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Eric

Middlemarch, Middlesex, Middlebrow

Member Since 2005

10
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 12 reviews
  • 55 ratings
  • 534 titles in library
  • 22 purchased in 2014
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  • Napoleon: A Life

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Andrew Roberts
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (33)

    Andrew Roberts' Napoleon is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon's thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation. At last we see him as he was: protean multitasker, decisive, surprisingly willing to forgive his enemies and his errant wife Josephine.

    Rollin says: "Fascinating history of an extraordinary leader"
    "Excellent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A wonderful listen, overall.

    Why, however, must we be subjected to the common misuse of "begs the question" in such an otherwise well written book? The author also confuses "coruscating" and "excoriating." What ever happened to editing?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Verdict on Vichy: Power and Prejudice in the Vichy France Regim

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Michael Curtis
    • Narrated By James Patrick Cronin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    This masterful audiobook is the first comprehensive reappraisal of the Vichy France regime for over 20 years. France was occupied by Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1944, and the exact nature of France's role in the Vichy years is only now beginning to come to light. One of the main reasons that the Vichy history is difficult to tell is that some of France's most prominent politicians, including President Mitterand, have been implicated in the regime. This has meant that public access to key documents has been denied and it is only now that an objective analysis is possible.

    Eric says: "Good book, marginal reading"
    "Good book, marginal reading"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Excellent, densely researched, and eye-opening book. I, for one, will never see France in quite the same way again. They never underwent the violent catharsis of other Axis nations and, instead, seem to be reaching a resolution incrementally. I hope they get there; they've got a lot to resolve.

    The narrator is dreadfully slow and non-fluent. His over-pronounced French names come after portentous pauses and sound like parody. It's a genuinely awful reading, which makes the fact-intensive writing that much more difficult to assimilate while cleaning up the kitchen or doing side lunges. Oh, and he pronounces "banal" to rhyme with "anal." Vraiment le coup de grâce.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Thinking the Twentieth Century

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Tony Judt, Timothy Snyder
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (27)

    Here is the final book of unparalleled historian Tony Judt. Where Judt’s masterpiece Postwar redefined the history of modern Europe by uniting the stories of its eastern and western halves, Thinking the Twentieth Century unites the century’s conflicted intellectual history into a single soaring narrative. The 20th century comes to life as the age of ideas - a time when, for good or for ill, the thoughts of the few reigned over the lives of the many.

    Norman says: "UNINTELLIGIBLE"
    "Superb"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Judt's thinking is breathtakingly lucid and reveals relationships and causes deep under events where conventional accounts are superficial and unsatisfying. Snyder is also obviously brilliant their voices are so similar that it would have been helpful to have some additional cues as to who is speaking in the audio version--the printed book uses italics. That said, Mr. Cosham, one of my favorite Blackstone readers, clearly appreciates the material and can pronounce the foreign names with remarkable accuracy. He does, however, tend to lose volume on the final consonants of sentences, here as elsewhere.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Thomas Hager
    • Narrated By Adam Verner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (646)
    Performance
    (526)
    Story
    (523)

    At the dawn of the 20th century, humanity was facing global disaster. Mass starvation, long predicted for the fast-growing population, was about to become a reality. A call went out to the worlds scientists to find a solution. This is the story of the two enormously gifted, fatally flawed men who found it: the brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and the reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, controlled world markets, and saved millions of lives.

    sarah says: "Riveting"
    "Reader drags it down"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You'll experience a strong sense of deja entendu if you've ever listened to "Iron Mike" read the forecast on NOAA VHF weather radio.

    "Soul-der" for solder is bad, but wait till you hear him try "Hoechst", and Admiral Spee's name doesn't rhyme with "pee". I could go on.

    Great story, though, and the writing is simple enough to absorb in challenging traffic or while making love (just kidding).

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Until the Sea Shall Free Them

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Robert Frump
    • Narrated By Luke Smith
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    The men on the SS Marine Electric sailed into a storm in February 1983 not knowing that they would make history - at a great cost in lives. Just three men survived the wreck of the Marine Electric off the shores of Virginia and they found that their struggle had just begun once they got back to shore. Blamed for the wreck, they fought back and broke a code of silence that had covered up sloppy ship inspections for decades and revealed the flaws in old World War II rust buckets that were still at sea long past their functional lifetime.

    Eric says: "Interesting, but not a great listen"
    "Interesting, but not a great listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The overall effect is Bob Dylan reading bad Hemingway, i.e. frankly annoying, and the writing, while workmanlike, is illiterate in spots: German U-boats did not create a "Maelstrom" for US merchant shipping, for God's sake!

    The narrator has a strange, over-dramatic, cadence and the depressingly usual trouble with the unfamiliar: "Admiralty" comes out "admirality", "Dominic" is, inexplicably, "Dominique" (most Doms I knew wouldn't like that at all) and "Babineau" is "Babinow". He affects a bizzarre, ostensibly Bostonian, accent for the he crew members and their families, which sounds like a speech impediment.

