This is the concluding volume in Winston Churchill's incomparable history of World War II. As in his previous three volumes it provides remarkable insight and an unparalleled "you are there" view of the events. It is an absolute must-read for anyone that has had the pleasure of completing the previous books.
However, it suffers in comparison to the other books. This first-person view of history worked incredibly well in the first three volumes because Churchill was, quite literally, in the middle of much of the significant action and decisions from 1938 to 1942. His insight, speeches, decisions, and influence on diplomacy literally made history and changed the course of the war. Having a front-row seat to that power and thought process is a treat.
However, starting in 1943 and certainly in 1944 the United States and the Soviet Union became the primary players on the Allied side and Great Britain (and thus Churchill), exhausted and smaller than the others, became a junior partner. Churchill had less and less influence in the conduct of the war and it is not surprising he was greatly frustrated by it, though he certainly knew that only through the combined efforts of the USA and USSR could complete victory be achieved.
In this volume he spends most of his time on things he had direct impact over (which were smaller scale) or talking about his frustrations about not being able to prosecute the war as he saw fit. For example, we hear much more about a small invasion of Italy he tried to coordinate than we do about D-Day. And we hear practically nothing about the treatment of Jews or concentration camps.
But Churchill really comes through in the end as he chronicles the Soviet transformation in 1944/5 from ally to adversary. And there is an epilogue where he discusses the transformations of the geopolitical situation from 1945 to 1957 that is remarkable in its anticipation of many of the issues we continue to face.
This is classic Stephen King and quite an enjoyable listen overall. I heard King interviewed once where he said something like he writes very much in the time of the story. Meaning there are lots and lots of "contemporary" cultural references from 1978 that are wonderful in and of themselves. Growing up as a teen in the '70's wasn't all that easy (being a former '70's teen myself) and King does a masterful job of describing the detail in just the right way. Some of the dialog seems slightly unnatural for teens, but since he wrote the book in 1983 he probably got it pretty right.
And of course, since this is set in the late 70's, our heroes have to try to solve the mystery/stop the evil without the use of the internet, cell phones, etc. The spend a a fair bit of time getting change for the phone booth and even have to do research in a public library - go figure! As a small example I really loved the descriptions of the typical middle-class food choices of our teen age heroes - Wonder Bread, Twinkies, and everything.
Yes, the story is fairly scary and I think King did as good a job as anyone possibly good with the story of a possessed car, but there is only so much that one can do with that one plot device (especially as it is revealed early on) and I thought the story bogged down halfway through since the eventual confrontation seemed inevitable one third of the way in. This isn't a short book and the plot could have been resolved in 12 hours vs 19.5 hours, but King's writing is so smooth it is quite OK.
But at the end of the day, I think it is reasonably easy to hide from a car, so it doesn't rise to the top-tier of King's books, but still worth a listen. Of course throughout the book I kept thinking of all the self-driving cars being tested right now from Google and all the others. My, how time flies!
David Mills has put together a wonderful book articulating the atheist position. It is mostly about challenging Intelligent Design, but there are several chapters arguing against typical Christian orthodoxy that are very well put together. In the introduction, Mills stresses how much time he spends making his writing clear, concise, and free of jargon and it shows. It is a very tightly organized and efficient book. He covers more in his book than ones twice as long. It also puts him in a solid position to criticize ID and Creation Science advocates for writing in very convoluted ways in order to sound more scientific.
The narrator was quite good, though there were a few mispronunciations that stood out, but didn't detract from the overall message.
Also, Mills spends a fair bit of time criticizing Christian Fundamentalists and frequently lumps them in with overall Christian believers. He lives in the southern US so I have no doubt a large percentage of Christians are fundamentalists. Out here in the more liberal West we don't see that many and the Christians are much more "reasonable", but the overall arguments are very sound regardless.
If you are interested in this kind of book, I definitely would add this to your reading list next to Dawkins and Harris.
I am a big fan of time travel books and mysteries so I was intrigued by the publisher's summaries and the reviews, but I couldn't take more than 90 minutes of it. This is clearly a Young Adult dystopian book, but that wasn't obvious in any of the descriptions. After dwelling for pages and pages how a geeky 15 year old boy had become a "hot" 17 year old genius I realized I had stumbled into the wrong section. I'm sure it a fine specimen in the genre, but not for me.
First off, I am a huge Bernard Cornwell fan. I have read/listened to all the Sharpe books, the Copperhead books, Winter King series, and many others. But for some reason 1356 seemed uninspired, especially compared with Agincourt, which I just re-listened to in anticipation of this book. Very similar eras, but character development, social history, and a compelling storyline all seemed better in Agincourt. And the narrator for 1356 didn't seem well suited to the role. His English accent was nice, but he sounded congested much of the time and I had a hard time distinguishing between the characters.
