The way author brings the individuals involved to life, so that the outcomes are seen as uncertain, always influenced by character and small decisions that turn entire battles. The author describes geography well enough so that a lack of visual aids (maps) is not crippling to the listen. The book also beautifully ties together single events to the broad flow of the unfolding war; like the confrontation by the ironclads Monitor and Virginia threatening the entire campaign at it's beginning.
Author is able to bring to life the personalities of the various commanders. For example, the amateur thespian, Confederate Gen. Jeb Macgruder is able to delay the approach of the ever-cautious McClellan, by staging small groups of soldiers with lots of flags and drums marching back and forth between the James and York Rivers just barely in view of the enemy, convincing McClellan and his dysfunctional intelligence chief, Allen Pinkerton (Pinkerton detective Agency), that an enormous Confederate Army was maneuvering just out of sight, preparing to pounce on the Federals. In fact, Macgruder commanded about 5,000 men to McClellan's 90,000. Macgruder succeeded in stalling (almost entirely by ruse and display) the Federal advance nearly 3 months, long enough to permit Confederate Gen. Johnston to gather a sizable force to defend Richmond. I found myself compelled to go visit some of the battlegrounds around Richmond, and see the terrain in a new light. It's made me want to know more of the politics of the Federals and Lincoln's White House in particular.
Solid narration without either theatrics or boredom.
Fool's errand: McClellan's Grand Army of the Potomac
At the end of the book, the author begins naming battle forces by their commander's name, expecting the reader to know them as Union or Confederate; this is a bit of a strain on the listener.
How real the ancient characters become.
The Aquarius, the engineer in charge of the water supply and Aquaduct.
Yes! It's a fresh view of an otherwise difficult read. I've found that listening to books written before 1900 has made the stories come alive. English language prose from about 1700-1900 is often formal and very wordy to modern readers; it generally puts me off. The written form of Gulliver's Travels is especially like that. Jonathon Swift's phonetic spelling of foreign names and places reads awful. His overly polite and courtly speech is tiresome in print; it always bogged me down so that I missed the thrust of the story.
Ah, but spoken by Mr. Pierce the book comes alive. It is easy to hear the subtle sarcasm buried in the superficial formalities, to appreciate the satire embedded in nearly unpronounceable (but not to the narrator) names.The rendition becomes a delight to listen to and to remember. At work, I often see the same Swift characters, behaving the same way.
Why, Gulliver himself. How could one forget the scene in Lilliput (inhabitants very small but very self important) where the towering giant Gulliver, suddenly awakened from his night's sleep, strides over the town to pluck the queen trapped in her burning palace, then saves the palace from certain destruction by the only means available, pissing on the fire....the only water available....then enduring the rage and enmity of the queen, who orders the palace torn down and Gulliver's death to pay for such an outrageous act. Why wasn't this scene in the Disney version? Recanting this still makes me laugh out loud.
Do yourself a favor, try LISTENING to Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, any Washington Irving stories, Jack London stories; you'll be amazed by how good they are.
This series was like climbing a tree. One starts on a solid trunk of a story line, then encounters a few interesting side branches, but you are still firmly attached to the trunk. As the books continue, the reader finds himself in a tangle of increasingly tiny, parallell story branches, the plot line lost. This last book reads as an English assignment: "write a 5,000 word essay on....".
Yeah. Many authors that develop a lot of interesting characters, and perhaps have a contractual obligation to their publishers, end up ruining a good story by dragging it out.
He has excellent voice characterization, but after the first 3 or 4 books, even he can't keep up with the increasing senseless complexity.
a surprisingly well-written sci-fi, alternative history sort of story. It's the author's knowledge of the workings of an old destroyer and it's crew that fleshes this story out and makes it so compelling to listen to. Well read, too.
Capt of the Walker (commander of the destroyer), and the flexible Chaq, but hey, listen for yourself. It's kinda a boy story, being military and all, but it's a good one. One that would not disappoint on a long car trip.
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