Thanks to everyone who recommended this book. The story is amazing, and I really couldn't tell as I read how it would turn out, who would survive, etc. That this is a true story makes it especially gripping.
I suspect some people may be upset by the depiction of WWII Japanese atrocities, in some ways exceeding in barbarism what the Nazis did, but I think this is based on facts about the "Rape of Nanjing" and the treatment of WWII POW's (1% of POW's under Nazi's died, 37% of POW's under the Japanese died). It is a tough, unsentimental view of the war, yet not lacking in compassion or recognition of those within these awful regimes who saw the atrocities and were shocked at their own side.
My suggestion? Read it. Make it your next selection.
Having listened to the first 9 books of the Wheel of Time, I must now say farewell to this series after listening to about one-quarter of this book, Book Ten. It is awful. I mean really low, boring, trash. I cannot say what Jordan's motivations might have been for turning this out, and since he's dead we can't ask, but he sold out. "Don't waste your time" hardly communicates my profound disappointment in what this series has become. I actually looked forward to each book, and hoped the decline in the last 2 books was a temporary setback, but now I must face the truth: the series is over, and Jordan decided it was time to sell out and keep producing pages of words with absolutely no point.
My personal final straw was listening to a full hour of description of women preparing for a momentous meeting, mostly by fidgeting, where the earth-shattering announcement was.... the final scene of the previous book. What drivel.
Other reviewers: add your personal "final straw", where you realized you were now wasting your time listening to a series that you had previously loved.
As a member of the silicon valley tech culture, I really enjoyed this book showing the extreme of a company that pushes it's invasive software to the total extremes. I thought the NY Times criticism of the book complaining that the author seemed to have an incomplete understanding of the differences between an OS and a social website missed the mark. I understand the difference, but I still really enjoyed the story of this company (which I think sounds remarkably like Google) that went from being a social site to essentially taking over every aspect of people's lives. The only flaw, in this story as well as others that paint a picture of the all-threatening "Big Brother", is that even the most pernicious organizations show massive incompetence when it comes down to the details, but "the Circle" Incorporated seems to have mastered every level of expertise, never making a mistake. Not on this planet....
This free book was really awful. If you've ever perused book titles looking for a book that promised scenes of children eating other children, then this book is for you. If that description sounds like "horse manure", then you agree with me and will pass on this one.
I rate this book 3 stars out of 5. I wouldn't recommend it highly. The formula here is: repeat the same phrases over and over and over to build tension. Unfortunately, instead of tension it makes you want to hit "fast forward".
To make it more exciting, a lot less description of ancient art and literature. In one section, the protagonists are on the run for their lives, and we have page after page of historical description of their surroundings. Hello?
It was well-performed, clear and with good expression.
No. The author needs to consider breaking out of his (very profitable) mold and try something different.
I love Beethoven, and as an amateur pianist I expected to love this book, but I couldn't finish it. The author makes points that are perfectly reasonable, just not very entertaining. The premise, that he went crazy performing Opus 109, could lead to all kinds of interesting conclusions, but instead he just meanders through the sonatas and piano greats without engaging the reader.
First, and last book by Biss.
It wasn't bad, but it just couldn't keep me awake.
i think this book wasn't clearly thought out in terms of a real message and point of view.
Beethoven is my personal hero, so if I can't even finish a short work about him, I blame the author, not the subject.
It would definitely be worth listening to again. There are so many cogent arguments and counter-arguments that it is hard to remember them all. The thought-provoking ideas combined with humor and personal experiences lecturing about atheism makes this a must-read for atheists and agnostics, as well as any religious people with serious doubts.
Dawkins seemed to be speaking to me when he accuses agnostics as being atheists with no backbone. My logic in being an agnostic was that there is no way to prove a negative: you can't "prove there is no god". But Dawkins chides that it isn't up to us to prove there is no god, it is up to theists to prove there IS a god. If we honestly feel the arguments supporting the existence of god are fatuous and transparent lies, then we should stand up and declare ourselves atheists, and not worry about stepping on toes or being thought unsympathetic.
This is my first.
I prefer listening to this in doses, so I can go off and think about what was said, and dive into the next chapter with a fresh mind.
I especially like Dawkins comments about the complete ostracism of atheists in US culture and politics. He notes a poll asking people "would you vote for a for president?" For being "Irish" it was "99%", "Catholic" it was 95%, "Mormon" it was about 80% (this was before Romney), and for "Atheist" it was something like 40%.
This was a good read, and I enjoyed listening to it. I'd say about 1/3 of the audiobooks I've listened to are better than this one. The supernatural parts are a real draw for readers who enjoy that. The vampire characters are pretty 2-dimensional - yes, they can be very nasty, and yes, they can be romantic and sexy, but that's about it.
My favorite character is Mathew's father, Philippe. He is so commanding, yet understanding, you can really feel why he's the head of family of vampires.
The same narrator did book 1, so it was a smooth transition to this book. Her narration of the main characters is quite good. Her narration of the Latin and foreign language passages is wooden and stilted.
"A New World Long Gone."
I recommend this book for people who've read book 1. I really disagree with reviewers who thought there were too many historical details. The historical characters (Sir Walter Raleigh, Queen Elizabeth) really flesh out this novel and make it more interesting, without overdoing the historical references. I'd say that is the high point of this work. After 40 hours, the character of Mathew is beginning to really annoy me. I mean, I understand he's devoted to Dianne, but every sentence, every gesture, is female fantasy of the perfect attentive mate: dangerous but pathologically devoted. There is a 3rd dimension to real people that means they don't just behave towards and away from another person - they need to have their own independent thoughts and values. Yeah I know: if I'm so good at this, why don't I write my own novel?
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.
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