After reading this book, here is a once sentence description of Rockefeller.
If Rockefeller was a modern day NFL football player he would be a all pro linebacker who blindsided quarterbacks and put them in the hospital then stepped off the field, went home and baked cookies for the neighborhood kids.
I recall my high school text books dedicated one or two paragraphs of one chapter to "The Robber Barons" and for some strange reason I just assumed that was sufficient to gather the gist of what they were about.
Wow, that a bad assumption.
The actual story of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. is so, so much more than a mere story of a guy who was in the right place at the right time. Chernow's detailed portrait of his life makes him come to life in a way that is vivid and stunning. I am amazed that he was able to reconstruct so much of this man's origins, motivations and feelings as his life unfolded on such a grand stage. What a well done piece of scholarship and what a well done narrative.
At no point in the this book do I feel like Chernow took a side. At some points I felt Rockefeller was a victim of the greed of others, he was taken advantage of and he had really tried to cultivate true goodness in his character. At other moments I was shocked as his aggression and just how hard he charged in his business.
The life and habits of this curious man are on full display. It made me want to take the best of him and make it myself while keeping the worst of him at bay.
The narration is masterful. No complaints there.
Hope you enjoy.
I picked up this book because the third book in the series was nominated for the Hugo award and so I wanted to check it out. I'd never heard of Larry Correia or the book series.
I could not have been more blown away or had more fun with an audio book.
What makes 'Hard Magic' so much fun starts with its setting - it's the Prohibition gangster era, but with one big twist - human beings started gaining magical abilities 60 years prior with greater and greater regularity. The result is that the course of history has changed in many ways while still being somewhat recognizable. In this alternate world the great thinkers, inventors, politicians and athletes of the time are all the same, but augmented through their magical abilities. The result is a very lively and vivid world where Zeppelins still fly, prohibition gangsters spy on each other with demons and assassination can be done with magic.
However, a great setting is just the begging. As we get to know the characters and their magical abilities the come across as very real, human and they have great dialog. As their paths cross and the story arcs come together quickly there is never a dull moment.
The plot moves quickly and the story line builds as we come to understand the motivations of the Grimnoir society - I won't put any spoiler alerts in this review don't worry. In short order the characters start moving toward a worthy and daunting goal and the plot twists start coming in from all sorts of different directions as the story quickly moves from a midwest focused gangster story to a world wide geopolitical thriller pitting a powerful magical Japan against the western powers. (Germany takes a different arc after World War I in this world.)
I really loved the World War I alternative history and felt like the whole story came alive. It was a blast to listen to this story and I immediately picked up the next two books in the series and listened to them without stopping. The whole series is a lot of fun.
The narration by Bronson Pinchot is world class - some of the best narration I've ever heard. His range of voices is fantastic and his emotions comes across with real grit. He has one of those voices that makes you wish every book was narrated by him.
Can't say enough good things about this book. If you like the following, you'll love this book: Turn of the century prohibition era, alternative history, martial arts combat, gun fighting, magic, geo political thrillers and zeppelins. Honestly, what's not to love?
I picked up this book after tearing through the Grimnoir trilogy, wanting to read anything written by Larry Correia. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I struggled when I got started with this book. However, I was patient and gave it several hours. It did improve and I came around and liked it enough to finish and get the next book in the series.
The book revolves around the perspective of two central characters - a middle aged professional thief forced to perform a heist against his will and a young mercenary recruited into a shadowy government organization. Through separate story lines both of them find themselves in a fictional middle eastern country called "Zubarah" (probably named after the real Fort in Qatar) where their paths cross and conflict as they pursue their own objectives.
Once the two characters are established the arc of their story becomes very engaging and the two authors do a great job making you care about both of them.
Like all Larry Correia stories, you can expect that action will take center stage as battle after battle will be narrated in vivid detail. This book is no exception and the fun of the conflicts is all there, much like in the Grimnoir series. The geo-political conspiracy stuff is also fun if you just suspend disbelief and go with it.
The drawbacks of the book all come in the beginning and they are minimized as the book develops. There are a great number of flat, cliche characters in the start of the book. It is a bit tedious to wait through their predictable and flat dialog. However, sit through it and it will pay off.
The narration by Bronson Pinchot is nearly flawless. His range of character voices is amazing and he does a fantastic job (with only one minor exception - one of his female voices sound a little weaker than the characters seems to be). He is a real standout and deserves all five stars anyway.
All in all, if you like Grimnoir and want more, you'll eventually be really happy with this book.
If you are a parent, teacher, coach, manager or leader then I endorse this book wholeheartedly.
