GM Fraser was a real historian, and a WWII vet, so he was the perfect person to show the real history of some of the most infamous battles of all time through a clever lense. Harry Flashman, the bully of Tom Brown's "School Days" lives a full life as the explemplary war hero in every famous military action of British Empire from the 1840's to 1900. Now in his 80s he writes a secret memoir revealing how he was actually a coward, cheat, rake and general cad. The papers, "discovered" in the 1960's later are raw, wry and very very real in its depiction of (in this the first episode) one of the most infamous, stupid and senseless military disasters, the retreat from Kabul.
This is the first audio book I have bought where I had read the book previously, but this and the 4th book of the series are my favorite books of all time. I would, on my more critical days give it a 4 because it did not incorporate the fascinating footnotes. However, upon reflection, I could not actually see how they would have done it. Still, I wish they had included a reading of the footnotes as an addendum, as Fraser uses them to add clarifications and minor corrections to Flashman's recollections. As many other historians have noted, the Flashman papers, though fiction could be used as history textbooks. American readers will be fascinated by the stories (not taught in our schools) of the various British military disasters, and the other novels dealing with US history will no doubt fascinate the British readers.
The charm of the story is the old man telling the story of the young man with all the remembrances and retrospective insights. The narration captures this well, though the youthful voices and female voices are not as convincing as the old Flashman and other senior characters.
Americans would have done well to have read this book prior to invading Afghanistan.
This book, really digs into the public psyche and scientific thinking of the late 1800's and early 1900's. All the while you experience through multiple perspectives, the horrors of the Amazon. I myself will never complain about the occasional mosquito bite again.
It is fascinating on every level of which there are many. If one has any complaints about this book, one must take it up with history, which of course seldom ties up events in an easy to unwrap present. Recommended
I do not know how Mr. Correia does this. I was basically tricked into his Monster Hunter books, something I thought I had no chance of liking at all given my tastes, which at my age you would think I would understand. To my surprise and delight, I loved them. Still, I figured it was a fluke, but when I saw this book as a special deal i decided to take a risk, even though I am not a fan of magic, alternative histories nor noir novels. But despite the fact that this is very much all three of these things, I found this one of the most fun books I have read in years. The aforementioned slighted genres cannot dim the author's skill at pacing, plot, and creation of great characters. I am pretty sure he could write a phone book that would have you sitting on the edge of your seat.
A couple of asides: in this book I ended up liking almost all the characters, even most of the villains. My favorite character is not the main character, but of the beautifully voiced Faye. While she was unexpected and exquisitely written, the voicing of her innocent hick genius made the book for me. The quality and uniqueness of the voices in this audiobook will have me looking for other books that Mr. Pinchot narrates.
Generally speaking I think 5 star reviews are more personal than 4 stars. 4 stars means the book is good generally speaking. But 5 stars really about a good book that exactly fits you. The Martian is a book that most people can enjoy, but those who love science, problem solving and man versus nature (why have evil characters when reality can provide all the needed conflict in the world?) will like me, stay up half the night finishing it. The book is paced perfectly, with exactly the right amount of switching between the astronaut and the home front stories. I would not suggest this book as a high school science class reading, partly for the language, but mainly because teenagers are already having too much fun and this would just be too much for the little ingrates.
This really is a precursor to Douglas Adams, but a more cerebral, acid trip version, less out loud guffawing, more satire and wry pokes at themes that apparently have come around again on the wheel.
Part of me wonders if Douglas Adams was being truthful when he said he had not read it. Everything was there, except perhaps the towel. Still, the real effect of this book is to make you appreciate Douglas Adams even more.
For those who loved the Forever War, or Starship Troopers, or even Startide Rising, this is a must book. While the space opera setting is standard, almost to the point of distraction, and the military memes have all been seen before, Scalzi's core twist, of old people fighting a war, freshens them up just enough to keep things going, especially when confronted with child warriors. Good science fiction makes you think and relate to current times without rubbing your nose in it. Scalzi makes it fun and a great read.
Those that enjoy space opera, will both enjoy this book, as well as be bemused with the pretentions of a serious character drama. I was, as in the first book a little put off by the overly evil and stupid enemies. However, sitting now, as the country prepares to go off a fiscal cliff, I have to admit that powerful people really can be that stupid.
Still, I reserve the last star because some improbably plot twists and unlikely coincidences do shine through. Still recommended
As in Red Shirts, Scalzi can swing from farce to serious thought provoking ideas faster than any writer alive. The narration by Wil Wheaton has made me retroactively downrate many previous narrators. This book is highly recommended.
I enjoyed this book as much as any in years, but was prepared to give it 4 stars on the theory that you had to be a certain kind of reader to fully enjoy it. But then i realized, this is my review, so if you are a tech nerd, understand the music industry problems, a science fiction and Douglas Adams fan, then you are in for a custom made treat. (If you are old enough to remember music from the 70's in its first pass, bonus points.) If not, then read this as 4 stars, and weep for your loss.... Reid's humor is not as joke dense as Adams, but is much more wry and meta, which makes the choice of Hodgman as a narrator perfect. He does things with the reading that no other narrator I have heard could have pulled off. He delivers the many gems in this book so perfectly you would swear he wrote the book.
I will be looking at any book Reid writes, and any book Hodgman reads, but any more that they do together will definitely get my credits.
I rank Suarez's "Daemon" as one of the best books to come out in years, and was really looking forward to this book. However, instead of the creative, techno savy writing of Daemon, Kill Decision is a techo-military thriller modeling Clancy far too closely. Instead of Clancey's right wing politics, Saurez's left wing paradoxical techno-phobia is laid over the story like... well, a burdensome pheromone. The plot line contains multiple inconsistencies and blatantly artificial devices that distracted from what is certainly an action filled plot.
The overly humane and competent main characters are clever and well connected... except when they need not to be. Two highly improbable ravens serve as organic drone substitutes clearly designed to smooth over plot needs of the moment. There is even the stiffly written obligatory sex scene. Evil characters are the thinnest and least believable of the book. I also failed to really embrace Suarez's almost palpable fear of drone technology itself. I know too many fighter pilots and bomber pilots who did their jobs honorably, but with the unquestioning machine like precision of autonomous drones to really fear these things any more than the existing technology.
Still, even with all that, Suarez does piece together an action packed, albeit inconsistently plotted page turner that delivers some good scenes. The audio narration is excellently done. Here is hoping that in the future he steps away from trying to imitate Clancy, and lightens up a bit, to get back to the originality of books like Daemon.
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