    Nevertheless, this book is the result of a fine and important piece of journalism and will be of substantial interest and worth the annoyance to anyone enamored of ships, mariners, and tales of survival at sea. I am in that category and it certainly made the dishes and the gym go faster for a week.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Kurt Eichenwald
    • Narrated By Holter Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (97)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (82)

    In 500 Days, master chronicler Kurt Eichenwald lays bare the harrowing decisions, deceptions, and delusions of the eighteen months that changed the world forever, as leaders raced to protect their citizens in the wake of 9/11. Eichenwald's gripping, immediate style and true-to-life dialogue puts readers at the heart of these historic events, from the Oval Office to Number 10 Downing Street, from Guantanamo Bay to the depths of CIA headquarters, from the al Qaeda training camps to the torture chambers of Egypt and Syria.

    Eric says: "Fragmented, uncommented, style gets annoying"
    "Fragmented, uncommented, style gets annoying"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Epic story of catastrophic overreach and callow foolishness told in an endless series of breathless mini-vignettes. Seems the wrong style for such a long treatment.

    Narrator is terrible. Trails off to inaudibility at the ends of his sentences, has one, all purpose, foreign accent (why any?) and can't read: it's ciprofloxacin, not "ciprofloxin"; KAbul, not" KaBOOL" and Dostum, not "Dotsum"!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Right-Hand Shore: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Christopher Tilghman
    • Narrated By Scott Sowers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (8)

    It is 1920, and Edward Mason is making a call upon Miss Mary Bayly, the current owner of the legendary Mason family estate, the Retreat. Miss Mary is dying. She plans to give the Retreat to the closest direct descendant of the original immigrant owner that she can find. Edward believes he can charm the old lady, secure the estate and be back in Baltimore by lunchtime. Instead, over the course of a long day, he hears the stories that will forever bind him and his family to the land.

    Eric says: "Faulkneresque"
    "Faulkneresque"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a very nicely written plantation saga with plenty of sweep and character, as well as an interesting take on race in the antebellum years. The reader is solid enough, but ought to come to Eastern Maryland and hear the local accent someday. His white characters all sounded like Deep South caricatures.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Robert A. Caro
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (844)
    Performance
    (696)
    Story
    (692)

    The Passage of Power follows Lyndon Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career - 1958 to 1964. It is a time that would see him trade the extraordinary power he had created for himself as Senate Majority Leader for what became the wretched powerlessness of a Vice President in an administration that disdained and distrusted him. Yet it was, as well, the time in which the presidency, the goal he had always pursued, would be thrust upon him in the moment it took an assassin’s bullet to reach its mark.

    Abdur Abdul-Malik says: "From Powerful to Powerless"
    "Magnificent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Caro continues his LBJ saga with even greater scope as the Man attains supreme power, but none of the detail and texture is lost. The writing is repetitive and can verge on bombast, but this is still biography at its very finest and great literature by any standard.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters: The Definitive Biography of the First American Billionaire

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Richard Hack
    • Narrated By Dan Cashman
    Overall
    (483)
    Performance
    (187)
    Story
    (191)

    In "the most exciting bio of the year," Richard Hack uses recently uncovered (and in some cases, recently declassified) personal letters, court testimony, FBI files, autopsy reports and exclusive interviews to reveal the man who was a legendary lover, record-setting aviator, award-winning film producer, talented inventor, ultimate eccentric, and, for much of his lifetime, the richest man in the United States.

    Ian says: "Truely Incredible"
    "Gee willikers!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the lively and fascinating story of a brilliant creep with a serious personality disorder, which seems to have matched his times and social milieu perfectly. He appears literally to have been unstoppable by physics or law enforcement, until succumbing to a dreary and debilitating brand of "meshugas". Being under 75, I had to Google pictures of his female conquests, but, I must say, he did phenomenally well in that department. Money, however, is just money.

    Unfortunately, the writing is barely literate. For instance, the word "that" is used uniformly and annoyingly when "which", "who", or "whom" is called for. The reader amplifies the effect by stumbling over words, such as, "camaraderie" and coming up with at least three unique mispronunciations of "Domergue".

    Enjoyable, nonetheless.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel of North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Adam Johnson
    • Narrated By Tim Kang, Josiah D. Lee, James Kyson Lee, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1259)
    Performance
    (1090)
    Story
    (1100)

    Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother - a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang - and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.

    Lisa says: "The most compelling listen I've ever owned"
    "Disappointed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The book starts well, with a convincing setting, taut narrative, and the beginnings of character development, but then wanders aimlessly off into fantasy and gratuitous plot gimmicks.

    I enjoyed the accents and prosody of the apparently Korean narrators, but the good production is wasted on this mediocre novel.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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