I enjoyed this book quite a lot. The research and stories are very interesting and very important as we head into an increasingly-digital future. Engaging and valuable.
There's a lot to like about this book. Franzen is a great writer and every few minutes of listening gave me an apt phrase, a vivid image, a great simile, etc. I also thought LeDoux was an excellent reader, except for the job he did with the one Indian character. Otherwise, excellent. And there is the whole "freedom" theme that is explicitly and implicitly ever-present. However, I felt like the novel raised a conflict in the first hour of listening, subjected me to 23 more hours, then resolved the conflict in the last 14 minutes. There is so much to like that I didn't realize until 2/3 of the way through that I was actually increasingly frustrated with the book. It would probably be a great book to study / teach in college since all the characters shed different light on the freedom theme (a little like Pulp Fiction in which all the characters shed light on violence). However, this was just not a satisfying listen for me, and I now regret the time and money I spent on it.
I'm a high school literature teacher who is teaching myths and the Odyssey. I found Meineck's lectures very interesting and helpful; I'm on my second listen now. If you know very little or nothing of myths and the Odyssey and Illiad, you would benefit from reading a bit about those before hearing the lectures. You certainly don't need an exhaustive knowledge of the stories though.
I enjoyed these lectures quite a bit and thought they shed interesting light on their subjects. Very worthwhile for me.
This book reads like great historical fiction, but instead it's a factual account of America's involvement in Afghanistan through the lens of Charlie Wilson and Gust Avrokotos. I learned a lot about the Soviet and American history there as well as about the CIA and the Congress. I also frequently found myself pulling into a parking place and sitting there for an extra five minutes of listening because I was so engrossed and entertained. Though it ultimately sheds a very painful light on America's current involvement in Afghanistan, there is nothing painful about reading/listening to this book. Outstanding.
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