Colorado Springs, Colorado United States | Member Since 2013
You’ve read the publisher’s synopsis so you know that this is a man stranded on mars story. At first it feels like the movie Silent Running, slow and lonely. Then for a time it is Robinson Crusoe on Mars, but with better science. It then transitions into an Apollo 13 type of thing with tense moments and ingenious MacGyver type jury-rigging to get things done. But then it gets interesting, transforming into a story that is as fun and motivational as The Right Stuff with the Alan Shepard’s attitude of “fix your little problem and light this candle.” As you can see it helps to be a space geek to like this novel but it is just flat out a good story, with realistic characters and tense situations. More suspense than Science Fiction. Recommend this to your movie-going friends to get them hooked on audiobooks.
During the first part of the book, I thought that R.C. Bray was going to be a reader and not a performer, but once the earth characters made their entrance he proved to be an excellent performer. He handles both male and female characters with ease, every voice seeming appropriate. R.C. Bray is a big reason why this is a great audiobook.
Told as a series of long recollections of the exploits of two unconventional, and therefore unexpected and well-suited, black ops agents; this book is like a classic WWII movie. The story is exciting and feels so right that you will want it to be true. As a lover of history I found this to be a rousing adventure and so well produced that its scenes were playing in my mind’s eye like a matinee news reel all the while I was going about my daily routine. This is what I am always seeking in an audiobook.
Dick Hill has a great voice for WWII stories. I had recently listened to his rendition of BROTHERS IN BATTLE, BEST OF FRIENDS and was impressed at his ability to deliver distinct voices for two very similar personalities in that book. In BLACK CROSS he really gets to stretch his vocal cords; giving voice to a variety of characters, both male and female, and from a broad spectrum of dialects.
Thanks to all my fellow Audible book reviewers who took the time to recommend this book. Your altruistic efforts caused me to listen to this book and my life is more full and more enjoyable because of it.
I tackled this book as preparation for Wouk’s lengthy THE WINDS OF WAR and the even longer WAR AND REMEMBRANCE, of which I am hoping great things, having been enthralled by the television mini-series of the same name. I was amazed at the well-rounded and fully fleshed out characters. None of them are larger than life hero types, but are realistic: self-doubting at times, overconfident at others. These characters make for engaging reading. The book follows the life journey of just a few central characters and is so authentic that I began to care about them. So, when things begin to turn sour the listener is so invested that empathy is assured. Every event the characters go through becomes a crisis. Every injustice, a tragedy. This is a truly grand story filled by real people.
The book is narrated by Kevin Pariseau who is truly marvel. He handles salty sea dogs and lounge singers with equal mastery. His performance is dramatic without being intrusive, always appropriate, enhancing this already excellent book.
This book has a dream-like quality to it—but I am not saying that as an endorsement. Just as a dream is a Technicolor mélange of disjointed episodes that one struggles to fit together upon waking; this novel is elusive and seems to always be just out of reach. I admire the prose style of Pynchon in the same way that I enjoy the words of William Gibson in NECROMANCER. It has an edgy, detached quality to it; one that does not encourage emotional attachment. This book, however has less going on to hold my interest than does the aforementioned cyber-punk classic. No cool characters, no sense-of-wonder to make me marvel at the inventiveness of the fictional invention. What tipped the book against me, I think, was the excessive and emotionally uninvolved over-utilization of explicit sex scenes throughout. These scenes are spaced regularly in the novel, as if they are supposed to fit into some larger story arc. I could not find the interconnection so they just came off as crude assaults on my thought process with no redeeming social value. George Guidall has a fine pleasant voice and allowed me to hand in with this book for six hours before punching out.
There is a strange appeal to stories like this; stories that expose the dark underbelly of society. It is somehow fascinating to peek into the violent world of organized crime. I listened to this book after I had already watched the first two movies, so my opinion was already partially formed. The first “book” of the novel was nearly identical to the first movie and, even without Brando, Pachino, Duval and Caan, this is an enthralling story. After this initial sequence the novel expands greatly upon the back-story and we get to know, if not to love, Vito Corleone and the other Siclian Underworld figures.
This novel reminds me of the Parker novels of Donald Westlake—at least in one sense. The character Parker, a career thief, and Don Corleone both share a sense of honor among thieves. For both, occasional violence is strictly business; a necessary part of the job. It is simply the way things get done. Violence is to be avoided until it is necessary, but then it is to be persued with alacrity and vigor. Strange as it may be for me to say—you may think—in a way this is a humorous story. Perversely, the murder and mayhem become a sort of expected punch-line to every anecdote; the rim shot that punctuates every plot episode. These men feign to be cultured and respectful to each other; family men, business men—men of deep principle, pillars of the community. Yet they are the worst kind of blight on society. Evil masquerading as good.
Joe Mantegna has a great Italian accent that adds to the verisimilitude of this story of the Mafia. His character voicing is well-suited for each of the people is the story. Without his voice this would still be a fine story. Joe Mantegna makes it truly great.
Try to consider this novel on the merits of its drama and story alone and try to ignore, for a moment, the dubious claims by Alex Haley that it relates the actual history of his supposed ancestor Kunta Kinte. This is a fine story and has as much relevance to the human condition and the desire to be free as any Military Sci-Fi Space Opera fighting the tyranny of alien overlords or any Zombie Apocalypse novel resisting extinction against impossible odds. The mini-series enthralled me in 1977, and this audiobook captivated me thirty-eight years later.
