All in all, this is a great book. The research is excellent and Hughes' story is fascinating, though incredibly depressing. What a pathetic individual. He was brilliant but he was a brilliant, spoiled brat.
The writing is good but has some definite issues. The author frequently describes Hughes thoughts about particular topics as though he knows exactly what Hughes was thinking. Hughes didn't keep a diary and apparently didn't carry on a lot of personal conversations in the latter half of his life, so I don't know how the author would know his intimate feelings. I find this sort of pure invention in biographies annoying. There are also some very wierd similies and metaphors used in the book (unfortunately, it's hard to go back and find an example in an audiobook). Fortunately, the excellent research saves the book from some of the minor failings of the writing itself.
The narrator was very good in tone and pace though I too was astonished at the number of basic mispronunciations.
This was an interesting topic and portions of the debate were very interesting. It is unfortunate that the topic was not better defined as the debators spent as much time arguing over the various definitions of monogamy as they did arguing whether or not it was bad for the soul. It was also clear that the debators on each team had not discussed the topic with one another beforehand as, because of the differing definitions, speakers who were on the same team were indirectly arguing against one another. This was especially evident on the "pro" team where one speaker argued that the human body biologically responded better to having multiple partners while another argued that monogamy was not about fidelity but was about being married only once in a lifetime. If the latter is true, it cancels out the former.
Still, the speakers were amusing and it was worth listening. It's just that the vote was a little anticlimactic since it was clear that the audience (and the debators themselves) didn't have a clear understanding of the question being posed.
This book is obviously intended to be more about the personal lives of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt and their contribution to the events of the time rather than about the events themselves. From that perspective, I enjoyed this book. It is my first FDR biography and I'm keen to read more. Nelson Runger's narration is excellent.
Having recently listened to David McCullough's excellent "Truman," I was a little disappointed to see so little about Truman in this book. Admittedly, Truman and FDR only met twice after Truman became VP, but I would like to have heard what FDR thought of him at least.
This book reads better than many of the novels I've read in recent years. It is a brilliantly written biography, giving an incredibly detailed account of this man's life as well as descriptions of others like Franklin and Jefferson that almost amount to mini-biographies. It must have taken a decade just to research it. I find myself feeling guilty for not paying more attention in my high school history classes. John Adams was an incredible man. I will have to read a good biography of George Washington to find out why he is considered "the father of our country" and not Adams.
Others who read this told me that they loved it, but it seemed mediocre at best to me. I was interested enough to listen all the way through, but then it usually takes a really bad book for me to put it down once I've started. The concept was interesting, but the story was a little repetitive. The guy just keeps getting into the same sort of peril over and over and uses the same tricks to get out of it more than once. He's also repetitive in his narration, using the same phrases countless times to the point where, given a situation, you could almost guess exactly what he'd have to say about it. I had the distinct impression throughout this book that the authors were writing a treatment for a film and didn't care to write a good novel. Granted, this story would probably be much better as a movie.
I've only listened to the interview with Candida Royalle, but was unimpressed. Susie's interview style seems awfully chaotic and she's a little too amused with herself. She talked at least as much about herself as she did her guest. I was disappointed because it sounded like a really interesting show.
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