Aside from the fact that it is hard to believe a spy - a professional liar (since we simply signed an unspoken pact of trust with him the moment we purchased the book), the author's motivation for spying, and other actions were simply ridiculous and he volunteers to highlight such ridicule by grave contradictions.
First, he says he's chosen to spy for the CIA so that America would save his country from its regime, something some would believe; but when he's offered a salary, instead of rejecting it defiantly and with hurt dignity, he just accepts. Just like that. But to be honest, he did say that money was not his motivation when he was offered the first bonus payment, that's before accepting it on the CIA agent's encouraging words, "Take it, it's yours, you deserve it." Oh, and he didn't it say it out loud, it was an inner dialogue but the clever agent felt his struggle that he couldn't express with a single dignified word (after all, who knows how those agents take such words? She might have apologized, taken back the money, and thanked him for his free work to save his country. But we, the good readers, wouldn't do so, would we? No, we trust an honest spy working for the Iranian government's guards on one side and the CIA on the other, for a pay.)
Now, what about those who though that the idea of seeking help from the US to bring democracy was a stale joke in the first place - those who know its black history of supporting tyrants, imperialism, and unchangeable own interest-driven policies? Like who? Well, like the author himself. At one point he admits that the "foreign policy of the US 'sent mixed signals'" (now that's one good romantic expression.) Yet, while many people made the conclusion that the US will not really scramble to set things right in Iran, our good spy made a different one which nothing could shake, not covert negotiations and support at least.
I can go on like this listing situations where the author blandly shows his disrespect for the reader's intelligence.
There other nice coincidences as well to entertain. The guard who was suspicious about the author dies on their trip to the front right after the author finds out that he started digging. The other guard, the author's boss, whom he finally confronted of his despise for the regime, gets assassinated by an anti government group, while driving his car with the author riding beside him. Luckily, the author, who works for the same establishment, walks out of this unscathed, although the car stopped and the motorcycle-riding assassins could have just walked to him and shot him there. Phew! That was close.
And no, the author didn't wonder for a second about this, so I guess this means we shouldn't either.
An important point to ponder is that the author is a Shiite Muslim as almost all Iranians. Shiites changed a lot in the original Islamic beliefs and are considered non-Muslims by original Muslim scholars (it's hard to have faith in a religion that speaks of a human being trapped in a tunnel for hundreds of years and built on the foundation that he will return.) The author mentions several of such horrific and bloody beliefs (like raping female prisoners before executing them to prevent them from going to heaven) but it should be understood that this is not Islam. While he keeps saying that this is not true Islam, he means only fanaticism, which is wrong in all religions. But at the same time, he attempts to twist some righteous beliefs, like martyrdom, which is respected even aside from religion, for one's country for instance, to show it as brainwash.
All in all, I found the book to be far from believable and more of a CIA propaganda against Iran, although the foundations for Iran's atrocities are there, but it is hard to discern the truth from the lies with the above contradictions and irrationalities so stark.
For the audiobook, the narration was fine. The narrator used a heavy accent to impersonate the character and seemed to be a Persian speaker as well.
He could have respected my intelligence, for one.
Prof. Greenberg's style is passionate and humorous which makes the course quite enjoyable. His explanations are good.
A great caveat is that Audible does not offer the word scores Prof. Greenberg uses heavily in this course and which are described in the very beginning as of great importance to understand the course. Not only that, but the professor skips some parts, due to lack of time, instructing the listeners to read those parts in the word scores!
When I complained, Audible said that 'The Great Courses company said the word scores are not important' and 'you can return the book if you didn't like it', which doesn't work for me because there is information in it that I need, but I also need the rest of it. When I contacted The Great Courses company they offered to sell me the hard copy of the word scores!
The question now is: Why doesn't Audible mention clearly that these courses come without the word scores that are given great importance by the instructor? And why doesn't it strike a deal with that company to sell the word scores and add their prices to the books'?
The only negative point about the performance is the audio quality, which is attributed to the old recording. If you give yourself some time you can easily get over this and enjoy the listen. Well, I, for one, did. The narrator is actually very good if not excellent.
Yes. The style is engaging and the performance is perfect.
Both characters were drawn with care.
Humane, sincere, and touching
The idea, the spontaneity despite the staging, and the topics addressed
The soldier who narrated how he killed a young good looking German soldier and how this affected him all his life
Those who can bear banality and cliche-riddled writing.
Given it to a better author.
While Mr. Sowers admittedly did a not-so-good job with the narration, no narrator could have been able to lift this kind of writing off the ground.
First, last (which I didn't reach as I couldn't bear to finish the book), and whatever is in between.
Almost every phrase and word had been used before millions of times. This is an incredible work of collecting cliches, indeed. Hart goes further to create cliched characters and events. This is a remake of remakes of dozen other low class movies.
Cunningly and painfully insightful
The structure. Barnes plays the same tricks of the human psyche on the reader touching deeply and devilishly into it.
Beautiful. While I would have loved a change of voice for each character, the somber one voice he read with has its charm and goes along with the novel's mood.
Remembering to Forget
The novel is short, yet is packed with a whole world of emotions and quite some surprises. The writing is wonderful and the insights are deep and invigorating.
Yes. The book is quite touching and the writing is good. The narration is very good as well.
The expansive exploration of hard human emotions while keeping the rhythm
The native touch
I did! No details, though. Sorry! :)
While the form is quite classical, the writer managed to keep a good grip on me and have me enjoy the novel. He managed as well to keep the structure from sagging despite the long timeline he is dealing with.
At several moments, yes. However, it is far from amusing. This is some sort of a bitter medicine. The writer's style is poor and repetitive and you will sometimes feel yourself drowned in the many bullet/number points that will feel lost. Certainly the book could use a lot of editing in this regard.
The only thing that's worse that the writing style is the narration style. As a start, Maxwell seems to have some sinus problem or chronic cold that is causing his m's and n's to be muffled, not to mention the ever existing veil on most of the other letters. Moreover, he has quite an annoying way of narration, especially his
Yes, to find a more concise and to-the-point book that is well written and narrated.
Please, if you can't have the book re-written, the least you owe your listeners is to have other narrators read it. Please!
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