I wasn't able to get into this and couldn't finish it. It seemed to go on and on, with the occasional interesting tidbit. The narrator was a bit flat in his tone, but I think it was more the writing. It was focussed on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in general, rather than world-wide secret intel, plus I suspect the author had an agenda in writing the book. There were a lot of comparisons to Johnson and the Vietnam War as well as to the Soviet Union's failures in Afghanistan. That wasn't what I was expecting at all. I should have paid more attention to a negative review on the Amazon website. Best of luck to other readers and perhaps your experience will be different!
These people will live on for me and if I can't continue with them, I'll have to try again with the author's other series. I tried at least one and couldn't connect with it. Alexander McCall Smith seems to live in a certain place, where the people are very real to you, yet one accepts that the actual events are a little fanciful. You suspend reality just a little and you're with him all the way. If you actually start worrying about what is happening when there is a problem, taking it for real, you miss all the fun. I suspect if I approach his other series with that attitude, I may like them better. So, I loved this series. The only problem was laughing out loud at unexpected times!
Another reviewer summed it up best, I think: "too much and too little". Too much of things that I didn't find compelling and not enough of what I do find compelling. I didn't finish it, stopping around Chapter 3 in the 1870's. A family member sent me the family tree from the book, which was helpful, but I just wasn't finding the people or the time periods came to life enough to make it something I cared about. The narrator seemed great and had superior French pronunciation!
Obviously, this type of book isn't for everyone, because, even if you're generally interested, it can weigh you down a bit. I devoured it in a short time, but even then, took a few breaks just to lighten my mood. That being said, it isn't horrible in terms of violence or extreme scenes, and overall is uplifting. I really would hope it would get more coverage, because the story and the treatment of it both wonderful. The writer (or writers, more precisely) kept just the right emotional tone, where what has to be dealt with, whatever it is in the story, is being dealt with, just as you would experience it firsthand, if it were you. One forgets that at every stage in the increasing horrors that happened under the Nazis, those experiencing them only dealt with what was in front of their eyes at that moment, with no context that we have now in hindsight. More than most books of this genre, this seems to allow you to feel the moment to moment reality yourself in a way that is very engaging and satisfying. That was part of the message of the book, really, that each relationship we have, each person in themselves, is valuable, which is the essential horror of the holocaust that for that time and for those people, they rejected that concept in such a profound way.
I'm not a big science fiction reader and this one got onto my list through some sale or other. That being said, I loved it at first, but it seemed to fade more near the end. The conclusion was adequate, but something was missing at times. There was very good character development, but things didn't always click together.
I'm definitely hooked on this series now, even though very occasionally it drags. The charm, the wisdom and the humour more than makes up for it. The narrator, Robert Ian Mackenzie couldn't be better.
This is the fourth in the series and I think it was my favourite. I certainly enjoyed it more than number 3, Love Over Scotland, which seemed to drag a bit for me. I prefer if things are a tad farfetched, because I don't actually want to feel sad about Bertie's life or how awful it is if a dog is suffering somewhere and this one seemed to keep reality at just a slight distance. When that is the case, the comedy underneath can really shine. I'm all set to dive into the next one. The narrator was startlingly good, conveying each character, including the dog, perfectly and squeezing every bit of nuance out of the text.
If you're interested in this topic in a general way, you can't go wrong with this book. It was very readable, with great characterizations of the principals involved, plus lots of subtle humour. If it ever dragged slightly, it was never for long. By necessity, it had to jump from one country to another to cover them all and their interactions, but the descriptions of each were so vivid, I didn't find it hard to keep track. The fall of the Berlin Wall wasn't as emotional to me in its portrayal as it had been in another book, but that's fine too. The other book, one of fiction, works well as a companion piece to this one. The fiction one that I read first was Ken Follett's final book in the Century Trilogy, called the "Edge of Eternity". They each have their place, but really I'd say this one, 1989, is a stronger book, with no bias to speak of and entertaining enough to hold one's interest. Ken Follett's book covers a broader topic than eastern Europe, of course, with a major focus on the civil rights struggle. They are both great for casual history buffs who aren't really willing to slog through anything too dry in their free time!
I did enjoy this, despite some evidence of bias, as others have said. When I expected the bias ahead of time from the reviews, it didn't bother me as much. For me, I prefer less explicit sex too, but I made it through those fairly brief scenes and I suppose it represents the times! The ending was startling and sad, at Obama's first election, (no spoiler there) in light of what has gone on in recent months related to Ferguson and more. The force impeding progress for blacks is no longer white racists, but race baiters and they can even be in high office (IMHO)! But, all in all, the book was great and it has inspired me to read a non-fiction book on a related theme, which is Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire by Victor Sebastyen, also available here in Audible. I'm half way through and it's fantastic. The two fit very well together and the second is very readable history. If Sebastyen has a bias, I can't really find it. The author himself fled Hungary as a child with his parents in the Soviet crackdown, so there is an additional dimension. There are some individuals and events mentioned in the Revolution book that clearly were the inspiration for some of Follett's characters, which makes the Edge of Eternity that much more plausible. I was not as disappointed as some others were by this book, despite it probably not being his very best.
Delightful social commentary with just believable characters that you come to care about. I'm back looking for Number 3 and I just can't picture listening to anything else right now.
This was my first Inspector Rutledge mystery and I'm still deciding if I would try another. I enjoyed the period, exploring the personal fall-out after World War 1 through a range of different characters. It seemed to move rather slowly for me, plus be busy with creating moods, which weren't necessarily relevant to the plot. Not my favourite, but I definitely wanted to finish it.
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