It is hard to imagine that a book of this length could be written about the building of a single bridge. Indeed, 1776, McCullogh's outstanding history of the revolutionary war, is a third the length. One must conclude that McCullogh became obsessed with the bridge and the people responsible for completing one of the most unique engineering feats of the 1800's. He did exhaustive research and was the first to explore the rich archives at RPI which provide many of the details. While I wish he had spent more time on the engineering and less time on the politics, I suspect many listeners will feel quite the opposite. Regardless, this is a great historical book, and it provides more insight into life in the late 1800s than any other book I have read.
I was very sorry when this amazing story ended.
Although I noted a number of bad reviews, I downloaded this book solely based on its having won the 2005 Hugo Award. I have never been dissappointed by a Hugo or Nebula Award winning novel, and I am happy to say that this was one of the best. The question I address here is why there are so many mixed reviews, and I believe the answer lies in the slow start. The author spends a great deal of time (perhaps too much time) setting the stage, both in terms of character development and the ambience of the 1800s. I enjoyed it, but it is clear that many readers/listeners found it boring. But if you can make it through the first 8 hours, you will be rewarded with a wonderful experience. The reader is excellent, the characters have depth, the plot is sophisticated and while hard to follow, worth it. Many of the footnotes are enjoyable, and the reader handles them well and does not let them hinder the momentum. I strongly recommend this book. This novel, and American Gods, are the two best of the year for me.
Imagine a world where our gods exist only to the extent that we believe in them, and if we believe in them, they take on substance and power. This is a story of such a world but placed in modern times with a cast of characters that dates back to the earliest mythologies. A remarkably creative work that will be loved by those who remember (or are willing to revisit) their studies of the beliefs of the early normans, greeks, and romans. The main character is all too human and the gods he interacts with much too powerful, but like mythology, you can sometimes outwit a god if you are creative and play to his weaknesses. Enjoy.
Tom Clancy's early books are great, but his most recent books have been written not for our entertainment but as a platform for political discourse. He wants to make sure you agree with him politically, and for those listeners who are not religious conservatives or staunch catholics, his books can be painful experiences. He thinks the government should stay out of everyone's business unless the individual is a woman, and then the government should be in control of their body. Very Santorum. Very Ugly.
What makes this much worse is that 65% of the story is political exposition. Very little action. Other reviewers have said much the same, but I foolishly figured it would not be that bad. It was that bad and it ruined the story.
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