The concepts taught in the book are practical and effective. I have already adopted them for my business, my kids little league teams and in my own personal development and found that they allow me to persist and lead others to greater levels of skill and achievement. It is a reliable framework for motivation, skill building and mastery. Using the skills in this book I have been able to make new college graduates adopt practical business and consulting skills that make them more billable for clients. I have enabled 1st and 2nd grade boys to play lacrosse effectively and with joy. Personally I adopted the skills to my own armature hobby - drawing - and seen a substantial improvement in my output.
Chapter 1 lays out the entire framework. If you only listened to chapter 1 and then stopped you'd get 60% of the value of the book. That's not a knock - I appreciated that. There is no reason for a business author to string out their ideas just to force us to get thorough all the material.
After chapter 1 the author expands on his three central ideas one at a time. As my wife and I read this book we both felt the points were getting emphasized over and over and it was a bit repetitive, but I forced myself to endure. I did get value from the repetition and got slightly different ideas from each example.
The narration is a bit cheesy and gimmicky. It's not entirely the narrators fault, the content can be a bit gimmicky from time to time. Again, I thought the underlying ideas were good enough to merit endurance.
I have not sampled lots of books on the general principals of building talent so I have no comparative alternatives for you, however, I am not sure I will seek alternatives right now as I felt this book as sufficient and effective.
I hope you get as much practical application as I did.
If there is a part of you that longs for just a little bit more Robert Heinlein and you've already torn through his great works, then this book is for you.
The story is pure adventure. From the opening moments the story is full of excitement and novelty. The narrator has a great I'm-going-to-sound-a-bit-like-a-ditz-but-it-is-an-act-and-I-am-smarter-than-you tone which captures the first person narrative of the protagonist Friday.
My only critique is that somewhere around 60% of the way through I stared asking myself, "where the heck is this going?" but I didn't really care that much, the story was interesting and so as Heinlein made his explorations of alternative family structures and waxes theoretical about life, I just let it ride.
It is the greatest Heinlein book? No, it isn't. The plot does drag and the characters are not quite as gripping as some of this other works. But if you've already scoured his great works and you're looking for a hidden gem and a little bit more from the great master then this book is for you.
I've been enjoying Stephen King books for over 20 years. In that time, I've read some truly phenomenal works. King is a master story teller and his characters are always so vivid and colorful. I love the way he builds plots and can allow the action to rise to the boiling point. The Dome has all the great elements of a King book and yet, he manages to keep his ideas, characters and interactions original and fresh. No one could say he is slowing down or falling back on cliche King characters.
Yet given the amazing works already produced by King, this book is not going to go on my all time list of great King books. Don't get me wrong, its very good. But is it The Stand? No. I'd say it's about 80% as good as those all time greats. Which means, if it was any other author, it's be an incredible piece of work.
But here is the real reason you need to get this book and why I think anyone will love it.
Raul Esparza (the narrator) is out of this world.
I don't just mean he is good. There are many professional narrators that are good. This guy has performed something that you just have to listen to believe. I'd say this book has at least 50 characters and maybe more. However, when Raul reads it, not only is his inflection and voice for each character distinct, but they are downright masterful. It's not overdone. It's not subtle either. He makes it seem effortless, but it's the kind of elegance that must come by practicing 20 minutes for every one minute of actual reading time. (and probably a lot more)
If you enjoy and appreciate great narration, you will be tremendously entertained by this book. It was such a pleasure to listen to this voice. I hope you have a great time.
It is very difficult to establish any continuity to this story. One minute the main character is on a boat, then a cafe, then he is being shelled, then a cafe again. You cannot keep clear what's happening or how the character is being affected. The establishment of additional characters is non existent. They appear, disappear, no understanding of who they are or why they are meaningful.
This is a really important experience, but it does not come through to the listener. The listener is just confused and therefore does not draw anything from the experience.
The reading and voices are well done. No issues with the professional reading.
I never like writing bad reviews. I wish more editing had been done to tie this together into an experience that a listener could reflect upon. Instead I just felt frustrated and wanted it to be over.
There were 4 great concepts from his speeches that immediately made my life richer, more meaningful and made me a better person.
Kurt's insights into life have always made me pause and reflect.
The conviction and clarity of the reading is dramatic and powerful. It stirs the soul. I listened to the entire performance three times in a row, I enjoyed it so much.
I learned what's wrong with the world. I also learned why it's important to say 'If this isn't nice, what is?' I say it all the time now.
If you're kind of just bopping around and you're hunting for something that will move you. Something that will make you think differently. Something that will allow you to stretch back in time and connect with Kurt Vonnegut while he was still with us, then just go ahead and take this one. For me, it was a voice in the night, a light in the window and a warm fire after the rain.
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