The gentry of nineteenth century England must have been an odd lot, if this book is any indication. It is an almost constant--and usually boring--rendition of petty interpersonal interactions of little consequence. Gossip, pretentious posturing, incompetent matchmaking and stilted formality are hallmarks of "Emma's" characters. It must be a satire.
This is a powerful work of fiction, but I suspect it conveys an awful lot of truth. Black maids--"nigras", as they are condescendingly called by their white mistresses--wait hand and foot on the families of their employers. Fear arising out of economic necessity and the Jim Crow culture are in the background of all the maids portrayed in this story. I'm old enough to remember the '50s and '60s, so this book was a trip into a not-so-happy nostalgia. As a white northerner, I highly recommend it.
It was hard to tell how much of this was Steve Wozniak and how much was Gina Smith. Perhaps it doesn't matter. Mix in the boyish enthusiasm of the narrator Patrick Lawlor, and you have a narrative that probably pretty well captures Wozniak's persona.
I liked this book in spite of the self-righteous egocentrism of its subject. I am always amazed at people who are so insecure that they must constantly tell us how great they are...and Steve does this with gusto!
Still, there can be no doubt about his genius, and it was fun getting the inside story on so much of the early history of computing and the development of the Apple I and ][. The first computer with which I had any significant experience was an Apple ][, and the first computer I ever owned (after a failed affair with a Texas Instruments "toy" that was given to me) was an Apple ][c, so I enjoyed revisiting the "old days".
All in all there is much to like in this book--especially if Woz' ego trip doesn't particularly bother you.
I guess I was supposed to like this book, judging by most of the other reviews here, not to mention the awards it won after the print edition was published. I didn't like it. I didn't like the narrator (although I have to hand it to him for getting the pronunciation of "Oconomowoc" correct after flubbing it on his first attempt). The mix of fictionalized historical characters and actual fictional characters consistently left me wondering what was fact and what was fiction. The constant jumping from World War II to the 1990s, along with the similar names of many of the characters from both eras, made it very difficult for me to follow. To be honest, I was really glad when I finally heard "We hope you have enjoyed this McMillan audio production of Cryptonomicon." For the most part, I did not.
As a pilot (though I don't fly for a living), I remember well the infamous incident of which Joe Balzer was a part. I remember wondering how they could do what they did. When they were sentenced, I remember thinking that they got what they deserved.
Listening to Joe's account of that tragic moment in the lives of three pilots and Joe's struggle to regain his life was at times painful and often moving. His experience in the criminal justice system was particularly wrenching, as was his up-again-down-again effort to remake his flying career.
Although Balzer's writing and narration are clearly heart-felt and very compelling, there was one thing that really troubled me about the book: his bitterness toward the airline and the other two members of the flight deck on that fateful day. When he hears that the captain regained his license and eventually his job (the captain in question eventually retired from the airline as a 747 captain), he is clearly angry. Does he have any idea what that captain went through in order to accomplish that...what his life changes might have been like?
The fact that Balzer can say almost nothing good about the captain, save one feeble effort near the end, and the fact that the first officer has never contacted him since the trial, makes me wonder if Joe isn't quite the kind of person we would want him to be as we hear his story.
In the end, I congratulate him for his courage and persistence, but I'm left with some lingering questions about the true dynamics of that flight crew...especially what Joe's role in it might really have been.
I looked forward to a drive or a walk while listening to this book. Not great literature, but a fun read.
This is one of the best books I've listened to in a long time. I hated to see it end.
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