This is an amazingly complete and fantastically researched history, delving deeply into many elements of late-war and postwar Japan that I knew little or nothing of. The extensive use of Japanese sources adds a most interesting element to the book.
The narration, however, was well below the quality of the author's work. I do think it would be a challenging book to narrate -- with many Japanese terms -- but that doesn't excuse the many instances of surprising pronunciation of even English terms and the many instances of inappropriate verbal emphasis.
The book provides a wonderful reminder of the earliest instances of European contact with the new world, providing excellent accounts of the pre-Mayflower period, too neglected in the history studies of most Americans. I would recommend the book to those who would like to better understand the earliest history of the development of the New World by Europeans.
I would have been happier with a bit less on the present-day goings on at many of the sites discussed in the book and the detailed descriptions of activities of some of the descendants of the earlier peoples. Frankly, a very long discussion of the process of sitting in a smoke-filled, very hot tent as some sort of reenactment of an old ritual was pretty boring.
The few negatives I perceived were far outweighed, though, by the positives.
Tony Horwitz is a better writer than he is a narrator. I found his voice and spoken style (and too-frequently mispronounced words) to be a bit grating. The audio book would have benefitted form a better narrator.
But it is DEFINITELY worth your time.
Connelly never disappoints. Great characters, plausible behavior, tightly-constructed plots that make sense in retrospect, but are mystifying beforehand. One of the best authors in the genre.
Good, tight plot, including things that give you early clues, but which you don't recognize. The story hangs together -- just a bit of humor, but not forced or phoney. Enjoyed it.
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