This is a fascinating and informative book on one of the most complicated and complex individuals of the founding fathers of the United States. You get a real picture of the immense talents and shortcomings of not only Jefferson but many of the other founding fathers such as Adams, Madison and Hamilton – they seemed to be the perfect counterbalance to each other at a time when had either the Federalist or the Anti-Federalist factions been exclusively in power this country might never had survived to become the country that it is today. Washington must have truly been an amazing leader to have been able to marshal the talents of Jefferson, Hamilton and Adams in one cabinet during the most critical time in the fledgling countries development, especially since they all were fundamentally opposed to each other’s vision and philosophy of Government. Jefferson’s steadfast opposition to Monarchy certainly was a factor in ensuring that this country did not eventually drift back towards the British model during some of the challenging periods of the post revolutionary period. Mr Meacham does an excellent job in presenting a realistic portrait of Jefferson, flaws and strengths. Ed Herman is one of the better narrators for bios and he does an outstanding job in this one. I would strongly recommend this book if you enjoy American History.
While there is actually very little in this book about the conversion of Europe, it is nevertheless an interesting portrait of Constantine. The book focuses on Constantine's conversion and his subsequent push towards making Christianity the formal religion of the Empire. The book has a few sections that get a little dry when it focuses on the schisms and sects that began to emerge within Christianity is it grew within the Empire. Most of the focus in this book is actually on North Africa and the near east.
Constantine, and the actions that he took had huge impacts that can be felt to this day. His decision to make Constantinople a Capitol for the Eastern Provinces I believe created a divide in Europe that can still be seen. Western Europe and the religion that evolved there is to this day very different from the Orthodox Christianity that exists in Easter Europe. And the fact that the Roman Empire, and later Europe became the bastion of Christianity was certainly impacted by the actions of Constantine. The book points out many flaws and strengths that he seemed to have, certainly he was no Saint but he was markedly different from previous Emperors.
Charlton Griffin is one of the premier narrators for audio books and does an outstanding job in this one. I would recommend this book if you enjoy Roman History, it is however very slow in some parts, particularly those focused on the various infighting among the sects.
I had read this book years ago and forgot how intense it really was. There is no slow build up, this one is a thrill ride for the entire book. And in the end, you are left wondering. I found myself looking forward to my commute to hear more. Really, it is one of Dean Koontz' best books, along with "Lightning" and "the Watchers". The narration takes some getting used to, it was almost annoying at the beginning but ended up decent. If you are a fan of Dean Koontz then I would say this is one you will really enjoy.
I read the first offering in this series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and thought it to be the best new detective series I had read in several years. The chemistry between the characters was top notch. This book, the Silkworm, is the second book in the series and was kind of a disappointment. I still like the main characters, the chemistry between them is in the same league as Mulder & Scully or Kirk & Spock, but the storyline on this one can best be described as being weak and farfetched. It had so many characters and potential suspects that it really didn’t lend itself well to an audio version in my opinion. The narration was again top notch, there just simply wasn’t a lot to work with and that is why it fell way short as compared to Cuckoos Calling. I would probably still recommend it to people that enjoyed the first one simply to keep up with the evolving interactions between Strike and Robin. I hope the next one is closer to the original.
The four hour work week by Timothy Ferriss is an extreme and somewhat inspiring book – lots of incredible ideas and a few that would seem to be unwise and very likely to get one fired. He obviously is a smart, motivated person that has an optimistic perspective and wants to live life to the fullest. One theme that resonated throughout his book was not putting life off, not waiting until you are too old to enjoy retirement to retire – in fact he recommends mini retirements throughout your life. He points out so many areas in the modern career that are very unproductive and unnecessary – I think that is essentially how he came up with the title of his book, by eliminating a lot of the routine and unproductive activities in a typical work week, there is not a lot left. Another takeaway was his separation of stuff from substance – focusing on experiences in lieu of toys and objects obtained just to associate a person with affluence. The parts of the book that I found to be the most challenging was when he would go into long discussions on website after website after website, and I figured those would be better suited for a regular book. I will probably re-listen to it again in the future.
The narration by Ray Porter was exceptional, I believe he is one of the best narrators in the business.
