Darwin covers the bases, but there's not much new insight here. I found myself wanting more.
It's hard to call yourself an historian and not to have read Herodotus, the Father of History. Every time I'd pick up the written version, I found the beginning so slow (and so steeped in fable as to be of questionable historical value) that I would set it aside as a chore to be tackled when I really needed to do penance. Listening to the audio version has strengths and weaknesses of its own. One gets through the fables and the travel book accounts of the first book more easily, though I found times where my attention lapsed. There are so many odd names of persons and places, that it's difficult to keep them straight without seeing their spelling or location on a map. This might be one of those books that are best listened too and read simultaneously. Keep an ancient atlas with you as well. The story picks up with the recounting of Persia's invasion of Greece and the resistance made by Sparta and Athens. It's then one realizes just how much of our understanding of the Persian Wars trace back to Herodotus. Many later texts on the period draw on him almost exclusively. Parts of the work are worth many re-reads, but as I say, keep some maps at hand. As for Bernard Mayes's narration, yes he comes off as a Greek oral traditionalists, but his dry voice make dry sections seem particularly desiccated.
I read this classic twice thinking I'd missed something. In the end I just had trouble paying attention enough to keep track of the story. Given how terrorism is now a daily occurrence, one would think a book about anarchists would be topical. Dostoevsky is examining philosophical debates surrounding nihilism that was a pressing topic in Russian intellectual circles of his day. For me, however, (and I'm guessing for you as well), this book is too dated to engage modern readers. This is the first book Guidall has narrated that I have not liked. Guidall selects his projects well and having his name on the cover is usually a book's best reference. Suffer from insomnia? Buy this book and let George's melodious voice rock you to sleep knowing there's not much of a plot you'll be missing.
Before there were latex sex dolls there were female Golems. Fine, I'm stretching things, but what would happen if you found that you'd fallen in love with an animate piece of clay? Wecker not only brings to life her Golom, but immigrant society in 19th C. America; sort of a historical fantasy. An interesting story with a feminine perspective on love and loyalty. Guidall is one of the few male narrators who do women and dialects very well.
Generally I think it is a terrible mistake to let writers narrate their own books. Not so here. While I've gotten used to listening to Carre' through the voice of the late David Case (aka Fredrick Davidson) Carre's disenchantment with the powers of the Western World suits the cynical outlook of his characters. Carre' is as good a vocal actor as he is a writer of the cerebral thriller. Unlike the Smiley series, The Tailor of Panama is almost a comedy.
Rogue elements in the Politburo seek to destabilize Great Britain and let the Americans take the blame. Forsyth is in top form here making the far-fetched come off as perfectly plausible. A great read.
The French Revolution is a great backdrop for a novel, just ask Mr Dickens. Mantel should be commended for attempting to be true to history in her copious use of letters and documents of key figures in order to give them an authentic voice when it comes to dialogue. The problem is that most of this book is just dialogue and precious little explanation as to what the hell is going on. I'm a professional historian myself and yet I had difficulty wading through the didactic exchanges of these revolutionaries in order to piece out where we were in the evolution of the Revolution. Even more problematic, in Mantel's effort to rely on writings of these figures in order to put words in their mouths, she forgot that a novel needs a plot. The only satisfaction the reader gets out of this long and dreary piece is seeing everyone get it in the neck. --- Oh, don't accuse me of being a spoiler, you know what happened to these guys, right?
This is right in line with the back-to-life Nazi conspiracy stories we've seen in Indiana Jones or the Boys from Brazil. Interesting spin on the mystery surrounding Hess' flight to England and Nazi sleeper cells in West Germany and South Africa. Enjoyed the first 2/3, but the final shoot out scene involving so many strange alliances slipped into farce.
This story jumps back and forth in time and is told from numerous character perspectives. That doesn't bother me when it is done with purpose. Opacity in a novel is fine, but this story goes off in so many tangents that the thread gets lost and worst, we stop caring about the characters. There are some engaging aspects here, code braking and encryption throughout history. Stephenson has an annoying habit of introducing characters and situations in order to be funny and the effect is forced and obnoxious. The book needs to be edited to half its length.
One expects WWI air combat to be much more exciting than is presented here. This is not a novel or a history but a daily journal of a bombardier. Not much happens here. Green Balls refers to German anti-aircraft fire which little threatens the author. The greatest peril results more from mechanical troubles than the enemy. The narrator's Cockney voice is also ill suited to what one expects of British officer. Very disappointed.
Wonderful, but wordy and sometimes slow. I first saw the TV series staring Benedict Comberbatch in all his brilliance. The series happens to be one of those rare instances where the screen adaptation faithfully follows the book capturing the important parts and sparing us much of the repetitious mental ruminations of 'Ford's characters. This doesn't take away from the merits of Ford's investigation into Edwardian society or the study of a virtuous man tormented by having to live in a world unworthy of him. Tiejans is an ultra-conservative, but one with a heart embodying all that is good in the Tory philosophy; honesty, fairness, obligation to care for those in his service. He's a rather good example for how the American Republican party might reinvent itself and still remain true to its core values. Seeing the Series gave me images of the characters and places that made the story even more vivid. The series also largely overlooks the last volume which is the weakest of the four books and more of an after thought involving the protagonist's brother. Crossley's narration is spot on doing justice to both male and female characters.
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