagine Christians would even read this, but I wish they would, to experience how ridiculous religion sounds to those of us without benefit of the irrationality of faith. Hitchen's speciality comes from his long instruction in Christianity, which means most of his focus is on that branch of mysticism, but he also delves with gusto into Islam and other faiths. I feel he could say more about Hinduism, which I have always found especially suspect, requiring as it does that only the high class "Brahmin" are allowed to learn the sacred texts written in Sanskrit, and the poor underclasses may only gain their understanding through the self-interested pronouncements of the upper class (I learned this from an Indian officemate of mine, who was himself Brahmin, and clearly had relished his position back in India). But Hitchen's welcome evisceration of Christianity stands as a monument for the rest of us looking for logical thought in a world of fervent, dogmatic religious nonsense.
As for the narration, it is poor. I listen to audiobooks in my car, and if I listened to this in the silence of a library (or using noise-cancelling headphones, which are illegal for drivers in my state), I would enjoy much more Hitchen's sonorous British accent. But listening to it in my car (as most audiobook listeners do, I imagine), I could only understand about 80% of this. His jet-engine-booms would start out, drifting into a church-mouse-mumble at the end of most sentences. Very frustrating when you're trying to follow the point of an especially delicate argument. I suggest putting your player on very high volume, and trying to survive the shouts so you can hear the whispers.
This is a fast-moving, captivating tale about post-apocalypse life in the US. I recommend it because it is a good story, keeps you on the edge of your seat, and ends in a satisfying way.
The only quibbles I have are some of the assumptions of the story. A full-scale nuclear exchange between the USA and the USSR is no longer possible. Using the USSR as a combatant makes the story dated. I also quibble with the level of destruction described. The author basically states that human civilization ends with nuclear war (scanning the airwaves with a shortwave radio found absolutely 0 people still transmitting). But given that there were about 8,000 warheads at the peak of the cold war, I don't see how every city in every country could have been destroyed. Do you think Fiji would be targeted? Madagascar? Also, as an engineer, I cannot picture that a nuclear exchange would have this total "success", meaning I believe that since no intercontinental nuclear missile has EVER been really tested (including blowing up a city), the vast majority of them wouldn't work. And after a few explosions, the ability of the remaining missiles to still function and find their targets seems even more suspect. So the whole setup of the story seems unreal to me. Also, although I enjoy fantasy, I thought the addition of many supernatural forces to this story was unnecessary. The challenges and situation is so remarkable on its own, that we don't really need to hear about magical lights and evil monsters.
But despite my quibbling, I think the story of groups of survivors trying to survive in a nuclear winter makes a fascinating premise for a story. I listened to it intently, and was sorry to reach the end because I wanted to know more about what happens to the survivors. Caring about the characters is what makes good writing, and that's why I recommend this book.
I enjoyed this books while listening, but I'm not really motivated to get part 2. I'm not exactly sure what is missing here. The idea of a sentience developing out of the internet is good sci fi material, and I like the idea development. But the characters are just not absorbing to me, neither the real ones or the supernatural one. I think some people will really like this book - I would recommend it for teenage readers.
I assume anyone planning to read this has at least read the previous 3 books in the series. I enjoy this series very much, and Book 4 moves the plot along quite well introduces new characters and actions, as well as developing the characters alot.
I feel that the ending was weak. As with many such series, the first few books really have an ending (presumably because the author didn't know how much further he would take the story), but by this book, the author knows he's going on to many more books, and makes no attempt to resolve anything at the end. This book ends with a middling plot progression with a new character, and basically ends "between chapters" instead of making this a self-sufficient book.
So this book is a "don't miss" if you want to continue to learn the full story.
I enjoyed and laughed at this witty and thought-provoking autobiography from Greene. As a parent, including of a son born and adopted in Ethiopia, it is always a wonderful thing to see how other parents deal with the trials and joys of parenting in general and raising adopted children in particular. I feel a little that I should feel "guilty" at only have a family with 2 children, after reading about this family of 9. I especially admire Greene's honesty, not just crowing about the child who excels at sports or academics, but describing the difficulties with the kids who do not excel at certain things, or who break rules and refuse to admit their guilt, or who get in endless battles with their siblings. It seems honest and the mother's admission that she couldn't handle some of these things alone brings out my sympathies.
I've never started a review discussing the narrator, but Bower does such a magnificent job on this book I need to start with that. His accents are spot on - I admit that I really only know American and German accents well, but he gets those, and his Indian, English, cockney, French, etc. are just wonderful to hear. The emotional force he brings to the reading is also tremendous, hearing his voice crack in the tragic sections, and being just hilarious in the funny parts. My previous vote for "best narrator" would have gone to Jim Dale for the Harry Potter series, but now Humphrey Bower takes over for me with a 5+ star rating.
Despite the length of this book, it is worth reading in many ways. The deep exposure to several different facets of Indian life are fascinating, and for me quite new. The author also delves into philosophy, such as the theory of increasing complexity, but that left me wishing he'd spent a bit more time on it, since I ended up doing some research on that on my own to fill out my understanding. The character development I found deep and caring, and he shows rather than preaches how the Indian character shouldn't be judged by the corruption or poverty we see so much from the outside, but rather by the deep caring hearts of his characters that never waver. But the characters aren't all Indian - besides the main character from Australia, the other main characters are from Switzerland, Afghanistan, USA, France... The breadth of character backgrounds, plus their brilliantly imagined behaviors draws you along in this story more than any excitement alone could. But the excitement is non-stop; you barely catch your breath from one adventure, where the main character is fighting fires, then battling a cholera outbreak, then next running from wild dogs or battling sadistic jail guards... it is so seamless and therefore hard to stop listening so you can remember to eat and sleep.
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