What a book! What an extraordinary narrative performance! The sheer human carnage and historical folly of WW II painstakingly, brilliantly detailed. Reading/Listening to books such as The Storm of War ought to be considered a civic duty.
Booklist calls Keegan "the most popular, and perhaps the best, contemporary writer of military history." I'd say he's one of the best contemporary writers of any genre, and a writer whose books belong on the shelves with the greatest writers of all time. Why? The extraordinary insight Keegan brings to his a very complex subject, matched, as is the case with all great stylists, a command of language equal to the task. Keegan is primarily an historian with no axes to grind but one who rather, in book after book, brings his axe (a jazz term for instrument) to providing a profound human understanding of a subject I had always thought boring until I picked my first JK book, The Face of Battle. This by now great classic looks at battle from the foot soldier's perspective (four different battles spanning over 1500 years) with the purpose of understanding, psychologically, behaviorally, historically, and, put it this way -- humanly -- what is going one in such scenarios of carnage and death. Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda, is no less exceptional. Keegan takes on our age's mesmerizing fixation with intelligence and gives a stressed warning for those fighting al Qaeda to "shorten their swords" i.e, battles are won not by intelligence but by engaging (and in this case infiltrating) the enemy. Intelligence in War is all about the limits of intelligence in war as it spans in great and intriguing detail specific cases that illuminate given subsidiary points of the thesis.
This book is engrossing. Even at this far removed distance in time, and despite of all we know about it, the details of this story are shocking. The presentation is impassioned and at the same time matter of fact and direct about the decades of presidential deception on Vietnam. E.g., Elsberg is listening to a President Johnson speech and notes his reaction and details the lies LBJ told in it. Four presidents lied about Vietnam. All of the four ignored the best advice from the military advisors on what it would take to "win": all the presidents did less but hoped that what they did would bring a resolution to the conflict. An excellent narrator, perfect for this book, Dan Cashman. The introduction and some of the chapters are narrated by the 70-something Daniel Ellsberg. It's a winner.
Fredrick Davidson does a masterful job of rendering the characters and in my opinion the author's intent in this, the last and arguably greatest of Dostoyevsky's major novels. The very long book should become accessible through this unabridged recording. Buy it and enjoy it: it's a great experience -- as well as being a steal! I've read the book twice; and my understanding and enjoyment of this classic has significantly deepened with Davidson's performance. For instance, Davidson's rendition of the father reveals a dramatically more twisted and demented character that I was able to fathom by my reading alone. Alyosha's great goodness of heart is given more body and substance than I gained through reading. And importantly Davidson's interpretations are justified, in my opinion.
Dostoyevsky is melodrama brought to high art. It is instructive to know that Dostoyevsky's own father was murdered by his serfs -- they forced vodka down his throat and he literally drowned in the stuff; that as a convicted "radical" he was put through a mock execution; that he had epilepsy, that he was a compulsive gambler, and thankfully, a compulsive sub-vocalizer of voices of fragments of himself and his experience that he rendered into great art. His life imitated a melodrama and all of his imbalanced traits found artistic expression and artistic balance in the serial melodramatic publications of his novels.
Some listeners (above) have trouble with Davidson's voice. My advice is get used to his idiosyncrasies: he's one of the best readers around. Somewhat fey around the edges with the female characters: but no reader is perfect -- not even Frank Muller! And a precious very few have the great range of emotional as well as intellectual expression as Davidson. His voice is certainly formal, in I think the British manner -- no method acting approach for FD -- and his fans like his voice just the way it is.
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