Some books, like Joyce’s Ulysses, gain immeasurably from audio readings but paradoxically can be frustrating to listeners because of the density of detail, number of characters and the bewildering nonlinear narrative flow.
I think 100 Years falls into this category. Fortunately, I discovered an approach that helped me a lot. I first simply listened to a chapter, then read the SparkNotes and/or Cliff Notes chapter summary available free online (referring to the character lists as necessary) and then re-listened to the same chapter. I found my comprehension and enjoyment of the book increased dramatically.
It also increased my appreciation of John Lee’s approach. He reads the English translation with a rhythmic lilt, which usually I associate with poetry, not prose. But it gives the book an “epic” feel as if you were listening to the Bible or Homer or Dante being read. I initially found this strange and irritating but grew to appreciate how it created a dreamlike, hallucinatory quality.
Two caveats. This first volume was written in the 1930’s so some of its information is inevitably dated. Secondly, this book is really more about giving the Eastern context necessary for understanding Western civilization than a comprehensive guide to Eastern civilization.
That being said, it is a beautifully written history, alive with detail, with generous amounts of quoted literature giving the testimony and mindset of the people who lived through these times. One thing I like about Durant’s approach is that while he is always lively and opinionated, he doesn’t create strawmen. He is always sure to present the best case for differing points of view. It would be nice to see more of that quality in these polarized times.
This was thoroughly enjoyable to listen to.
I acquired this from Audible when it was briefly available in July but for some reason disappeared until now. I'm glad it is available again for other listeners to enjoy. Constantine Gregory does a superb job of conveying the richness of this book. I used to think of Brothers as just a dark and pessimistic work. While Gregory does justice to those qualities when present, he also brings out warmth, humor, and suspense, qualities which I never really focused on when I read the novel before. He also manages to make the long philosophical passages engaging and not monotonous. Highly recommended.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.