A generally well done true crime thriller. Not a lot of suspense but for those interested in police investigatory procedures it doesn't disappoint.
This is a monumental work covering the last year and a half of the WWII pacific theater. I found this wide ranging and expansive, offering insights at the geopolitical level, through military strategy, to the on the ground/sea fighting. I found it gripping from beginning to end. The narrative is effectively punctuated by frequent first-person accounts which is not often found in this genre. As well, Hastings takes pains to present the perspectives of all sides of the conflict and also weighs in on such ongoing moral controversies such as Japanese and allied war crimes, the morality of total war, the competence of the leading strategists and military commanders (in particular MacArthur) and the use of the atomic bombs. This is thoroughly enjoyable and informative reading and I will definitely be looking to read more of Hasting's works.
The narration is competent and Cameron punctuates the first person accounts by invoking various accents. Still, given that the war in the pacific was fought mostly by Americans, I found Cameron's English accent oddly out of place and had a hard time getting past it.
So this is the book for those who were always intrigued about how any of high school algebra and calculus would ever be useful/applicable in the real world. From the first anecdote - about how in it was ultimately decided where to place extra armour in bombers during WWII - this book had me. Math was never my best subject but I found this all intriguing and fun - a mix of Freakonomics, Malcolm Gladwell, and trivia rolled into one. Ellenberg - a college math professor - doesn't talk down to the reader and be warned, he takes us through various equations that underlie the real world problems at stake so some fluency in math is helpful but not necessary. I'll be the first to admit I got lost in some of the equations and logical problems which probably make the print edition of this an easier go than the audiobook format. Still, it should not deter you and it all adds up to great fun that is informative and at times, surprising. Ellenberg narrates this himself in a lively manner which makes you wish you had him in place of you fill in the blanks math teacher of your younger days.
This book is an epidemiologist's dream. This is an utterly engrossing history of the hunt for the origin of the HIV virus. I was completely surprised that scientists seem to have been able to trace the origins of HIV to seemingly pinpoint places and times, stretching back further than I had previously thought. Rather than one continuous storyline/narrative, the author breaks this up into chapters that weave parallel but ultimately converging lines of investigation, tracing back from those first diagnosed, through the carriers who were the unwitting spreaders of the pandemic, through the disparate strains of HIV that became identified and laid a train back to the places and animals of the virus' origins. Incredible and would strain belief if not true. This audiobook had me from minute one. Still, I can't give it a full five stars. At time, I found the writing a bit dry, as if reading a collection of scientific papers. A more skilled writer might have found a way to craft this more as a whodunit in the spirit of a good true crime writer for instance. For instance, you never get much of a sense of who any of the multitude of scientists are behind the investigation - thus the narrative appeals solely to the intellect rather than any emotion. As well, I found myself getting lost at times in the array of different names of primate species, their lineage, as well as the alphanumeric strains of the different HIV strains. Indeed, the audiobook frequently references various diagrams and figures that would only be accessible in the actual book and would help clarify things. Still, those with a curiosity or interest in the origins of this modern pandemic will enjoy this book.
I enjoyed this audiobook but have a background in the field. The author takes us throughout each of the various classes of mind and mood altering drugs, both prescription and illegal, offering a brief history of each, their uses, effects, efficacy etc. Most, if not all the drugs covered here will be familiar to most readers and there is lots of interesting details, trivia, and factoids. This isn't a book for anyone searching for the right "med" - rather, is more of a history of man's flirtation with and apparent need for, mind altering experiences. I was captivated throughout. My only criticism was that the author tends to delve a little too deep into the biochemistry of each drug which tends to overwhelm the reader at times. As well, I got the sense the title was the publisher's ploy to make this rather academic book more appealing to the lay reader. Still, for anyone with an interest in the history and science behind many of our modern drugs of choice to either treat or self-medicate psychiatric illnesses, this is the book for you.
No complaints about the narration. Could have been dry given the subject matter but to the credit of Clark.
