This is an outstanding book read by an outstanding reader. Alan Furst is almost certainly the best espionage fiction writer in the post-cold war era. Though his closest comparison would be the John le Carre of the 1970s, don't look for tightly knit, organized plots. Furst writes episodically. But also beautifully.
This book is outstanding. It's an evenly balanced, keenly insightful ethnography of border patrol. It's an outstanding example of sociological ethnography. Unfortunately, the reader is intent on undermining everything of value the book has to offer. The whole point of the book is to ask us to unthink our preconceived notions of what and who the Minutemen are. The point is to challenge our stereotypes. The narrator, on the other hand, seeks to reinforce these stereotypes. Every Minuteman who speaks is given a Gomer Pyle Southern Accent that is targeted to make them sounds stupid no matter what they are saying. Members of opposing border groups that seek to give shelter to those crossing the border are given winy liberal accents, despite the fact that they are from Arizona. If this book is about making us think, the narrator seems to want to us to be unthinking morons. An unfortunate and deep disservice to this book.
This is an outstanding collection and it's an absolutely luxury to be able to listen to this on audiobook. My only complaint is that it's read by someone who seems to speak no languages (or have no exposure to languages) other than English. This leeds to a hackneyed butchering of the names of many of the key thinkers covered in this text. Derrida, for example, becomes "Dereeda," making him sound like a commercial snack food. We are also treated to "Mike" Foucault. This is a minor complaint, but it happens so regularly throughout the text that it is quite jarring. It seems to me, that if you're going to narrate a 50 hour long book, it wouldn't be a terrible thing to confirm simple things like how to pronounce its subjects. Otherwise, this is fabulous.
Okay, I enjoy Clancy despite the fact that my politics are significantly different from his, but this book is over the top. I have never downloaded a book from Audible full of so much racist claptrap. The above (Ryan's remark on finding out that lots of toys are made in China) is about as mild as it gets in this book. Where the casual racism gets really offensive is the point where Ryan visits Auschwitz and Clancy uses the detour to reflect on America's role to protect the world against racist regimes that might do the same. Given the content of the book, that borders on the unforgivably offensive. Clancy's editor must have been asleep at the wheel. Give this one a pass.
This is an absolutely great listen. I have learned a tremendous amount from this book. It is worth noting that this is a classic, liberal account which seems to work from the assumption that the great tragedy of the war is that the liberal and progressive idea of Algerie Francais was never realized. It is a bit dated in language at times. But overall, it's a riveting account.
I really enjoyed Beat the Reaper, and this was as good or better. Bazell writes at the edge of the absurd, is fast paced, and laugh-out-loud funny. My only complaint about this book is that I found it pretty hard to get anything else done until I finished it...
This one squeaked through the cracks of attempts to find the next Steig Larsson. It's written (or translated) in a fairly disjointed style. It's plot and climax are overburdened with coincidence. The author seems to acknowledge this by throwing in lines like "it seemed an unbelievable chain of coincidences." That really doesn't make up for the poorly constructed plot. I'd give this one a pass.
I'm not sure there's much to recommend this, unfortunately. The story is pretty minimal at best and the character development certainly doesn't make up for the lack of plot. Joe Pantoliano's voice is interspersed with Joe Barrett's narration. This is not only jarring, but Pantoliano overacts each of the characters to the point where this sounds like a 17 hour long ethnic joke. Your credits and money are better spent elsewhere.
It's nice to see that now Audible has listed Joe Hurley as a second reader of this book. They didn't when I purchased the book. Be warned. The book is great. Depp is great. He disappears about four hours in and is replaced by Joe Hurley, who is absolutely abysmal. Terrible cockney accent that slips at strange places. Terrible renditions of American Southern accents. Hurley succeeds in making Richards sound like an absolute idiot. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through the book and desperately hoping that Depp comes back soon. I've had pretty close to as much Hurley as I can stomach.
i am a huge fan of Smith's Renko novels. Gorkey Park is one of my favorite thrillers of all time. This was a disappointment though. it really felt like the book was being phoned in. weak on character development, weak on plot, low on surprises. Renko isn't even as cynical as we have come to expect. i'm still looking forward to the next one thought....
but entertaining. It's worth the listen, but don't expect greatness. The book drags in places, but one gets the sense that the next installment will be really fun.
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