I bought this on a whim because it was on sale. First of all, the reading is very deliberate. I prefer a bit more inflection and tempo to keep my interest. The writing itself is not terrible, but there are numerous redundancies that seemed unnecessary to me (lengthy descriptions of previous sections of the book, for instance).
As an atheist with a strong interest in religion, I was hoping to see more examples of conflicts between "original" texts and current (accepted) biblical translations. However, this book focuses on how these conflicts are detected and why they exist rather than what they are. Some length (too much, probably) is spent regarding why scribes might have intentionally changed wordings when copying texts, for instance, and what manners of evidence is used to detect such changes.
It was an interesting listen, but just not really what I was hoping for.
The performance was just brilliant.
Closest might be something like Trainspotting, just from the point of view of the jargon and the accent, but there's not much really to which to compare it.
The story is good, and I wanted to hate the 21st chapter, but I begrudgingly liked it. Burgess is right. Also, if you don't know the story, skip the author's preface, as it has spoilers!
The first book is worth listening to, especially if you've already read Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." It gives a different view that Shirer's--more detailes in some forms, less detailed in others.
This book ("The Third Reich in Power") is terminally boring, especially in the middle two sections. Listening to hour after hour of the administrative pettiness of the Nazis may be very interesting to a sociologist, but the vast majority of history buffs can probably skip it. The fourth part, getting into the foreign policy during the 30s, finally gets interesting again.
Also, as has been said before, the reader is simply AWFUL. It sounds as if this is the first time he's seen the material, he inserts random pauses, mispronunciations, etc. Just awful.
Still looking forward to the third book.
I think that some miss the point of this book--I don't think it's about Ahab and the white whale. Rather, it's about Ishmael's obsession with whales in general. If you look at it that way, then you won't be looking for the book to get on with the Ahab story. It's also really, really funny at times. The narration is excellent, fabulous, splendid, and other superlatives. He brings out the humor in the book that one would likely miss in reading due to the differences in language style. I'm glad I listened, but by the end I was definitely ready to move on to something else. There are a couple of short chapters that seem out of place and could be removed in an abridgment, but I'm afraid that most of what would get abridged would focus the book on Ahab and the whale, and I really don't think that's the point of the story--just the backdrop for Ishmael's obsession.
All the members of my family that served in WWII served in the Pacific, so I have never researched much about the war in Europe. This book was amazingly detailed and thorough. It was gripping throughout. The reader was the finest I've heard and the standard by which I've measured all since. I caution you that this focuses on the politics of the Third Reich far more than the military exploits--the military stuff is going on in the background, but the main focus is definitely on politics. If you are looking for a military history of the Eurpoean theater, look elsewhere. Also (and this is my only complaint), there's a fair bit of homophobia in the book when Shirer describes many of the early Nazis as "notorious homosexuals and perverts". I recognize that to some extent that's a relic of the time the book was written, but honestly it lowered my (otherwise high) esteem of Shirer a bit. Really an excellent book overall.
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