This book is must reading in my opinion because its account of the almost automatic abuses that seem happen when it's too easy to get money...as in Iceland and Ireland and Greece. In Iceland, fishermen became bankers and ruined the country is record time. In Ireland, easy drove up real estate prices so high that they bore no relationship to true value as measured by rentals. In Greece, its seems everyone from top to bottom was spending money they didn't have. The unaffordable pensions, the universal tax evasion, the false budgets and false statements of tax collections in Greece are unbelievable. In the US, he explores the finanicial condition of municipalities. In Ireland, the Irish government pays off bonds issued by privates banks to private individuals and viritually bankrupts itself. In California, he visits bandrupt towns where the police and fire fighters salaries and pensions that are imposed by a ridiculous system are impossible to pay. What is amazing is how easy the author makes it look to gather this incredible incredible information. He goes almost as a tourist and conducts some interviews. But I dont't think he could not have done this without a lot of preparation.
A 13 year old survives a terrorist museum bombing,stuffs a priceless painting in his backpack and carries it around for years. He had no intention of profiting from it or hanging it in his bedroom yet does not return it . Not logical. And there are a number of preposterous turns in this novel. Yet I bought into his world and enjoyed the saga very much. The reader actually deserves five stars for his overall accomplishment.. many characters, many accents...done full out as an actor and not just as a reader. I gave him four stars because some of his female voices I found quite irritating. Not really fair of me.
I got this book because of its reader rating. Although I got hooked early, I found it kind of formulaic. Strikingly beautiful Russian spy who excels in everything... American spies who are so top drawer... like the James Clancy military men.. So different from the flawed or troubled LeCarre spies. Lots of fun but not up to its rating in my opinion.
If you are into all of the details of naval and land battles during the War of 1812, this is your book. Every sailing maneuver during battles between the heroic (but crazy) frigates along with compositions of crews, number killed and wounded, damage reports, sails and riggings carried away... all preparations taken for land battles, compositions of armies (regulars, militiamen, Indians, liberated slaves), fortifications, armaments, tactics, blunders, killed and wounded, intentional torching of towns and cities... Honestly, this really is of interest to me. In addition, there is a very detailed account of the disputes between England and the US, of the political maneuvering between the Federalists and the Republicans, of the attitudes in England exhibited by the Parliament, the ministers and the press... The War of 1812 ended in a kind a stalemate... the status quo from the beginning of the war was put back in place... but it had great significance for relations between the US and England... We got respect and England became our friend.for centuries . For Madison it was a titanic struggle.. many blunders, many bad appointments but to his credit he stuck it out and changed our government for the better...
At first I thought I could not get through the awful stereotypes from 1950s fiction.. the men's men (who had served or were serving in the military with distinction), the pompous small town aristocrat throwing his weight around who turns out to be a coward, the noble black man (in a Florida town) with a minstrel's name and minstrel's speech who reads the Washington Post and NY Times thrown out by the white guys.. and worst of all the women who are to varying degrees kind of ditzy ... But this post-nuclear attack survival story was lots of fun to listen to and Will Patton was the perfect narrator... Do not know how realistic the post-bomb scenario was but it gave me plenty to think about...
The narrator really got into my head. She delves into each character in every Irish accent I never knew existed. Many twist and turns but the character development of the heroine and other players is what makes this book for me. One bothersome thing about Dublin Murder Squad books is that the men all seem damaged from childhood.
Good yarn. Loved the accounts of WWII historical events in the Soviet Union, the USA, England and Germany, all of which I assume have been rigorously researched. For me the book was worth 35 hours of listening for that alone. I do feel some of these characters are retreads from Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.. kind of two dimensional. Also that the characters are repeatedly coincidentally running into one another and being placed at every major historical event is kind of ridiculous but, I suppose, necessary to provide first person reports. If you do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of the events leading up to and during WWII and you would like a better knowledge of them and like a good yarn, this is the book for you. Also, it was fun to follow the characters from the Fall of Giants.
This is another book where a spunky girl/young woman who lost everything uses her grit and talent (in this case rug maker/designer) to survive. But it is so well written, so full of historic Persian detail (which I am sure is accurate but that didn't matter... the author brought me into that world), that I became hooked early on. Really well written and an excellent narration.
I think it is a five star novel overall and a five star story but maybe it is not and it is the narration that has clouded my critical faculties. The narrator, Anna Fields, is just the right combination of matter of fact delivery, excellent and not over-the-top accents (Spanish, French and Russian) and excellent portrayal of the characters without acting up a storm. This is how I like to hear a book.
This is good yarn and I do not regret spending 40 hours listening to it. But it is wrong to put Littell in the same company as Le Carre. The main characters of this book are Clancy-like men's men, belonging to a mutual admiration society. They are top drawer in their craft, totally fearless, devoted to their top drawer wives. They are always ready with a come-back that silences their adversaries. For men's
men, they are quite an emotional bunch and Littell wrings out every emotion he can. They are also an amorous group but the sex scenes are contrived and embarrassing to listen to. A key Israeli intelligence operative and one his agents are so infallible, so successful and so dripping with wisdom, they make our boys look like amateurs. And the narrator, although a very talented guy, is over the top in the emotional scenes. Also, his English accent is pretty bad. So, again, great yarn, fun to listen to but not great art.
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