This book covers an under-reported area of the WWII era. I think it will help younger people realize why that pivotal time still shapes the world they inhabit today. World War II is no longer part of the collective memory of the majority. I was born in 1945 so even as a kid I heard the people in my life talking about it. But to younger people WWII seems as distant as the Civil War-- it is hard for them to relate to.
I have a large WWII library, yet Year Zero filled in a lot of blanks in my understanding of events. I only had some generalities on how awful things were after the "peace." Year Zero was very enlightening.
I played this several times. Even though it seemingly wandered off into biographical topics, they were interesting and supported the main topic as a whole in the end.
The only problem I had with this book was the narration. Hitchens should let a professional speaker do his narration. I am used to British English and have done several audio books done by British speakers with no problem. The problem was with enunciation and pacing rather than accent. At times the rapid-fire mumbling was difficult to decipher for this American.
I can't disagree with many of Morris Berman's assertions.
Yes, moronic, vulgar, violent aspects of U.S. culture abound.
Americans are not exceptional. They are not exempt from human frailty and sin.
But were things better in any of the Good Old Days? During the days of
Berman's "Southern graciousness?" Is progress really an illusion? Not if
you know much history. Not if you have had my experience of working
with young people in K-12 schools. The Net Generation is far smarter and
more compassionate than their elders. Great social progress has been made.
Berman comes across as an "angry old white guy." Not the kind you see on
Fox. The kind found on the academic Left, whose life experience is spent in
academe, dealing with abstractions. The messy concrete realities that make
up the hustle of working life are seen from afar. That is for the "hustlers" Berman disdains.
The author's un-nuanced criticism of technology also expresses an elitist mindset.
Neo-Luddite ranting on "those kids and their gadgets" is another marker of the
Berman hates TV, even likes the Taliban prohibition of satellite dishes in
Afghanistan. I bought his Audible book because I saw him on CSPAN Book TV
promoting his book. Is he going to turn down his cut from those hustlers at Amazon?
Presumably the author does not cross the Mexican border on a burro when he
comes to the U.S. Bet he would prefer the speed and safety of flying Aeromexico,
bristling with avionics technology. Thanks to hustlers like William Boeing, Donald Douglas, et al.
Probably he avails himself of the wonders of the electric grid in Mexico City.
Brought to him by hustlers like Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse.
Berman might have a more positive view of progress if he saw studies showing that
human lifespan is doubled in areas with electricity. Beats "natural living" in Chiapas.
Maybe a high-tech hospital in Mexico City is the preference for medical problems, too.
Hopefully he is drinking purified water, getting vaccinations, eating safe food, and
using modern sewer systems--brought to us by technology hustlers.
"Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline" has plenty of cogent points and
is done by that rarity of academe: a good writer. But it is unbalanced. And hypocritical.
University age students, and others without much life experience, are likely to buy into it
uncritically. To do so is to buy into nihilistic hopelessness.
This book has done much to reset 50 years of misinformation that I have had about Christianity. Contrary to some reviewers, I think the editor was right to add "Atheist Delusions" onto the rest of the title. Having only the "Christian Revolution" part would have sounded like just another mundane book written for Christians. The author does make the case for why it was a revolution, but he also got into the fight against the people who use "The God Delusion" to make their point.
And I'm glad he was a bit snarky at times. The pretensions of modernity need a take-down. And they got it in this book.
I listened to this book three times. You simply can't get it once through. The narrator sounded robotic at first but his pace and enunciation were appropriate to the complexity of content.
A gripe on audio book design: Why can't Audible make its chapters match the book chapters?
This is a confusing UI issue that would be easy to fix.
A shame and disappointment that this great author was abridged to 3 hours. "Book" was more of a podcast than a book. Audible should not charge the regular price.
This is at the top of WWII histories.
"Nemesis" is an example of why Max Hastings is the foremost WWII historian. In a CSPAN Book TV interview he said that "World War II was the greatest event in human history." Considering its far-reaching effects--continuing through our era-- he has a strong case for this statement.A strength of the book is its many stories of ordinary people. One gets details and a sense of realism that is better than histories just talking about generals and politicians. Hastings humanizes the story. These realities resonate with me, a combat veteran of Vietnam.
I feel the criticisms of the narrator are wrong. Most Americans are intolerant of non-American English. This American thinks Stewart Cameron's British accent is quite easy to follow and clearly carries the story once you tune-in to the British cadence. It's really not that hard. Americans make a big deal out it. We should get used to the kind of English spoken by the majority of the English-speaking world. The author is, after all, British : -)Hastings has a British viewpoint, of course. But this is good for Americans. We tend to think we won the war single handedly.
Hastings is judgmental about key figures all around. This is one of his strengths, what takes "Nemesis" beyond ordinary histories. He says that some British generals were glad when they heard that their Orde Wingate was killed--that he wouldn't be around to get more soldiers killed by goofy heroics. His criticisms of MacArthur seem to sting some American readers. But even American soldiers at the time didn't think highly of MacArthur. A friend of mine who fought his way onto several Pacific islands told me that GI's called him "Dugout Doug," for his propensity to be at photo-ops only after areas were secured.
Hastings strong opinions on Japanese barbarity are another area that may offend current sensibilities. But all the old Pacific War vets I have known would agree that they were dealing with an enemy quite different than even the Nazis. One called the Japanese regime a death cult.
I would recommend it to a friend because it addresses "numero uno" : health.
She is one of the best narrators I have heard. I have heard the author speak in a podcast and Bennett brings her persona into the story. In this way she is like a good actor.
This is one of those books that changed long-held beliefs and reset my worldview. Every few years I run across one. The last time was "Power to Save the World: the Truth about Nuclear Energy" by Gwyneth Cravens. It overthrew decades of received wisdom--what I thought I "knew."
"Big Fat Surprise" does the same thing for the energy source used in our bodies.
This book, like the other, doesn't just make assertions. Seemingly paradoxical ideas are backed up with a lot of convincing history and evidence. Along the way you will learn some nutrition science. And some science history-- including the political corruption of science. If you are disposed to have popular orthodoxies challenged and overturned this is a great book. The kind of book one reads several times.
I agreed with the author's points. But, the organization, the structure, was a disappointment. The author got lost in too many tedious historical stories from the 19th century. Of the last ten audio books I have done, this is the dullest. And most of my books are about history or politics.
The book could have been more tightly built around more contemporary examples of idiocy in American life. At least it could have started in the 1920's, an era more relevant to us. There is plenty of idiocy material to work with in the last 90 years : -)
The different aspect of this book was its view of how the Japanese side got into the Pacific War.
Thus 36 million people--50% of WWII deaths--lost their lives.
It is also highly relevant to today. We still have stupid and delusional leaders--and followers--who continue the same disastrous militarism.
Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic.
"The Greatest Story Ever Told II"'
Good introduction to the newest ideas about geology." Newer" meaning the integrated view of Earth as both an organic and inorganic symbiotic system. How life created Earth and Earth created life. Versus the the older way of thinking about "rocks" being separated from
"animals." Also gives sense of Deep Time and Earth as a dynamic, changing thing. We can no longer think that "the mountains are eternal." Quite the contrary.
*Narration is good. But I wish that pace could be a little slower, with pauses after important points. Scientific subjects require processing time. This is one area where audio books are inferior to paper books. I don't know if there is an easy answer to the difference in format.
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