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Aaron

ratings
31
REVIEWS
11
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
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HELPFUL VOTES
1

  • Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific: A Young Marine's Stirring Account of Combat in World War II

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Robert Leckie
    • Narrated By James Badge Dale, Tom Hanks
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (120)
    Performance
    (112)
    Story
    (110)

    The celebrated 2010 HBO miniseries The Pacific, winner of eight Emmy Awards, was based on two classic books about the War in the Pacific, Helmet for My Pillow and With The Old Breed. Audible Studios, in partnership with Playtone, the production company co-owned by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and creator of the award-winning HBO series Band of Brothers, John Adams, and The Pacific, as well as the HBO movie Game Change, has created new recordings of these memoirs, narrated by the stars of the miniseries.

    Aaron says: "Engaging Account of the War in “The Pacific”"
    "Engaging Account of the War in “The Pacific”"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a review of two books, “With the Old Breed” and “Helmet for My Pillow.” HBO based its miniseries “The Pacific,” on these books, and Audible Studios and Playtone recently made new recordings of both books. If, like me, you were interested in both, hopefully this will help sort out how they stack up. In short, both are worth the listen, but if you only wish to get one, go with “With the old Breed.”

    “With the Old Breed” is the war diary of E.B. Sledge (a.k.a. “Sledgehammer”). Although not an author by trade Sledge is obviously very intelligent and well-spoken. He writes like he was telling the story to his family, which is, in fact, apparently why Sledge wrote the book in the first place. Sledge describes his experiences at the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa, but also describes his training prior to the battles. The scenes are graphic and disturbing at times, but no doubt accurate.

    It’s been said before that Sledge’s book is required reading for anyone thinking of joining the Marines, and I think this must be correct. For officers, Sledge’s account as a private depicts and describes the traits of the “good” officers verses the, let’s call them, “not so good” officers. It’s a veritable “how to” earn and command the respect and admiration of your men, which may be useful for any person in a leadership position to know. For the enlisted men, the book is a very real account of the inglorious nature of war. Wars are not fought to win honors, and no-one should join up in search of glory and fame. As Sledge says, often, it’s a “waste.”

    As for the narration, Mazzello is a good actor, but a little slow. I’d recommend listening at 1.25% speed at least, or else it just drags on.

    “Helmet for my Pillow” is Robert Leckie’s account of his experiences in the war. Leckie fought at Guadalcanal, New Britain, and Peleliu, but also writes considerably about his “debauchery” in Australia between the battles. His prose (and even his poetry) are quite well-written, and you get a good sense of what life must have been like in the Pacific when the fighting was not going on.

    The book is also well narrated. Dale tells the story with good pacing, tone, and vocal color throughout. (By the way, Tom Hanks phones in his introductions for both books, which is disappointing).

    In comparison, although there are many similarities to the realities of war, the books are very different. Leckie’s book is much better written than Sledge’s, but perhaps not as engaging from a story-telling perspective. Also, these two Marines could not be more different in character. Sledge is a boy-scout, whereas Leckie is a rogue, spending it seems more time in the brig, than in battle. This is not likely a fair comparison, given the horrific things both privates had to put up with, but Leckie comes off as less sympathetic than Sledge.

    Overall, if you choose only one of these two books, I recommend “With the Old Breed,” but really I’d recommend both books to anyone, even those not interested in history. These are not stale accounts of dates and locations and troop numbers. These are firsthand accounts of the horrors of war, which is something later generations (such as my own) luckily have not experienced to this extreme. The people Sledge and Leckie describe are real people, not just characters. When they died, or were injured, or went crazy, these things really happened, which is, I think, something worth remembering.

    Read the book(s), and thank a veteran when you see one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, The Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Edward Dolnick
    • Narrated By Alan Sklar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1029)
    Performance
    (770)
    Story
    (782)

    The Clockwork Universe is the story of a band of men who lived in a world of dirt and disease but pictured a universe that ran like a perfect machine. A meld of history and science, this book is a group portrait of some of the greatest minds who ever lived as they wrestled with natures most sweeping mysteries. The answers they uncovered still hold the key to how we understand the world.

    Alison says: "The Royal Society comes alive."
    "Oddly Dry for a Book About Mathematics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    “The Clockwork Universe” is a good book, but it suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. It’s not quite a biography of Isaac Newton, nor is it quite a book about the Royal Society, nor is it really a layman’s guide to understanding scientific revelations of the 17th Century, although at various points “Clockwork Universe” tries to be each of these things. For most of the book, it felt like the author repurposed a dissertation comparing Newton with Leibniz in their lives and in their calculus, added some bits about the Royal Society, and slapped a title on it.

