I am writing this review for both volumes and putting it in both places. This is a well narrated story written by what has been described as the best biographer of the 20th Century about a man who was perhaps the greatest man to live in the 20th Century. What's not to like?
Both volumes have advantages over the other (listed below), but bottom line is that both are marvelous works. I doubt too many will be able to read Volume I without soon proceeding to Volume II. Volume I pluses include a better narrator (***** vs ****) (I was impressed with his mature Churchill voice and amazed that he started with a good child Churchill and gradually aged him into the famous voice we all love!), a more narrative/chronological layout as opposed to more topical, and illumination of the transition of the Victorian age through WWI and up to the Depression. This is a time of which I knew little relative to what came before and after. Volume II has the obvious advantage of fleshing out the rise of Hitler and explaining how the Appeasers were a product of their times.
I know it will take close to 80 hours to listen to both, but the time will fly and you will wish you could listen to Volume III, which was unfortunately never written. Both books are great though I slightly preferred the first volume.
Though it took a few chapters to draw me in, I ended up enjoying this story. The setting in a Roman legion is interesting, but this would work equally well in almost any army of any period. The reader did a great job with varying his voices so that you can recognize each character immediately. Very entertaining.
This fast-paced story is a real page turner. I liked the character development and the gripping plot. The reader is outstanding. Get this one if you want an engaging story that will keep you entertained throughout.
The characters are well developed, and the story is crisp. I like the chapters on training. The second half after that builds nicely to a gripping climax and is well wrapped up. This is a great book for a long drive. It will keep you awake.
Mrs. Pollifax walking into CIA headquarters and asking for a job as a spy is an amusing scene. When her interviewer tells her that the CIA generally comes looking for spies rather than the other way around, she replies that they haven't found her though they've had over 60 years to do so. Her adventures are just barely outside the believable, but we are not reading a spy novel that could be true. Readers who quibble over this are missing the point and the sheer fun. The plot is well thought out and keeps you interested and guessing. This is a light-hearted yet suspenseful romp, not a Tom Clancy novel.
Despite the narrator making Mrs. Pollifax's voice seem to be perhaps 90 instead of in her 69's, Barbara Rosenblatt nails the characters and differentiates the voices wonderfully. Narration is among the better performances on Audible that I have heard.
A story of an idealist, Robert Moses, who becomes jaded and calloused by the system, who learns to work the system to gain power, and who then proceeds to collect more and more power over his long career. This power corrupts him quickly and completely. You will despise the man and his methods while being fascinated by his cleverness. I debated on whether to give this excellent book 4 or 5 stars, and I only opted for the lower rating because of the length. Moses stayed in power for over 40 years. and there was plenty of material for Caro to write about. After a while, the incidences and conflicts become a bit repetitive. I think It would have held my undivided attention better if some of the repeated stories had been cataloged but not told in their entirety. Caro tells the stories masterfully, and some may wish he related even more. I would have preferred a few less.
The style is similar to Clancy with intense action, short staccato burst of developments form all over the world, good guys who are patriotic, and bad guys who are loathsome. No grey areas here or apologies for racial stereotypes. If that doesn't bother you, this is a riveting and intricate story that you will sit in your car in your driveway for a while hoping your family hasn't noticed you yet.
This is a work of fiction that seems like a plausible explanation for the puzzling fact that Hitler never employed his deadly nerve gases. That Hitler could have used these awful weapons is well documented. But why would he have held this trump card back when all appeared to be slipping from his grasp in 1944? This plot is probably not the answer, but it makes for a great story. Who knows...maybe this is close to the truth after all.
When I reached the end of this volume, I thought, "Is that it? I don't feel like I saw the empire actually arrive." It almost crept up on me. Sure, there were battles and conquests, but there didn't seem to be any grand advances of empire. Perhaps this was the point: the growth was organic, steady, and inexorable. Also, the fact that the book's end arrived before I could believe must mean that it was engaging. The short biographies of the individual empire builders were fantastic. (The footnotes were my favorite part.)
I also liked the emphasis on three themes throughout: 1) the effect of the abolished slave trade and slaveholdings, 2) the evangelical and humanitarian motives of empire, and 3) the reluctance through most of Victoria's reign by most Englishmen to even pursue empire.
You will enjoy this book if you want to learn about the growth of the British Empire under Victoria.
This book was entertaining. Somehow, it was not so good that I have gone on to read more in the series.
This series (many read in print as not all were available unabridged on Audible when I read them a few years ago) made for a great summer of reading. There are over twenty books in the series. Somehow the books did not get too repetitive or formulaic. I remember that summer of reading fondly. These books kept me enthralled for months.
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