Quick quiz - how many books would you read about the biography of a single word? Exactly. Well, you should read this one. This is a real tour de force of our most racially charged word - its etymology, evolution, uses, jurisprudence, controversies - you name it. Kennedy does not shy away from controversy; he readily offers his view on the often conflicting, frequently confounding examples in which the use of the N-word has contributed to racial inequality, landed parties in court, benefitted entertainers, and excused (or not) criminal behaviour to name a few. I found this mix thoroughly eye opening, entertaining, and informative. Illustrating his arguments with case studies keeps the narrative moving along and prevents this from being a pure op ed piece. The fact that Kennedy narrates this himself heightens the authenticity of his arguments and it certainly is well narrated. A thoroughly enjoyable must read not only for those with an interest in race relations but also for those with a curiosity about the evolution and cultural impacts of language.
Interesting bio of one of the more maligned Presidents of recent history. Balmer offers a sympathetic portrait of Carter, drawing attention to his multitude of achievements while underscoring well known on the record failings. For any Carter detractors, this book won't likely make them fans but hopefully would at least ameliorate the exaggerated negativity which has come to characterize the Carter presidency. As a bio, I would rate this only so so - it is really about a ten thousand foot overview of the man and his presidency - I would have preferred more depth and detail. What makes this compelling however is Balmer's assertion that the rise of Carter paralleled the rise of the Evangelical voting block, something from which he initially benefitted before they abandoned him. I found this pretty persuasive. On this basis, I found it well worth the read, but will still seek out a more comprehensive and definitive Carter bio at some later point.
No complaints here. Enjoyed the narration.
Enjoyable, always interesting history of the most (in)famous spies of the past seventy years. Sulick breaks the book into chapters delving into various historical periods, e.g. Cold War Soviet spies, Viet Nam era, 1980's, military spies, age of terrorism, etc. and this helps frame common themes the perpetrators tended to have in common (e.g ideology, greed, corporate espionage, sense of grievance etc). The end result? Not only an absorbing recounting of the perpetrators, their crimes and the influences that shaped them, but also the challenges law enforcement faced in catching them. Engrossing stuff. I liked as well that the author frequently cited sources which is a bit unusual for this genre IMO. This book had me captivated from beginning to end. My only gripe was that major cases were given the same level of detail/treatment as more minor, obscure cases.
Far from dry. Managed to imbue a sense of drama in the narration without being overdone.
For lovers of spy genre fiction, this would make a useful companion reader.
How to write a biography about one of America's least loquacious and bland Presidents? That was the task facing Shlaes who does an admirable job on one of the 20th centuries' more overlooked leaders. Silent Cal spoke little, spent less, and nevertheless ably lead during one of America's more prosperous decades. Should make for compelling reading but this bio is mostly a recapitulation of what is already largely known about the man with few insider details about CC and what made him tick. Nevertheless I found it interesting, more because of how such a man - talented though he may have been - was clearly a product of his time and could never be elected today. Though Shlaes doesn't draw these comparisons, this book really does speak volumes about what type of man America once made President and what type of person it now takes to endure seemingly endless campaigns, 24 hour news cycles, a cynical electorate and bland but electable policy positions by candidates. CC may be the last if his kind. Too bad Shlaes didn't focus more attention and details on this.
Those expecting either a traditional linear storyline or page turner will be disappointed but that doesn't mean this take doesn't have its pluses. It is oddly structured - starting out with bios of the case officers who investigated and caught Ames, followed by biographical profiles of those he betrayed, then the investigation itself. Only toward the end of the book is there a profile of Ames. The reader is required to piece much of this into a coherent timeline/narrative. Taken together the reader gets an overall understanding of his crimes but less so about the man. Will hardly keep the reader on the edge of their seat but is enough to reveal the banality of the man, the doggedness of his pursuers, and the gravity of his crimes.
Narration is okay but matches the "Just the facts M'am" tone if the book.
A bit too dry for that.
If you are interested in a factual account mixed with policy implications for the nuclear industry you have found your book. For me this was just "meh". Good non- fiction writers have a way of infusing a true story with a narrative that offers some suspense, tension, or at least lets you get behind the scenes to get to know the players and their take on what happened and it's impact on them. All that is missing here and the result reads more like an extended encyclopedia entry rather than an engrossing page turner. The problem may lie with the group of writers - all from the field. Would have benefitted from a ghost writer to help them along.
Can't complain about the narration. Well read.
If so, would need some major script doctoring, even if it were a documentary, Can't see Tarantino directing this.
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