    This, however, should not discourage anyone from reading “The Clockwork Universe.” There are many parts that are done just right. For example, Dolnick does a really good job setting the scene, given, after all, this was essentially the middle ages or close enough thereto. The life experiences of Newton and others are vastly different from life today. Also, we take for granted many things in this world, many things that someone at some point actually had to figure out, such as, for example, linier graphs. Those portions of the book where various individuals figured things out for the first time were quite inspiring and interesting.

    The narration by Sklar is spot on. Trouble is, however, much of the book requires readers to picture graphs and pictures in their mind, and with the narration, it’s easy to get lost. This might be one of those books where it’s better to read long with the hard copy, starting and stopping the audio as needed or desired.

    This may be comparing apples to oranges, but for those interested in great thinkers in science, I’d recommend “Einstein: His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By E. B. Sledge
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor, Joe Mazzello, Tom Hanks
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (213)
    Performance
    (199)
    Story
    (201)

    The celebrated 2010 HBO miniseries The Pacific, winner of eight Emmy Awards, was based on two classic books about the War in the Pacific, Helmet for My Pillow and With The Old Breed. Audible Studios, in partnership with Playtone, the production company co-owned by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and creator of the award-winning HBO series Band of Brothers, John Adams, and The Pacific, as well as the HBO movie Game Change, has created new recordings of these memoirs, narrated by the stars of the miniseries.

    Richard says: "This is the second audio book of Sledge's work"
    "Engaging Account of the War in “The Pacific”"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a review of two books, “With the Old Breed” and “Helmet for My Pillow.” HBO based its miniseries “The Pacific,” on these books, and Audible Studios and Playtone recently made new recordings of both books. If, like me, you were interested in both, hopefully this will help sort out how they stack up. In short, both are worth the listen, but if you only wish to get one, go with “With the old Breed.”

    “With the Old Breed” is the war diary of E.B. Sledge (a.k.a. “Sledgehammer”). Although not an author by trade Sledge is obviously very intelligent and well-spoken. He writes like he was telling the story to his family, which is, in fact, apparently why Sledge wrote the book in the first place. Sledge describes his experiences at the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa, but also describes his training prior to the battles. The scenes are graphic and disturbing at times, but no doubt accurate.

    It’s been said before that Sledge’s book is required reading for anyone thinking of joining the Marines, and I think this must be correct. For officers, Sledge’s account as a private depicts and describes the traits of the “good” officers verses the, let’s call them, “not so good” officers. It’s a veritable “how to” earn and command the respect and admiration of your men, which may be useful for any person in a leadership position to know. For the enlisted men, the book is a very real account of the inglorious nature of war. Wars are not fought to win honors, and no-one should join up in search of glory and fame. As Sledge says, often, it’s a “waste.”

    As for the narration, Mazzello is a good actor, but a little slow. I’d recommend listening at 1.25% speed at least, or else it just drags on.

    “Helmet for my Pillow” is Robert Leckie’s account of his experiences in the war. Leckie fought at Guadalcanal, New Britain, and Peleliu, but also writes considerably about his “debauchery” in Australia between the battles. His prose (and even his poetry) are quite well-written, and you get a good sense of what life must have been like in the Pacific when the fighting was not going on.

    The book is also well narrated. Dale tells the story with good pacing, tone, and vocal color throughout. (By the way, Tom Hanks phones in his introductions for both books, which is disappointing).

    In comparison, although there are many similarities to the realities of war, the books are very different. Leckie’s book is much better written than Sledge’s, but perhaps not as engaging from a story-telling perspective. Also, these two Marines could not be more different in character. Sledge is a boy-scout, whereas Leckie is a rogue, spending it seems more time in the brig, than in battle. This is not likely a fair comparison, given the horrific things both privates had to put up with, but Leckie comes off as less sympathetic than Sledge.

    Overall, if you choose only one of these two books, I recommend “With the Old Breed,” but really I’d recommend both books to anyone, even those not interested in history. These are not stale accounts of dates and locations and troop numbers. These are firsthand accounts of the horrors of war, which is something later generations (such as my own) luckily have not experienced to this extreme. The people Sledge and Leckie describe are real people, not just characters. When they died, or were injured, or went crazy, these things really happened, which is, I think, something worth remembering.

