Cave Creek, AZ USA | Member Since 2007
As a black American who grew up in Washington, DC, I never had ANYTHING good to say about the Confederacy. Reading this series only proved my personal credo "Racism is born out of ignorance". Guess who was a hypocritical, ignorant racist? ME!!! I discovered that I knew about as much about the Civil War as I was taught in school about African-American and black Americans - NOTHING!!! Oh, we got a smidgen on George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass but only enough to fill a thimble. Although my family home was just 3 blocks from Fort Stevens where the Confederate army almost took Washington and where President Lincoln was almost killed by a Confederate army, we never learned the amazing story behind the fort which we used as a playground.
This series of books covers the Civil War from "A to Z". They are extremely well-researched, providing little-known information about this historical fight. I came away with a new respect for the South for fighting and dying for a cause in which they believed in totally. I learned that the Civil War wasn't about white people hating black people (although there were quite a few whites who held the ridiculous belief that we weren't even humans). The war between the North and South was more about the economic necessity for cheap labor to maintain America's dominance in agriculture which fueled Europe's dominance as an industrialist giant. And the proof was in the South's total destruction after the Emancipation Proclamation. Rich plantation owners were broke, busted and bankrupt. No cotton or sugar - no money.
I have a new-found respect for Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee and the multitudes of Confederate soldiers who lost their lives fighting to maintain their way of life. Of course, as a descendant of slaves, I'm glad that the North prevailed. It's just unfortunate that the South couldn't see past their noses and let over 20,000 skilled black artisans (carpenters, blacksmiths, seamstresses, etc.) leave for the North instead of revamping the South by becoming the nations center of furniture makers, ironworks, and purveyors of clothes for the rich and poor. To compound the country's total lack of vision, the alleged Northern abolitionists lost out also because it gave these new black citizens jobs as cooks, maids, nannies - actually, let's just call "a spade a spade: "Mammies" - butlers, house boys, and manual laborers.
That said, Shelby Foote gives a well-rounded objective insight into a much misunderstood war that didn't really advance America's narrow-minded view of the people it brought to these shores in bondage and oppressed for more than a century after this horrible conflagration. But I thank him for helping me see the Confederacy from a different and enlightening perspective. I had lived in Atlanta, GA for 15 years when I read this book. My northern family and friends couldn't understand how I could stand the "racist South" with its "good ole boy" attitude. That is something I have never experienced in Georgia. I don't worry about the Confederate flag or the hero leaders of the Civil War which are carved in the side of Stone Mountain, like Mount Rushmore. In all my years there, I was never called a "nigger" not once. Yet, after moving to Phoenix, AZ, I was called "nigger" four times in my first six months here. Has this country learned nothing? I still consider myself a "Georgia Peach".
According to Shelby Foote's amazing account, the south has nothing to be ashamed of for fighting for what it believed was right at the time. Now if the whole country can learn from past mistakes and move forward as a COMPLETE country - white, black, brown, red, yellow or purple with pink polka dots - we will be ready as a nation to defend our shores from foreign threats. Reading this book is the first step in the right direction,
Gotta love Italian police detective Guido Brunetti! Author Donna Leon serves up Venetian life with a side a great food and wines. The characters are well-rounded and the subject matter is deeply researched. I'm working my way through the entire series and I'm hoping that the missing audiobooks will be available soon.
If you're a true Georgette Heyer fan, you'll love this one! I listened to the abridged version of this book a couple of years ago but I enjoyed the longer one even more. Narrator Nicholas Rowe hits it out of the park with his characterization of Sylvester and the lesser cast members.
I love this series about Venetian police detective, Commissarie Guido Brunetti! Donna Leon writes great crime mysteries while giving the listener an "armchair" tour of Venice. I've read quite a few in this series and, even though several are not yet available in audio format, each novel stands on its own so they can be read/listened to out of order. Again we have great plot twists with a surprise ending, delicious food, good wines, mini-Italian language lessons, and locale color. Narrator David Colacci is awesome with his command of Italian dialects, along with those of Europe and North African - the melting pot diversity of Venice. This is a great book - ignore a recent "hater" who recently has been randomly rating ALL of my reviews as "Not Helpful". Listen to the books I review and judge for yourself. I'm honest about MY tastes but you may see something different. It's called individuality! Try this one for size - I think you'll love it as much as I did!
