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Aaron Smyth

Member Since 2012

  • 3 reviews
  • 8 ratings
  • 261 titles in library
  • 6 purchased in 2015

  • Caesar

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Colleen McCullough
    • Narrated By Michael York

    It is 54 B.C. Gaius Julius Caesar is sweeping through Gaul. While his victories in the name of Rome are epic, the conservative leaders of the Republic are not pleased -- they are terrified. Where will the boundless ambition of Rome's most brilliant soldier stop? He must be destroyed before he can overthrow the government and install himself as Dictator.

    Charles says: "Not "Abridged" but "BUTCHERED!""
    "Coleen McCullough's belly flop..."

    I love Coleen McCullough's books on Rome. I wish that the first one, "The First Man in Rome", was on Audible. But, this one I could just as well do without. Maybe it had to do with the abridgment. But, this book was SO uneven it its portrayal of people. It amounted to something that McCullough never did in her other books. And, this is a woman who could make Sulla very sympathetic, so much so that I felt badly when the old geezer died in "Fortune's Favorites" - but, that was a much better book.

    I think that McCullough is sexually obsessed with Julius Caesar and that this tends to blur her ability to make him human. With each book, beginning with the precocious youth in "Grass Crown" and then the slightly too-good-to-be-true "Fortune's Favorite", Caesar clearly in her eyes is described in very sexual language at almost every opportunity. But, she wasted no time doing the same with Sulla, but she found him to be, in the end, a murderous autocrat who was still a human being that had endured much and was the way he was for many reasons. To make a figure like Sulla likable is a rare feat. But, to make a man like Caesar somewhat unlikable, well, why can't she do the same thing?

    Caesar does no wrong in this book...even in his brutal and uncharacteristic behavior at the end of the Gallic war, it seems to be brushed aside. That the optimates clearly had the constitution on their side, and that Caesar had pursued a long and horrible illegal war doesn't seem to matter to her. Cato and company come across as clowns instead of human beings trying to save the Republic. And, worse still, Pompey is portrayed as being the Clown-in-Chief. That they might have a point regarding Caesar doesn't cross seem to cross her mind once.

    I wish that she had gone more into the minds of people like Cassius and others who had major and very legitimate gripes against Caesar. Cato most of all. Cicero comes across as a peace-loving dove who is swept aside by the Optimates. I happen to really admire Cicero...and, his role in the Civil War was pure poetry. He saw that Caesar was the better general but went with Pompey out of pure loyalty to his friends (mostly Brutus). Why not focus on this?

    This is such an uneven account of the Civil War that Gaius Julius Caesar brought down on the Republic. He was a corrupt autocrat who wanted rule the world. In fact, the story that could have been followed would be better to watch Caesar go from his youthful idealism to bring a Consular mask to his family to the embittered and lonely dictator who alienated so many people, and in the end only had war to occupy him.

    It is true that men like Marsellus were the worst of the old aristocracy. But, to make Cato into the deranged Stoic really upset me. Cato was the moral compass of the Old Republic that everyone but Caesar respected, even if he was highly unlikable. But, then, so were a lot of other characters that McCullough has explored in her Masters of Rome series.

    I wonder who much the abridgment had to do with this book being the travesty it was in this audio version. I really enjoyed the other two audio books I have listed to by this author. About the only thing I liked in this was that this narrator finally abandoned most of the Latin pronunciations (no more Kik-er-o!)! I do like this particular narrator, actually.

    I suggest you do not waste a credit downloading this book. Listen to the Grass Crown and Fortune's Favorite. They cover events that are far less well known.

    Most books about the Civil War seem to suffer from either a love affair with Caesar (mostly from women writers), or a condemnation that is a bit too severe. Caesar was the best of the twelve Caesars. But, he still was the destroyer of the Republic. Look to Robert Harris's books Imperium and Lustrum for a better balanced account of Julius Caesar!

    It's so hard to condemn a book by an author I really like. Coleen McCullough writes the best prose since Hemmingway about war...and, she doesn't really glorify it anymore than Hemmingway did. She is a very talented author. But, "Caesar" is a flop. Sorry about that, Coleen!

    Like I said...I hope it was the abridgment. Sometimes that can destroy a book. This book in its original form is about 700 pages!

    This gets a decent review for this performance...but overall...SKIP!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Practical Demonkeeping

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Christopher Moore
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In Christopher Moore's ingenious debut novel, we meet one of the most memorably mismatched pairs in the annals of literature. The good-looking one is one-hundred-year-old ex-seminarian and "roads" scholar Travis O'Hearn. The green one is Catch, a demon with a nasty habit of eating most of the people he meets.

    Martin says: "Gets better as it goes ......"

    This was a great book...Christopher Moore is proof that their is still witty and irreligious writing this side of the Atlantic (being the American side, in my case) that is also fun and madcap. He's almost as funny as Douglas Adams, but thankfully much more serious than Terry Pratchett (and does shy away from sex like Terry does so often), Catch is so EVIL yet hilarious...a much better book than his most famous "Lamb"(only famous for its Life of Brian approach), and the narration by Wyman is EXCELLENT (better than Fisher Stevens!) BUY THIS BOOK!

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • And Another Thing...: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Eoin Colfer
    • Narrated By Simon Jones
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Arthur Dent's accidental association with that wholly remarkable book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, has not been entirely without incident.Arthur has traveled the length, breadth, and depth of known, and unknown, space. He has stumbled forward and backward through time. He has been blown up, reassembled, cruelly imprisoned, horribly released, and colorfully insulted more than is strictly necessary.

    John Williams says: "A delightful return to the H2G2 Universe"
    "Better than Mostly Harmless by a long short"

    Simon Jones does a great job of bring Eion Coffer's characters, whom he uses just as well as Douglas Adams often did, to tell a much needed better ending to Mostly Harmless. I loved Douglas, but he is dead...why should his wonderful universe go with him? This is sharp and funny in almost all respect...I especially love the Hillman Hunter character and the Vogon with a conscience, and of course Balric Wallbanger. It was a little slow in the Zaphod bits, but Zaphod was always the least interesting of Douglas's characters, there is a reason his role was limited after the second book. I'm glad Marvin didn't come back...Douglas made it clear he was dead, but Douglas himself admitted he was in a bad depression when he wrote the last book, and was working on a 6th book when he died, so obviously he was planning to reverse the travesty that was Mostly Harmless. Eion Coffer is a great writer...I hope he does another book in the same universe...he stepped into some big shoes...and he pulled it off. Douglas would be proud is he wasn't busy being dead...which I am told is a time consuming event. Coffer was loyal to Douglas characters to almost a fault...he didn't bring Dirk Gently's universe into the Asgard of Hitchhiker's, as Douglas always made it clear that they were not connected universes. And, I hate to say it...and Douglas would probably admit it, but Coffer is better at writing women than Adams...although he is not quite the same level of wit...after all, he's not Douglas, but a very worthy heir.

    Simon Jones is such an excellent voice actor and I don't really have any complaints about his performance, except for maybe Zaphod's voice. Balric was hilarious, and Arthur lived on. They could not have picked a better voice actor to do this book...Simon Jones HAD to do this audio book, really.

    So, quit whining and enjoy...Douglas is dead...but his universe lives on!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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