As someone not familiar with Grant or the Civil War, beyond high school history education, I found this book to be a nice introduction to the further study of both subjects, but not groundbreaking. The author does a very good job describing Grant's early life, as well as the period setting. I found the setting description to be very enlightening and colorful; it added a lot of life to the book. The presentation was also quite good, with only a single caveat - the reader did not differentiate between sentences, paragraphs or chapters, always pausing for the same amount. This made the reading a little monotonous. The largest flaw with the book, however, is the author's strong bias in favor of Grant. Grant is a likeable character in general, but the author went a little over the top passing his own moral judgments over people who hindered Grant in his private and professional lives. In addition, I felt that the author tried to excuse Grant's drinking. A smaller complaint on my part is the fact that the author focuses so tightly on Grant that he fails to paint a bigger picture of the Civil War setting. A few times I lost track of the overall military situation, and did not fully understand Grant's motives and actions that were dictated bu that situation. Still, this is a decent book, which I believe will benefit people with more prior knowledge of the subject matter than me.
Pushing Ice is a wonderful book in many aspects. For someone who likes the science part in science fiction, I was fully taken by the technology and science behind the story. I found the travel at relativistic speeds, time dilation and gravitational forces especially appealing, well explained and integrated into the story. On the other hand, I was seriously disappointed by the characters. Nearly all were highly unlikeable. Not so much because of their character traits, but because they were all extremist in their own ways. So extremist that they were ready to kill for reasons that looked, or at least were described as, minor. I did not find any motives behind the character actions; they seemed as set pieces in a machinery. This made the book much less believable to me.
From the audio perspective, I found the presentation relatively good. The reader was consistent in accents, even though sometimes he interchanged voices, especially for male characters. The only gripe I'd have here is a minor one: people's voices sound overly dramatic, as if starring in a soap opera.
All in all, though, a well worth standalone work for fans of harder science fiction.
When I got the book, I expected a manifesto in favor of free stuff on the Internet. I was very pleasantly surprised that it wasn't so. The author did a very good job describing the free economy as a viable alternative to traditional business models. The description of various forms of free, with plenty of examples and side stories makes the book highly useful for anyone contemplating an on-line business. The presentation was also superb. The author read his own book, and despite sounding quite excited about it (in my opinion, that further improved the book), he was very clear in his reading.
The book has a few downsides, though. Most importantly, the author sometimes confuses causation with correlation. This seriously weakens some of his arguments. The other problem was the existence of "sidebars" - related stories, but completely isolated from the main text. While they work well in books, in an audiobook they break the text continuity and make the listening a little more difficult.
Still, overall this is one high-quality book, which anyone in an interest in on-line business should read/listen to.
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