    Read the book(s), and thank a veteran when you see one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dune

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Frank Herbert
    • Narrated By Scott Brick, Orlagh Cassidy, Euan Morton, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9587)
    Performance
    (5261)
    Story
    (5336)

    Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Maud'dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream.

    Joshua says: "Wonderful production!"
    "Needs More Spice."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was excited to read/listen to this book because it is well-regarded and often considered a classic must-read in the sci-fi genre. Indeed, I found Dune to be imaginative, creative, and mostly interesting. However, it suffers from a number of major issues that reduced my enjoyment of the book.

    First is the general shift in pace and tone of the book. Book 1 (of 3) is good. It’s filled with intrigue, betrayal, drama and plots-within-plots. Everyone’s out to get everyone else. You don’t know who to trust, and you don’t trust who you know. This reminded me of a cross between "Game of Thrones" and the "Ender’s Shadow" series, which I enjoyed. However, the pacing of Book 2 and all but the last 30 minutes of Book 3 is completely different. The story completely shifts from the intrigue that filled Book 1, to a singular story of survival, travel, and integration. This part is imaginative, but the drama and intrigue are gone.

    Second, the performance was inconsistent. Don’t get me wrong, the narrators did a good job, but the audio book shifts at random parts between simple one-reader narration to multi-reader performances. The performance parts are fun, except that the same actor will read different characters with the same voice, which is confusing if you do not know who is supposed to be in the scene. Then on the flip side, because of the shift from narration to performance in parts, one character can be voiced by two actors in a single chapter. This is less confusing than it is just annoying. There is no rhyme or reason to explain this odd hodgepodge performance. In short, whoever edited this audiobook should be fired, and whoever produced it should be dragged out in the street and shot.

    Overall, unless you are a super hard-core sci-fi reader (which I’m not), then I recommend just skipping this one. Moderate readers of sci-fi might be better off with a different audio version (if one is available) or just reading the book.

    A disappointing 3 stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • 1984: New Classic Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By George Orwell
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3945)
    Performance
    (2500)
    Story
    (2530)

    George Orwell depicts a gray, totalitarian world dominated by Big Brother and its vast network of agents, including the Thought Police - a world in which news is manufactured according to the authorities' will and people live tepid lives by rote. Winston Smith, a hero with no heroic qualities, longs only for truth and decency. But living in a social system in which privacy does not exist and where those with unorthodox ideas are brainwashed or put to death, he knows there is no hope for him.

    Mehra says: "A must read!"
    "“New Classic” -- Double Plus Good Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There is a very good reason why this novel makes nearly everyone’s top 10 best novels of all-time list. It’s brilliant and also scary in its predictive power. Don’t take my word for it, just read the book. No one in modern society should ever be comfortable with anything in the world resembling Oceania in 1984. Down with Big Brother!

    This review, however, is primarily a review of the audio edition narrated by Simon Prebble. If you are going to read 1984, and you should read 1984, then listening to this performance is the way to go. Every character is uniquely and consistently voiced, so much so that it feels like a full cast recording. Winston is portrayed with real emotion, especially in Part III, and it is nearly impossible not to feel what he feels. Prebble’s performance is double plus good, in every sense of the word.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth: A Signature Performance by Tim Curry

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Jules Verne
    • Narrated By Tim Curry
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1188)
    Performance
    (999)
    Story
    (984)

    A Signature Performance: Tim Curry, the source of our inspiration, returns – this time, he captures the quirky enthusiasm of this goofily visionary adventure.

    Ramon says: "Feels like Jules Verne"
    "Journey to the Center of a Clasic Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It’s a classic. You know the story: Brendan Fraser, some kid, and a mute descend into an extinct volcano to journey to the center of the earth, and face trials and tribulations along the way. Yeah, some of the perils are a little forced, and the word “electricity” is both misused and overused, but heck the book was written in 1864, so what do you expect. Seriously though, if you haven’t yet read it, do so. It’s worth it.

    I must say, however, that I am more than slightly disappointed with Tim Curry’s performance. Don’t get me wrong, he has a great voice, good pacing, and nice tone, but he uses character voices inconsistently. For example, his voice for the uncle suits the character well, but far too often he slips and uses the same voice for the narrator, which is confusing and irritating because I’m not sure who is saying what. Other than that, great job, especially with pronouncing “Snæfellsjökull.”