If you are not aware of the controversy surrounding this Pulitzer Prize winning novel consider just these two facts: (1) Alex Haley paid $650,000 after a court judgment against him to Harry Courlander for lifting eighty-one passages from the novel The African in 1978. (2) The slave Toby, the supposed Kunta Kinte in Haley’s genealogy, has a paper-trail in America going back four years before the slave ship the Lord Ligonier arrived on American shores.. While these problems of provenance do lessen the impact of this novel from a historical perspective—and should dampen any social impact of this false narrative— the novel, as a work of pure fiction, still stands on its own. The author’s afterward, detailing Haley’s journey of discovery of his family’s African history, should be treated as a short story; a coda added to give the work a sense of verisimilitude.
No one questions the horrors of the period of history involving the slave trade between Africa and North America. It is easy to imagine that accounts very similar to those in this book actually did take place. And that is why this book can still have some impact. The actual story may be false as a history but the story reflects a reality that transcends the veracity of the account. I only wish that Alex Haley had chosen to tell this story as a piece of fiction, avoiding plagiarism along the way. It is a shame that such a powerful book must be tainted with scandal.
Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko on Star Trek Deep Space Nine) narrates this book with just the right tone of voice. The early chapters are told strictly from an omniscient 3rd person narration perspective, and here Avery Brooks does not get much of a chance to display his talents. But once Kunta Kinte gets established in the Plantation system of the Virginia colony, several other characters are introduced and Mr. Brooks begins to shine. He handles the accents of both slaves and the Plantation owners adroitly. He adds greatly to the audiobook experience.
This is Steinbeck’s masterpiece. Here is exposed the evil that is in men’s hearts. John Steinbeck depicts some people as monsters. Not the creepy paranormal monsters of Stephen King but a much more horrifying type of monster; the kind that lives in the head of everyone. The people in this book are complex and realistic, all the more so because their proclivities toward evil are uncomfortably familiar to anyone of Adam’s race. I recommend this as a lofty example of American novel writing, and an engrossing excursion into the true nature of man. Richard Poe narrates in a voice that just seems perfectly apt for that of a young Steinbeck. This is everything I look for in an audiobook: captivating entertainment with a hook that forces your mind to ponder.
Listening to this was like reliving the TV miniseries from years ago. Every chapter brought to mind a scene from the video production and I realized that the movie was very faithful to the book. There are very strong influences of the television production evident in this audiobook. Lee Horsley is wonderful as the narrator, and his voicing of the character Gus is a perfect impression of Tommy Lee Jones. There is so much beauty of characterization in this book that one must wonder what cruel intention was in McMurtry’s mind when he penned such fixation on death that pervades every story arc in this novel.
I recently concluded listening to several books on various elements of world history and this was the best. At first I thought this was too dry for my taste and the narration by Michael Prichard brought to mind the voice-overs of old Cinema news-reels. But after paying attention for several hours I began to track with the writer and discovered that Kaplan is in touch with current academic thought and is able to distill information from a wide variety of sources and relate it in a fashion that is understandable for the layman. Despite the title, this is not an unmitigated defense of geographical determinism. This books does, however, put forth many examples from history of people groups who—for a time—defy the restrictions of topography, in ambitious exploits of martial glory, only to succumb to the inevitable forces of the lands in which they live. For me, this book was a glimpse into the realm of the political experts that advise the movers and shakers of the world. It is useful for those trying to make sense of the ebb and flow of ancient civilizations—and attempt to predict what may transpire in our own time.
This book is less a history lesson than it is a worshipful panegyric extolling the virtues of materialistic atheism. I found it to be well written and wonderfully narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. What I did not find it to be was correct. Greenblatt’s premise is that the lost poem of Lucretius, “On the Nature of Things” was instrumental in shaping the modern way of thinking. And what was this great rediscovered revelation so nearly lost to history? “The denial of divine providence and the denial of the afterlife were the twin pillars of Lucretuis’ whole poem” (8:29). I hardly think that atheism was in danger of being forgotten. Greenblatt succumbs to the common error of many who spend their lives in the hollowed halls of higher learning: he fails to consider that the normal state of man is a life lived in rebellion against God. For Greenblatt the recovery of this lost poem of Lucretius was not just a boon to literature but to epistemology as well; for through it we remain connected to our classical atomistic roots. He attributes Lucretius the virtue of restoring our atomistic understanding of the ontological nature of the universe. This was summed up in the words of the modern popularizer of atheistic thought, Carl Sagan, who famously, and nearly reverentially, put mankind in his place with the words, “We are star stuff.” No humanistic, materialistic atheism was never in danger of extinction. That said, this book is an entertaining excursion exploring humanistic thought and Greenblatt makes his case as well as he can considering his presuppositional basis of Godlessness.
Any attempt to understand the modern world must explain the shape of the Middle East. This is a serious attempt to dismantle the Middle East turmoil from the perspective of World War One and the enigmatic figure of T. E. Lawrence. After listening, I can say that I think I grasp the shape of the political forces of the Middle East a lot better but that I fail to know the strangely paradoxical figure of Lawrence. Far from the romantic Peter O’Toole version of Lawrence of Arabia, Scott Anderson paints a portrait of the man that is more realistic and contradictory.
Malcolm Hillgartner submits a journeyman’s effort here. Nothing spectacular, but clear and unobtrusive.
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