Nothing could have made this a 5-star experience, but having a different reader might have moved it up to 3 stars.
There really isn't a lot of historical accuracy or insight in this book. The reader just went by a historical marker for a city that isolated itself during the plague and decided to make up a story about it. It's not a bad story, but I wanted to come away with a real understanding of what it was like to live through the plague. I didn't.
I know that the reader (author) can't help that she has a monotone, somewhat whiney voice, but one wonders what editor could possible have allowed her to proceed with this endeavor. At times, she writes with considerable passion, but her reading never has even the slightest hint of passion. It is almost a parady of bad reading. There are absolutely no dynamics in her performance at all. Most computers speak with considerably more enthusiasm and emotion. It really wrecked what was only an OK book anyway.
If you've never though about what it must have been like to have the people surrounding you dropping like flies from disease, this book might cause you to think about it. It won't give you much insight into what it was like, but it might raise the subject in your mind. Some of the relationships in the book are moderately interesting.
A not terribly interesting book on a really interesting topic.
When I was in high school, I read "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich". I just listened to it on Audible. It really is an extraordinary book about a truly unbelievable series of events. I really think everyone should read or listen to it at least once. If you think you know the story, trust me you don't. It is long to be sure, but I can't recommend it highly enough. Listen to it. It will change the way you think about everything.
If you want a moderately interesting but unreflective diary of Genghis Khan's life, you will enjoy this book. If you are looking for an interpretation of the historical setting in which Genghis Khan lived or the impact of his life on future events, keep looking.
You can't help but be impressed, sobered, scared, and angered by the true-life story told by Brigitte Gabriel. She is articulate, thoughtful, and brave and has seen radical Islam from a perspective few in the USA can share. Her great fear is that the same tragedy that befell Lebanon also awaits us because we too will fail to understand the enemy until it is too late. If you have ever worried that it may not be possible to negotiate with radical Islam, then this book will probably confirm your worst fears.
It is unfortunate, however, that the author doesn't limit her book to describing what she has seen and experienced, because when she wanders into analysis, generalizations, and solutions, her voice is not so sure.
For example, she vilifies the ACLU with a contempt that simply could not be conveyed if she weren't reading the book herself. It is also understandable that she would have a warm spot for Israel since they were much kinder to her than was her own country, but she puts Israel on a pedestal that the facts just don't support. Finally, she seems to jump from legitimate concerns about the threat of militant Islam to total support for everything the Right in this country has proposed without so much as glancing around for alternatives.
I found her story very compelling and frightening which I think was her main objective. However, I think her solutions could use some work.
This is an amazing story. In hard copy I'd call it a page turner. I often found myself annoyed that I had arrived at work and would have to wait for my commute home to continue the story.
The diligence and perseverance of the scientists searching for a cure for bacterial infections is humbling. The fact that the German dye companies didn't realize for several years that sulfa was the dog rather than the tail in their complicated dye-based formulations is a classic example of myopia. And the story of how the FDA came into existence due to the excesses of the patent drug makers is something few people know.
However, this story is not only interesting; it is very relevant to today's world. With more and more bacteria developing immunity to our miracle drugs, it is sobering to remember that we may be heading back to a time when people routinely died from an infected wound or a tooth abscess. The stories of the pre-sulfa world should give us pause.
When you can take a subject this serious and make it entertaining, sensitive, informative, funny, and most of all persuasive, you should be congratulated with lots of superlatives. Julia's journey paralleled mine so closely that I'm surprised we didn't meet each other on the path. Regardless of your religious persuasion, listen to this recording. You owe it to yourself.
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