I was completely absorbed by this audiobook! As a Venezuelan, I superficially studied Bolívar's life and the War of Independence in school, but the version I learned was very politically correct. This book shows both the strengths and weaknesses of The Liberator, and that made the experience all the more enlightening. I wish this had been available when I was a teenager! Personally, I wasn't aware of how brutal all participating sides had been during the conflict! Yikes! In that sense, this was an eye opener. Yes, there was courage and sacrifice, but also a surreal amount of violence and bloodshed. I was shocked and saddened by this perspective. The book includes a lot of detail without ever being even slightly tedious. No matter where you're from, chances are you'll be similarly fascinated with the history. There's much to learn from it and it would easily make an epic blockbuster movie.
The narrator did a great job, only he constantly mispronounces the name of the city of Coro: the accent is on the first syllable, not the second! This is irritating as the city plays a recurrent role in the life of Bolívar and its name is repeated hundreds of times. Crommett's awful pronunciation of French words (mainly names and cities) is also a bit annoying, but there's a very limited number of these. What's most important is that he reads at a very nice pace (not too slowly or too quickly) and both his English and Spanish are very clear.
It's hard to believe that one person alone – Peter Batchelor – is doing all the reading! He does a incredible job! This is one great example in which listening to an audiobook can add a whole new dimension to the story. I could never do all those British accents and tones in my head while reading from a book. It feels like going to the theater. And Batchelor adds just the right amount of comedy without overdoing it. I've watched several film adaptations, and yet this one-man-cast's performance has impressed me the most so far! The pace is a bit quick, though, which could be a problem if you're not a native English speaker (as is my case). I managed fine, but had to put a little extra effort at times.
As for Oliver Twist, it's a great classic and much has already been said about it in other reviews. The only thing that bothers me is that the complex villain Fagin is not only Jewish, but is mostly referred to as "the Jew", as it gives the impression that there could be anti-Semitic feelings behind it. Then again, I've read that Dickens wasn't an anti-Semite and that he later created benevolent Jewish characters. I'd be interested in learning more about it. Otherwise, it's a very touching and often funny story.
At the time I purchased the audiobook, it cost only $1.95, which is quite a bargain.
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