I've been a Heyer fan ever since I read my first work by her, also the first romance novel in my 60 years of reading. Again, Heyer does not fail to deliver yet another charming and witty Regency era book. Usually she writs from the perspective of an independent woman of either noble or genteel birth. Here she gives a great account of an overly protected Duke who escapes his handlers to spend several harrowing, exciting and often dangerous days as "Mr. Dash of Nowhere In Particular". Narrator Phyllida Nash is magnificent as always. Great story!
GRIPPING?!? I don't think so! This is probably the most boring book I've ever listened to. This was an opportunity wasted by the author. A little-known subject matter which COULD have made a great story. All I got was a greedy privileged man who thought he was above the law. When caught, Edward Smiley got sentenced for a white-collar crime. Yet, he stole valuable antique maps with the "mens rea" of a street thug. Cat burglars, jewel thieves and even map thieves should be charming and charismatic. Smiley had the personality of a box of wood chips! Author Michael Blanding does nothing to raise this subject and this sociopath to the level of any intelligent person's interest.
This is the 3rd of this series that I've listened to. I enjoyed "Fatal Remedies" and "Doctored Evidence" so much that bought this one before finishing the 2nd one. (NOTE: All of the books in this series are not available in audiobook format. However, each novel stands on its own without much passage of time between them so the reader is able to jump around, even skipping several without much negative impact.).
This book plods along with usual slow pace that the author seems to embrace, with much "stage business" like describing a person flicking imaginary lint from his or her clothing or the biting the lower lip in a contemplative manner while pondering a question asked. The reader is given indepth descriptions of Venice and the customs and mores of all of its disparate citizens. One can almost smell the canals, the crush of humanity on a hot humid day, or the bouquet of a very excellent wine at a sidewalk cafe. We become one with main character, Commissario Guido Brunetti, and his colleagues at the police department. Several reviewers have complained about the unbelievable amount of time that the author spends on telling us about Brunetti's personal life with his wife and two teenaged children. I agree that it is a bit overdone but somehow doesn't take away from the real story of rampant criminal behaviors in Italy (from common pickpockets to the highest political arenas in the country), the investigation of complex crime plots and, finally, the successful resolution leading to arrests - although not necessarily CONVICTION, since that depends on the socio-economic status of the perpetrator(s). That's seems to be the only reason that Brunetti has a job at all! If not for him, every poor Italian or illegal immigrant charged with murder - especially the Africans - would be lynched in the center of the Venetian version of Times Square ("Tempo Piazza", perchance?) after a very quick, very unfair trial. But I like Commissario Brunetti, Venice, his family, and his intelligent way of solving crimes against very difficult obstacles, including his immediate supervisor. I've learned a lot about the country, and even more about great foods and wines from Brunetti's wife, a fantastic cook. I've even picked up a fair amount of Italian "survival phrases" in just 3 books. Narrator David Colacci is outstanding! He's a master at all of the numerous dialects and accents in Italy, plus France, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Senegal, Sierra Leone, etc. - you name it, he can do it! All while reading in English with a decidedly non-regional American accent.
OK, that's my take on the overall series. As for THIS particular story, I was a bit disappointed. Usually the reader doesn't get the "reveal" until a few chapters from the end and even then, there's another unexpected plot twist. We are normally introduced to the murder within the first 20 minutes of the story. Next, we are "forced" - not in a bad way - to wade through hours of stage business, dozens of reoccurring secondary and non-reoccurring tertiary characters, needless dialogue, food preparation, plating, and devouring, in-depth location descriptions, police investigations (with much MIS-investigations from the higher-ups), Brunetti's illegal and often unethical undercover investigations with his personal team of "Untouchables" - until suddenly we all get the actual crime, why the murder (or murders) had to go down, and whom is responsible. Good stuff!