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Michael Hainey
    • Narrated By Dan John Miller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (38)

    Michael Hainey had just turned six when his uncle knocked on his family's back door one morning with the tragic news: Bob Hainey, Michael's father, was found alone near his car on Chicago's North Side, dead, of an apparent heart attack. Thirty-five years old, a young assistant copy desk chief at the Chicago Sun-Times, Bob was a bright and shining star in the competitive, hard-living world of newspapers, one that involved booze-soaked nights that bled into dawn. And then suddenly he was gone.

    sheila kehoe says: "Son's Search for Father Brings on Self-knowledge"
    "Wrong Turn Down Memory Lane"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I’m certain of 3 things after reading this book: (1) the search for information about his father was a critical and fulfilling journey in the personal development of the author; (2) the author is a skilled writer capable of both telling a story and setting a scene; and (3) I just do not care. The problem here is that the search is deeply personal for the author, but there no effort expended in developing why the reader should really care about this father or this son. As a result, the reader does not really share in the fulfillment of the author, and at the end of the day, the question I really want answered is why I just spent 8 hours listening to this book.

    I echo the comments of other reviewers in saying that the book is just too long and contains too much filler. It’s a mildly interesting story that would be better told in an article. As it is, it’s a book that should be skimmed in a couple hours on an airplane. It’s not a story in which you can get immersed.

    Two stars.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 1776

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By David McCullough
    • Narrated By David McCullough
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4601)
    Performance
    (1792)
    Story
    (1801)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: If you ever thought history was boring, David McCullough’s performance of his fascinating book will change your mind. In this stirring audiobook, McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence, when the whole American cause was riding on their success.

    Mark says: "Front Seat on History"
    "Good history, poor execution."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Yes. It’s educational.


    What aspect of David McCullough’s performance would you have changed?

    Honestly, I was rather disappointed with McCullough’s reading in general. He just didn’t seem to capture his own writing well enough, and I thought his writing was just fine. I would have hired a professional narrator. Edward Herman, anyone?


    Did 1776 inspire you to do anything?

    To find out what happened in 1777.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Book Thief

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Markus Zusak
    • Narrated By Allan Corduner
    Overall
    (8464)
    Performance
    (6600)
    Story
    (6630)

    It's just a small story really, about, among other things, a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can't resist: books.

    Shannon says: "Word Thief"
    "Get the book, skip the audio book, or just skip."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It’s a girl coming of age book, set in Nazi Germany, the plot of which can be summarized as follows: Girl befriends man, then girl befriends boy, then girl befriends Jew, then girl befriends the mayor’s wife, then . . . well you get the point. There are some interesting characters. The plot isn’t bad, although it is not super engaging. It’s a tough era and subject matter to write about, and I just do not think Zusak really nailed it, at least not for the adult male reader. But hey, it’s narrated by death, so there’s a plus.

    I know some people really, really love this book. Maybe I would have liked it more in book form rather than as audio book. The narration was good, but there are too many asides and footnotes to really make this translate well to audio. Plus there is a whole book inside a book, which has pictures, which of course you do not get. So if you are interested in the subject matter, or if you like girl coming of age stories, then pick up the book. Otherwise, just skip it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Hunger Games

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Suzanne Collins
    • Narrated By Carolyn McCormick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (34937)
    Performance
    (26006)
    Story
    (26373)

    Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

    Teddy says: "The Book Deserves The Hype"
    "It's fine. (Spoilers)"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It’s a girl coming of age book, set in a dystopian future, but you already knew that. For a male reader, an adult male reader at that, it’s difficult to connect to the heroine, and the two male love interests are rather unremarkable and unsympathetic. (I mean come on, if these are the only two options, no wonder she’s confused. Sack up, gentlemen.). Then there is the main premise of the book, children fighting to the death for sport. Now, I read/watch/listen sci-fi of all sorts and can suspend my disbelief for almost anything. Time travel? Great. Alternative dimensions? Sure. Giant alien robots that eat your souls? Fun. But people acting outside of human nature? No. I just find it too hard to believe that any society could ever exist, or last for 74 years, where the principal entertainment is watching children fight to the death. Sure the romans and others watched men fight to the death for sport, but those were adult men. And sure the Aztecs sacrificed thousands of children to Tlaloc, but that was religion and the people need rain. But children fighting to the death for sport . . . I just don’t buy it.

    This does not necessarily mean I disliked the book. The story is easy to listen to on a long car ride, the narration is well performed, and I will most likely listen to the two sequels. I particularly liked some of the creative death-traps in the arena.

    A few small changes, such as development of the political history of the century preceding the story and upping the age of the tributes by at least 5 years would have made this a really good book, as opposed to just pulp.

    I recommend “Ender’s Game” instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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