Shadow Country is a superb book. From what I understand, it is a compilation of a trilogy surrounding the life and death of Edgar J Watson, a real-life legendary character of the American south around the late 1800's to his death in 1910. As in a trilogy, this book is comprised of three distinct parts, beginning at the end with Watson's death at the hands of a vigilante mob. The rest of the book is back story; with the first part describing Watson as told by the various people who knew him (many of these people participated in his murder/execution). The second part is told after the fact by Watson's beloved younger son, Lucius, who devotes his life in vain to uncovering the real truth about the life and death of his father. Was he the loving father Lucius knew or the reputed murderous monster?
Parts one and two, painting a vivid picture of the man and history of the region, raise as many questions as it provides answers until finally, part three, where autobiographically told by Edgar Watson himself everything is revealed. Part three, could easily stand alone as a complete novel.
This book is wonderfully written and masterfully read. It has everything; rich descriptions of the landscapes, people, and history, and plausible dialog complete with the dialects of the antebellum and postwar south. It pulls no punches when it comes to slavery and racism, so if you are not willing to hear the "N" word contextually used, be duly warned.
Peter Matthiessen brings the places and time to life. His description of the landscape after a hurricane is perfect. Perhaps living in South Florida made the story more real for me. For example, I have been to Arcadia many times. To this day it is not hard to imagine it as the old-west saloon-filled cattle town of a century past. Certainly there is a lot of history of the Everglades and man's attempts to rape this last frontier.
I found this an enjoyable listen. It was not too obtuse, although there were times I would have preferred to see some of the problems on the written page and I found myself rewinding the audio to listen to certain paragraphs several times.
Yes, it is about probability theory, the history thereof and some current applications, but there is more. The author attempts to humanize the effects of randomness, statistics, accidents of fate by using examples from life, like the OJ trial, Roger Maris' record, Bill Gate's success, etc.
Easy to listen to, not too heavy. You don't have to be a statistics or calculus expert to appreciate this book.
I know that since its publication there has been a good deal of controversy surrounding this book. Alex Haley was accused of plagarism regarding a few paragraphs from a book titled THE AFRICAN. He was reported to have paid a settlement as a result. Also, many question the historical veracity of some of the characters and details in the story, of which Haley makes no apology, employing necessary poetic license to bring this story to life. And he succeeded marvelously in his effort.
Roots is a tremendous novel, beautifully written and entirely engaging througout. The reader, Avery Brooks does a masterful job, actually enhancing the listening experience. I was amazed at how he effortlessly switched between the accents of the Africans, slaves and southern whites.
Without hesitation, I recommend this audiobook.
It has been over a year since I have listened to this book, and I won't comment on the timeless classic wit of Mark Twain, as so many others have already done.
However, I want to tell you that the READER of this book is absolutely brilliant! Without question he is the best I have heard, and I have listened to hundreds.
One of Twain's trademarks is his use of regional dialect in his writing. If you have ever read Twain's written word, you will know that it isn't always the easiest to correctly interperet. Patrick Fraley absolutely NAILS it!
Even if you have read this book many times, the performance of this story alone is worth the price of admission.
Great narrator, but so-so story. Elizabeth Sastre does a marvelous job of reading and switching accents. In particular when narrating the letters of the sister (with limited English skills) in Bangladesh, the accent was performed to perfection.
Other than that, I found the story to be no more exciting than a soap opera, relating the day to day challenges of immigrants in England.
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