I wasn’t sure that I wanted to waste one of my credits on this novelization of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The middle of part I started to get a little dry, but the pace picked up very quickly in the second part. The second part has all of the elements of a good suspense novel. For a large portion of part 1 I didn’t really like any of the characters, but as the story progressed you could empathize with several of them. It kind of reminded me of Game of Thrones in that regard.
The narration was well done and I loved the afterward with the authors talking about the evolution of this timeless story and how the modern day renditions are probably quite different from the story that was probably used during Shakespeare’s time. I plan on trying one of their other novelizations. This one is worth the credit.
The Harry Bosch series is probably my favorite detective series and the Narrows may be the most enjoyable of the entire series. It has some very funny stuff, a really interesting story line that is suspenseful and fast paced and it has great chemistry among the characters. Len Cariou is the best of the Bosch narrators and he does an excellent job in this one. The character development and interaction is exceptionally well done. This one is so good that I have listened to it multiple times - if you are a Harry Bosch fan you will really enjoy this one, I would recommend listening to City of Bones, Lost Light and the Poet first to better understand the plot of the Narrows.
Empires of the Sea is an excellent book, well worth the credit. I found it to be interesting, informative and well written. I had no idea of the magnitude of the slave trade that was perpetuated by the Ottomans and the Barbary Corsairs from their raids of Italy and Spain. Entire populations on some islands and towns were captured and taken away into slavery. The book is actually very suspenseful as it goes into very detailed descriptions of people and soldiers undergoing a siege. The leadership of the defenders at Malta was another aspect that I found to be incredible.
I also found it interesting that the author suggests that economic impacts from gold and silver discoveries in the New World may have been one of the greatest factors in the decline of the Ottoman war machine.
Narration was top notch.
If you enjoy European history you will enjoy this book. I would also recommend the great siege by Ernie Bradford as a complementary book to this one
Prior to reading this book I had no idea that the Bronze Age seemingly ended so suddenly. The author presents a number of potential causes, although a strong case for an exact cause is still lacking. Only issue I had was I had hoped to learn more about the "sea peoples" that were referenced by he Egyptians and several other Mediterranean cultures. It is still uncertain who they were or where they came from. It was amazing to see not only the amount of trade that was taking place across the Mediterranean in the 13th Century BC, but also some of the correspondence between rulers and empires.
The Narration was decent, but not great.
I have enjoyed several offerings of the Great Courses Lectures on Historical events and this was one of the more interesting ones.
Professor Gallagher has done an excellent job in detailing all of these interesting leaders within Lee’s high command. I especially like the balance he utilizes in showing both the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals. With very few exceptions the assessments are even handed, although there are one or two officers that his take seems to be more of a personal like or dislike than one of looking simply at the facts. A few things in the book really stuck out – first was the incredible attrition rate of the officers in the Army of Northern Virginia due to deaths/wounding in battle. There were rarely back to back battles in which the same command structure was actually in place, other than Lee himself. There was a constant need to reshuffle leadership following the engagements. Another interesting analogy made by Professor Gallagher was his comparison of Lee’s role with that of Dwight Eisenhower, who also had to deal with strong, aggressive and competitive personalities of subordinates such as Patton and Montgomery, with Lee that role was even a greater necessity as a large number of his Senior Leaders seemed to stay in perpetual conflict with each other. On numerous occasions there were officers arresting other officers for what seemed to be more out of a competition than any real military error. Lastly, it was really amazing to see how successful many of the officers were at one level, then as they gained rank they become ineffectual or only marginally successful – the Peter Principle.
If you are interested in the make-up of the officers in the book then you will really find the book interesting. I will say though, if you are more interested in details of their actions taken in famous battles; this book may not be what you would be looking for. The Battles are only described in the most general of terms.
I was hoping to glean some ideas for organizing and uncluttering and this book delivered in a big way. Have already started applying some of the principles from the book and can see real value in so many of the ideas that he presents in the book. The length of the book was about right, it moved at a fairly fast pace and the narration was very enthusiastic. The book is very comprehensive – goes over everything from photos, cars, keys, gifts and a great deal more than just clutter.
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