Bottom line - if you like the Grail Quest series and want to see how Thomas of Hookton has progressed, you should give it a listen. Looking for a great medieval historical novel? Check out Agincourt and give 1356 a pass.
This book is a series of short stories that take place in timelines around those featured in the novels. While not required, I think these stories are best enjoyed once you have finished all the main novels. There are some "spoilers" in the short stories when the characters refer to events that happened at the conclusions of the different novels.
Even though the book consists of stand-alone stories, there is some context-setting at the beginning of each that explains when/where each one takes place.
Each story is substantial enough to be enjoyed in its own right. It actually felt similar to a regular Joe Ledger novel since those tend to be a series of action-packed episodes back to back anyway.
To me, it was every bit as enjoyable as any of the other novels, which means it was a rocking 5-star listen.
And there is an awesome bonus story at the end. An interview between Jonathan Maberry (the author) and Ray Porter (the narrator). It offers really terrific insight into how Ray goes about preparing for and recording the novels. It is also clear that Jonathan is as big a Ray Porter fan as I am! Worth the price of a credit all by itself. Enjoy!
I have listened to dozens of "courses" from the Teaching Company over the years and this is one of the best. It was done a while ago but it still very worthwhile. What a treat to be able to listen to it via Audible. Professor Childers is an excellent lecturer and great storyteller who has an infectious enthusiasm for his subject. It is titled "a Military and Social History" but know if that it is about 80% military and 20% social. I wish there would have been more social or political context but I wouldn't have traded any of the military side - they should have just added additional lectures and I would have been quite happy.
Prof. Childers does a remarkable job telling the story of this literally global catastrophe that is very easy to follow. It is hard to imagine a traditional book brought to audio that could accomplish the same feat.
This was my first teaching company lecture series I ever listened to (over 10 years ago) and at that time I had only a cursory understanding of WWII. In the intervening years I have been an enthusiastic student of all things WWII and have read at least 15 books on various aspects of the conflict and visited numerous sites/monuments. So I can honestly say the lecture will be equally enjoyable whether you are new to the subject or you are familiar with it. Prepare for time well spent.
I am probably in the minority that hadn't seen the movie prior to listening to the audiobook. But I did like the audiobook so much I then sat down and watched the movie. It is remarkable how closely the movie adhered to the book - but as with all great books it is hard for any movie to compare with one's imagination properly inspired.
The book was very enjoyable and the performance was very well done. Women's voices weren't that great, but there are relatively few female characters in the story and it was certainly good enough.
The book also fills in so many (unavoidable) holes in the movie I can't imagine any Godfather movie fan not thoroughly enjoying revisiting their favorite mafia family again.
Absolutely. It was a remarkable story brought to life by an amazing narrator. It seemed at the same time unhurried but relentless. This must be listened to after "Winds of War" so together it is a 100+ hour commitment, but it was tremendous. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about WWII and I learned a great deal about the conflict through that most ancient of human skills: storytelling. I look forward to listening to it again.
The way the narrative shifted between the different viewpoints - from a "God's Eye" view of the progress of the war to the more myopic German perspective to the personal American and Jewish experience. In hindsight it really is the only way to tell such a grand and terrible story.
His command of accents and cadence is amazing. He was always clear and easy to understand but it really put you in the thick of the action.
Listen to this book. It is well worth your time. In this age where we are losing 1000's of WWII vets every day this is perhaps one of the best ways to connect to that time.
The Passage was a great read and to me they felt like some of Stephen King's longer works. There is certainly a horror-ish element to it and some fairly intense action sequences, but at the same time it feels unhurried and Scott Brick's terrific narration adds to that feeling. There is a pretty diverse and wide cast of characters but most of them add nicely to the story's mosaic - sometimes in surprising ways.
Do note that there are jumps in both timeline and perspective of the storyteller (including a couple of alternate narrators) but it works out well, adds to the story, and is not hard to follow.
Overall I found the story every exciting and unpredictable and I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a great read. Yep, there may be "vampire-ish" elements to it, but they are much more Stephen King than Stephanie Meyer.
This is actually my second time through the book (in preparation to enjoy the sequel, The Twelve). I loved it the first time but I think the second time may have been better as you can see how seemingly innocuous events early in the story really play out. Enjoy!
I thoroughly loved this book. I don't normally seek out these "true-life adventures" but the other reviews were so positive that I decided to give it a try. It was absolutely tremendous. It was so unbelievable that no one would even think of putting half of the things that happened into a novel. I literally spent every night during the time period I was listening to this book reflecting about the trials and tribulations of the men of the Endurance and wondering how I would do in similar circumstances. It was a profoundly emotional experience with this book.
The writing is quite good and the narrator keeps the story moving along while keeping the "you are there" sense of the book.
I highly recommend this book.
Report Inappropriate Content