I learned a lot of facts about animal behavior and psyche, but I inevitably found that the writing style, which is perfunctory and clinical and rather junior-high-ish, got in the way of my enjoyment. I didn't finish the book, but made it about 2/3 of the way through, and still never quite understood the title. In fact, I found myself going home to my three cats and thinking of them more like living machines for awhile, which is why I didn't finish the book. Maybe it's just not my thing. However, the narration was quite good, and probably was the reason I made it so far through.
I used this as my "commuting" book, and I'm sure I looked a fool, driving down the highway with my jaw hanging open the whole time. The book is a fascinating glimpse into this movement--fascinating and disturbing--and seems to be unbiased in its research. The narration was also well-done, in my opinion, and I felt the writing was pretty good. The only thing I wished for was an index of the innumerable acronyms, but I realized finally that I didn't really need to keep them straight in order to follow the story--and that was an interesting fact, in an of itself. I highly recommend this book.
McCullough's writing is so natural, without being dumbed down, that I found myself completely immersed in John Adams life. I also found myself wishing that I could be friends with Abigail--so much so, that I have bought her biography. The letters the two exchanged with each other and with Thomas Jefferson were especially poignant. I found myself driving slower, so I could hear more on my morning and evening commutes, which nevertheless passed quickly.
Edward Hermann's narration is exemplary. I cannot say enough good things about his work. It's especially obvious when, a few times throughout the book, another narrator interrupts to summarize parts of the text that were left out. The first time this happened I was terrified she would finish out the book in her wooden, mannered, news anchor style, but thankfully that did not happen, and Hermann returned. He is a true actor, and makes the characters come alive.
No. It is a fascinating story, but I got so distracted by the narrator's inflection, which was nearly identical for every sentence, that I had a hard time focusing on the actual events in the story. He often does not give us enough time to absorb things before moving on to a new topic, which I also found distracting, and I often could not tell when a character was speaking, or whether it was the author.
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