This is a short book that can be gone through in an afternoon of housework. I think it rather a pleasant choice for listening.
A lot of reviewers have mentioned that Cavett is not a good fit. I agree because Cavett brings with him a personality that just doesn't fit with the background of the books narrator. Can you imagine Cavett as the child of a dead end family in the depression? I can't. It was painful at times to hear him trying to rise to the demands of the text - like imitating the baying of the Bumpess's hounddogs.
Well, we all know it was a product of a movie in that the short stories contained in this volume were taken from other texts that the movie was based on.
The producers of this audiobook thought it crafty to include sound effects alongside the narration. This was a big mistake. It doesn't work. It makes it difficult to listen to at times because it seems like there is a TV or a radio on somewhere in the room and it becomes distracting. The sounds are too literal and too cute at times. I think most readers would prefer to hear only the reader and nothing else. We are all smart enough to imagine the sounds we are meant to hear as the text is revealed to us.
I liked that the author chose to stick with his "Company D" and not wander off into the politics of the era or the grander scope of the war. You get a clear sense of his mission to shed light on his grandfather's part in the war and you feel a sense of satisfaction for him when he achieves that goal. That is also the downside to this story. A lot of repetition. A lot of "didn't we just read about that part of the battle?". Also, the frame of this story which the author clearly delineated at the beginning, means that no credit or acknowledgment of the commonwealth countries is given for their part in the war which was obviously a greater part of the overall story of the war. A newcomer to history might think that WWI was a minor skirmish that the Americans fought to save Europe from itself.
Didn't I just answer that?
I can tell you what I didn't like about the performance which is my reason for knocking off points from this otherwise enjoyable read. The producers and or the reader should have done their homework when it comes to proper pronunciation of European terms of that era. It was the writer's goal to keep the memory of his grandfather's war alive and the production team could have at least honoured him by getting such commonly used words (back then) as Boche and poilus right. (For the record Boche is pronounced "bawsh" not "bowsh" and poilus is pronounced "pwa-loo" not "poy-lus"). Hearing these mispronunciations dozens of times throughout the performance drove me to turn off the recording and return to the hardcover copy. It was shameful to hear such carelessness especially in these enlightened times. Also, though no fault of the reader, the sound effect "pup-pup-pup" used to illustrated the sound of the machine guns was over-used and tiresome. It drove home what an average day in no-man's land must have sounded like but it lost it's meaning after the twelve or thirteenth use of it. It is used at least once a chapter.
If you can let the deficiencies of the production slide, it is a very good "you-are-there" story of ordinary men in battle during WWI. War is not romanticized and the author is not sentimental about the time period.
Normally I prefer unabridged readings but this is a book that would have benefited from a tighter read. Too much "going over the same ground" quite literally as the author retraces the steps of several soldiers in the same company through the same battle. The effect is to hear about a battle being fought over and over and over again.
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