I always take first person accounts with a grain of salt, but read this as light relief from my usual serious reading agenda. It was an interesting picture of talent, the quest for stardom, and the distorting power of money and fame. The ins and outs of family and love affairs are always titillating but for me, the book is most informative as a social history of being gay in the pre-AIDS and post-AIDS Western world. Early in his life and career Liberace had no choice but to remain in the closet and, once the pretence was established, what could he do but maintain his stance and deny the rumours? It is a sad indictment of prejudice and persecution of gay men. How different Scott and Lliberace's lives would be if they were born now - if not fame/notoriety, at least more freedom to be who they are than they could ever have dreamed of.
I can only endorse the positive comments below - this is a great read. It deals with a complex topic in a way that anyone can understand, and it is interesting from start to finish. I don't know how many languages McWhorter speaks fluently but it sounds as though he knows quite a few. He reels off words and phrases in foreign languages with apparent ease. He is probably the only narrator who could do justice to this book. His informal approach and conversational tone are perfect for engaging the listener and they contribute towards rendering this specialist topic accessible to all.
I confess I stopped reading this book about half-way through the second half, and it was only in the hope that things would improve that I got that far. The early section on Wilberforce's childhood was quite good, but deteriorated with every chapter after that. The book may be interesting to students of Christian thought and philosophy but I think it's a book of interest only to the devout and non-Christians might best give it a miss. Fair enough that Christianity was the driving force in Wilberforce's life (after his conversion), but he did become something of a Bible-basher and Belmonte deals with Wilberforce's Christianity to the exclusion of nearly everything else. The big omission is Wilberforce's family life. I knew Wilberforce had children because their recollections of their father are dotted throughout from very early in the book, but how many children there were and how and when they arrived in the world isn't covered. The first I heard of Wilberforce's wife was a mere peripheral mention. Who she was and what she was like, their courtship (if there was one), their marriage and the birth of their children didn't rate so much as a sentence. What's more, the book is not well written. Its main fault is jumping around chronologically so you're often not sure where you are or whether your mind wandered and you and missed a chapter. Simon Vance does a sterling job of narration. He is to be applauded for sticking with it to the end.
This book explains cognitive dissonance and the related concept of self-justification. The research underpinning these theories is presented, with case examples which range from big political decisions which start wars to interpersonal conflicts which all of us deal with in our everyday lives. The easy and seductive part of the book is fitting the theories to the behaviour of people we know - it explains a lot. The tricky part is to keep reminding yourself that it is equally applicable to your own behaviour and may also explain a lot about you. With any luck it will help people to recognise their own mistakes and avoid making similar mistakes in future. Even if it doesn't change your life or improve your relationships, it's an interesting read and an easy way to learn some basic Psychology. Marsha Mercant has a very pleasant voice and does a very good job as narrator.
This is a story which everyone should know, and this presentation is as good as any I've seen. The quality of the script is well known, and these actors do justice to every word. It's a gripping few hours and it is no less relevant today than when it was written. The insights into human nature and the justice system can teach us all lessons about our prejudices and priorities and our relationships with others, and the way society works and often fails individuals. Excellent in every way.
This is a must-read book. Even if you are totally financially illiterate, you will still be able to understand the twists and turns of financial management reported in this book. It is a corporate crime thriller, with one man, Harry Markopolos, and his associates doggedly amassing evidence of the biggest swindle in modern history and repeatedly failing to get action from anyone in a position to do something about it. Early in the book I wondered whether Harry Markopolos was simply blowing his own trumpet - could anyone be so principled and dedicated and sacrifice so much of his life (and eventually his salary) for the good of others and the integrity of the system in which he worked? I looked him up elsewhere and, sure enough, he is a true hero. I kept reading, glued to the story and full of admiration for Harry. A great read from start to finish.
Unlike some other readers, I couldn't fault this book. It had well-drawn true-to-life characters, biting observations, funny and sad episodes, life crises, home-spun philosophy, strong narrative thread to connect the characters, and the added bonus of GK singing - the songs fit perfectly into the story and are interesting in themselves and really add to the presentation by bringing in another medium of communication. I loved it all - thank you GK.
This was my first GK book and it was a very pleasant suprise. GK's rambling style is unique, his characters totally believable and in many cases recognisable as someone we know (even ourselves), and his observations about life and death and human nature are astute, often amusing and often acerbic. Nobody could read it better than GK, he is simply perfect. I must confess the farcical episode on the lake at the end was way to hammed-up for my sense of humour, but GK gets to the heart of what matters in ourselves and others by being a master of observation and, of course, a master of writing. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
As a follower of the Beatles since the 1960s I really enjoyed this biography of Paul. Howard Sounes' detailed research is impressive, and I learned a lot about Paul the man, his relationships with the other Beatles, with family and friends and with other musos. The early days centred on sex drugs and rock'n'roll which became a little tedious, but once Linda arrived on the scene the focus changed and a mature and more interesting Paul emerged. Naturally the length of the book means a lot of characters and a lot of detail, but it held my interest from start to finish. I ended up seeing Paul as a decent and caring man and liking him for the person he is rather than liking his music and admiring him as a star. At the end I had just one question - why didn't Paul learn to write music? With so much musical apptitude and talent, his life might have been easier if he'd been able to jot down music as it came to him instead of waiting for a professional to do it for him. The book is well written, and David Thorpe does a great job of narration - right voice for the job and good with accents.
I really enjoyed the first half of this book - the plot was interesting and moved at a good pace, the characters were believable, there were some surprises with unexpected twists and turns, and I was keen to know what would happen next. But by the time the action moved to Australia it was all I could do to keep listening. The pace slowed, the plot was pedictable and not terribly convincing, a lot of the detail about cattle properties and outback towns was boring, and much of the format was reported speech which I found tedious. I thought that if I heard 'bonzer' or 'oh, my word' one more time I would scream. And couldn't someone have told Shute that there are crocodiles in Australia but no aligators! I know this is a novel of its time and one must accept the racism and sexism as part of society in the 1950s, but referring to Aboriginal people as 'boongs', 'gins', 'lubras' and 'abos' is so totally unacceptable nowadays that it grated every time I heard the words and it detracted considerably from my enjoyment of the book.
Robin Bailey is a first class narrator - his ordinary reading voice and accent are perfect for this story and his accents and voices for different characters are good - except for the Australian accent which is commonly considered very difficult to imitate and Bailey's attempt is yet more proof of the veracity of this observation.
This book is probably more interesting for Law students and practitioners than for true crime aficionados. I understand why the authors belabor the point about everyone, no matter how appalling the crime/s, having the right to a fair trial. Clearly a large section of the public was hostile to the idea of the apparently indefensible being defended - but the repetition of the point leaves the book sounding as though the authors' reason for writing it is self-justification and little more. Overall the book gets a higher rating that it might otherwise because of the outstanding narration by Robin Bloodworth - a truly 5-star performance.
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