Here, the whole tapestry of the plot unravels within the first few paragraphs of the book. Follow me.....this is not a spoiler, just plain common sense that Sherlock Holmes' DOG could deduce: A broad daylight execution of a street vendor in Venice by two swarthy-looking guys recruited from Italy's version of "The Dirty South", i.e., Sicily. They use small caliber revolvers with silencers. The kill is up close, clean, and efficient. The victim is African. Once that tidbit is juxtaposed with the words in the title "blood" and "stone", it doesn't take a rocket scientist - or, in this case, a certified gemologist - to figure out where the story is going. The Mafia wasn't contracted over a bunch of knock-off Louis Vuitton purses! After the first 15 minutes, I was not desperate enough to salivate over the description of thyme-infused grilled skirt steak with creamy polenta and a glass of Badia A Coltibuono to commit an additional 8.5 hours to this book! No, grazie, i miei amici da Audible.com! Arrivederci!
If I hadn't wasted almost 15 hours for NO conclusion!
She could have wrapped this plot line up in THIS book, not force readers to waste another 15 hours listening to the next book in this series "Chosen To Die". By hour 5, I "Wanted To Die"!!!
Other listeners seemed to hate narrator Alan Nebelthau's fast pace. I'm really hard on narrators, yet that was not my problem with him. This book is written by a woman, about women victims and women detectives. Why use a male narrator? To distance the story from "chick-lit"? I can't imagine how anyone could get mixed up with the raw, grim subject matter. Nebelthau Is not bad but his craggy, "Tombstone" cowboy voice just doesn't fit.
Way too many to list here. Just let me say that I skipped Chapters 12 thru 23, inclusive. And I don't feel like I missed a thing!
This book could have been told in half the time. Interwoven separate plot lines were unnecessary and intrusive upon the main story. Then to slog through 15 hours of a jumbled story, only to find out that I have to buy ANOTHER book and slog through an additional 14 hours is just too much. I love book series - the listener/reader gets to become comfortable and knowledgeable about the main character along with several reappearing supporting ones. The only thing that changes is the crime/mystery/thriller - the detective solves each crime in each book and we move on together. I don't buy into "cliffhanger" novels where I go through hours of investigation and terror, only to NOT find out what happened. And, in the end, all of these different plot lines just don't align up right. By skipping most of this book, I still ended up where everyone else did - in a lot less time.
At first I had difficulty getting into this story. Mainly because it's about a rap artist charged with murder and the fact that I've worked in rap for 25 years as a consultant and songwriter. For me, it seemed like it was panning out to be the same misunderstood white person's idea of the rap genre and the people involved. In some ways I was right. But, for the less jaded, overall this was a good story with plenty of unexpected plot twists. The narration is perfect for this book - usually a major complaint for me.
I've read a kazillion true crime books but this is hardly a really good one. This is less about the horrific murder of a young teen than it is an indictment of the family and friends on what is allegedly a bucolic Long Island neighborhood. The possible murderer takes a back seat to the uncivilized, animalistic actions of the victim's family in the wake of the crime and the people who lived on the street where the crime took place. As the wife of a murder victim, I can say first-hand that fighting among the families takes away from what a trial is all about: Justice For All. The adults' behavior was so outrageous that the listener completely forgot about the poor child who was murdered. Pass on this one.
THIS is the book to read for the stories behind HBO's "Pacific" mini-series. The show was based on this book and "Helmet For My Pillow", which I read first. It was so poetic, prosey and philosophical that the reader/listener doesn't really FEEL the horrors of war from the men who fought it on the ground, as "cannon fodder". Think of Shakespeare writing "Generation Kill": "Where the art thy going, Caesar? Can not thou see-eth that thy tank-eth hath sallied forth a mere 10 clicks from Angincourt?" That's literally how flowery "Helmet" was!
But here we get first-hand all of the horror and fear of the young men, many still in their teens, who are inadequately prepared mentally for such trauma. US Marine E.B. Sledge's name has been mentioned in quite a few of the books that I've read about World War II in the Pacific. It's easy to see why so many people had a great respect for the brave young man. I don't even need to watch the mini-series after this book. I'm glad that the other story involved didn't keep me from such a great experience!
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