As a fan of Cold War history, I thought this a wonderful exploration of the pre-glamour years of the Space Race. The book explored the deep connection between the arms race and space race to a degree that's often overlooked. Like so many accounts, this book makes me wish I had been around for this unique time in history.
As has been mentioned, the interspersion of dramatic music is annoying, and I tend to wonder if the narrator correctly pronounces Sergei Korolev's name, but the book is nevertheless absolutely worth your time.
I think the Jack Ryan storyline has pretty well played out. I'm a huge fan of the earlier novels, up through Executive Orders, but making Jack Jr. the new hero feels a bit contrived. At this point, several things are working against the story. First off is the sheer improbability of so many 'incredible' circumstances happening to the same characters. Second, and more importantly for the narrative, is that the history of the 'Ryanverse' now differs so drastically from actual history, and yet Clancy has nevertheless tried to tie them together. The attempt leaves too many holes.
As an individual story, this one is entertaining, but still smells a bit of a rehash. Plus, the ultimate nefarious intent does not have the incredible (and believable) suspenseful lead-in that made The Sum of All Fears so outstanding.
As much as I love Clancy's novels, I think it's time to lay this storyline to rest.
Shirer really seems to have the inside scoop on Adolf Hitler's rise to power. The book is an excellent account of the remarkable set of circumstances that came together to make the Nazi party what it was. Note, this is not a play-by-play of the war, but focuses a bit more on the politics and important figures surrounding Germany during that time period.
As a fan of apocalyptic fiction, this was a credit well spent. The basis of the story has a refreshing root in actual science (it is Niven, after all), so it comes off as believable in that regard. Some of the characters never felt entirely fleshed out, however, and there are a couple of relatively jarring jumps in timeline.
The premise of any worldwide apocalypse story begs for a multitude of settings around the world. Writing them all would create a never ending story, but Lucifer's Hammer goes the other direction, detailing effectively nothing but one section of California. I'm sure some people appreciate this book for not being The Stand, but I miss seeing something of the world at large.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the listen, and it was fun to go back to some Cold War era fiction.
One of King's greatest works, 'Salem's Lot is a vampire story as the genre was truly intended: horrible, mysterious, and captivating. Stoker's influence is clearly evident (as King makes note of in the foreword), and I think he picked the best aspects to include. Don't be frightened (for lack of a better term) away by "modern" vampire stories; you'll find no fawning 13-year-olds here. The Lot is worth the listen.
I had previously read both the Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z in print, and was excited to listen to WWZ as read by a "realistic sounding" cast. The performances are, for the most part, quite well done, and of course the writing is excellent, but I feel this abridged version cannot do justice to the WWZ experience. Even despite the intervening years since I read it, I remembered quite a few sections that are not included here, and really think listeners miss out. Max, you included fan-made artwork in later printings of the book - please follow that cue and heed your fans' cries for unabridged readings!
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