Jeffrey Archer's fictional interpretation of George Mallory's life and his heroic assault of Mt. Everest is a fascinating story and the narrator does a great job. The novel's strength is in the historical tale and in its description of the times. It is less successful at bringing Mallory to life but it the plot and history make it a compelling tale.
A US president at the end of the 19th century who was only briefly in office, in a world almost unrecognizable by today's standards, wounded by a madman, and eventually dying because of crude medical care and despite the efforts of brilliant men. Sound dry, dull, and tedious? Hardly. It's a mesmerizing story that is engaging on many levels. Interested in American history? You are rewarded by new insights and rarely told, fascinating stories. Do you have any knowledge of medicine? The narrative is a chilling reminder of how recent most medicine is. Unforgettable characters. True heroism. This is a great book that works well in audo form.
An amazing story that is full of memorable and admirable characters. It's not an action-packed thriller but is compelling in its own way. Anyone who knows the history of WWII and enjoys the stories of real-life conmen should enjoy the book. John Lee is a wonderful narrator.
This is not a complete history of the CIA but an exhausting catalog of its many missteps, failures, and errors in judgment and execution. The author uses recently declassified material and extensive interviews with former CIA and government officials as source material for the review. The sometimes comic and often tragic mistakes aren't placed in historical context or examined in great detail (each episode could be its own book) but there is enough to keep you interested and to show the patterns of individual and institutional behavior. It is a sad story and a cautionary tale of the limits of our ability to have good "intelligence". Those interested in a cure will be disappointed; this is a book documenting failures not proposing solutions.
The power of an Islamic fundamentalist state to change the life of one man is well illustrated in this autobiographical account of the Iranian fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Rushdie is well educated, erudite, Muslim by upbringing and family tradition but more an expat Indian and Englishman when his life is turned upside down by the fatwa. This is Rushdie's personal story - more about his family, loves, friendships, and writing than an action/adventure movie. Like most of the educated West I knew that he was threatened but nothing about what that would mean for one man. His relationships with his personal protection team are particulary telling. Parts are rushed, parts are very self indulgent but it is his story and very revealing of the man and his times.
I enjoyed Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori series but am very disappointed in this new book. The Mieji reformation was the birth of modern Japan and must have been a time full of larger than life characters and exciting stories, but you would never know it from this book. This book has several flaws - 1) the characters develop very slowly or not at all, 2) most of the multiple threads of narrative are very superficial and 3) there is a huge cast of named Japanese characters, historical and geographical references that would be difficult to follow even with a glossary of Japanese terms and maps . But the fatal flaw is the lack of a compelling story. The performance was probably good but hard to judge because of my negative feelings for the book.
A war story, a coming of age story, a buddy story and a romance - City of Thieves is all those things and more. The setting during the first winter of the siege of Leningrad with the horrors of war and the totalitarian Communist state is surreal, but completely convincing. There is certainly profanity but it's part of the world and not gratuitous. The narration is superb - although sometimes it is difficult to catch the switch in characters during a conversation. Overall, a great story, that I am listening to for the second time now.
This book is different in scope than Troost's previous books but is similarly sharp and witty. It is at times harsh and unflattering to China but reveals at least as many shortcomings about the author. I would not depend upon Troost for accurate historical or demographic details but he does provide an entertaining perspective on the chaos of modern China as seen by a (far) outsider. For a more balanced view from a China insider I would recommend "China Road". It also is not very flattering to China at times but is not as "over the top" as Troost.
This book is a sequel to "How I paid for college..." and is very similar in style and substance. And that is its strength and weakness. On the plus side it is light and very funny. But the downside is significant with almost no character development from the first book and the plot, narrative and characters are very predictable. I loved the first book, but once was enough.
The title, premise and arguements are intentionally provocative and predictably offend many listeners. However, he does make some good points, although they are sometimes buried in historical detail and statistics that not even Scott Brick can make interesting. I listened to the book in June 2009 by which time the political landscaped of America has had so many changes that it makes many of the book's contentions obsolete. However, the book does predict that previous policies would risk the financial and economic difficulties that have come to pass. It's a sobering analysis.
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