Somehow listened to the whole thing and barely know the history of Napoleon. Incredibly dry, both in narration and in writing.
The author skips major events, for some reason assuming we're already fully familiar with them. For example, the sack of Venice - an act that ended an empire over a thousand years old - rates all of about two sentences.
The author also has a strong bias towards England, repeatedly making partisan statements inappropriate for a "noted historian".
I'm guessing this was written quite some time ago, though there's no way to to know based on the description provided.
While perhaps not up to the level of Devil in the White City, I found Thunderstruck completely captivating. Just as in his previous book, both plots are very engaging. As the author admits in the prologue, sometimes the detail is just a bit over the top, but the vast majority of the time the extra bits of trivia are quite interesting.
While the narrator starts out speaking quickly at the very beginning (and only the beginning), I had no other issues with the narration. It was clear and never detracted from the story.
I stuck with this for the entire book, thinking somehow it would have to get interesting. One of the worst books of the 50 or so I've listened to in the last few years.
Gibson's intricate prose and frequent use of metaphor suit his previous work well, creating a unique world that one could otherwise never imagine. But when describing cities and products we're already familiar with, it's just overblown and silly.
Worse yet is the plot. The subject of the "mystery" is hopelessly uninteresting - I kept thinking we'd find a reason to care, but never did.
Unlike the multitude of reports heard during the war from embedded journalists, Atkinson's experience as a war historian provides a depth to our troops' experience during the war. While I was initially hoping for a more detailed summary of the war as a whole, as in Atkinson's brilliant Crusade (about the '91 Gulf War), this view from the 101st Airborne's perspective is still captivating. Unfortunately, the abridgement prevents the book from being completely engrossing. Whole chapters are skipped, with a separate narrator providing a summary. The book still flows reasonably well, but it's a pain to have things keep fast-forwarding all the time.
Only a few portions of the book, primarily the last chapter, deal with WMD and other potentially "policital" topics. Here Atkinson occasionally does insert commentary, but it generally feels like that of a historian's analysis. For the most part, it's a review of facts - for example, WMD weren't found and Iraq - Atkinson hardly "sneers" over this.
I wish it weren't abridged, and I hope he writes a Crusade-style book on the full war, but this one is still well worth a listen.
A fascinating subject, and while not as captivating as "Salt" or "Cod" by Mark Kurlansky, the author still holds your interest while describing the history of coal.
Unfortunately, her bias is clear - coal is and was a force of evil. The book dwells on the negatives from coal. While clearly the fuel has major environmental implications in the present world, even the historical discussion focuses almost solely on pollution, mining danger, etc. References to the historical positives are turned negative (i.e., coal permitted the rise of cities, but the book focuses on slums. Coal permitted improved production, the book talks about it's use in making weapons of war...)
When the author turns to modern times, that bias makes it a little hard to fully trust her claims. Discouraging, because there's a lot of intriguing information here on global warming and particulates.
It's still worth a listen, but I'd have preferred the work of a balanced scientist instead of a lawyer that reached a conclusion before starting her research.
The narration is excellent - clear and well paced.
From an educational standpoint, the amount of information in this book is phenomenal. No aspect of the eruption is missed, from the volcano's history to its science to its political ramifications. The author's personal experience with geology, volcanoes in general, and this specific volcano clearly shows. The downside of this mass of information is that the book often feels like it is off on a tangent. The writing is eloquent yet often dry, as can be the author's narration. Listening to it in the car, I found myself often losing interest and turning on something else. I love the subject matter, but I just didn't find this book captivating.
A twisted and brilliant book, with manipulative, conniving characters on all sides.
Excellent narration, easy to understand, and the voices used for the different characters are readily distinguishable.
While the movie was pretty good, the book is far better - deeper, stronger characters and a far more intricate plot. I saw the movie after listening to the book, but I'm guessing that the book would still be quite enjoyable after seeing the movie.
Unless you're a huge fan of the tobacco industry, this book is a blast.
For once, a decently abridged book. While there are still bits of the story not perfectly explained, and a few characters missing some background, the story almost flows like a regular book - far better than any other book I've heard. The narrator is easy to understand.
On the down side, it's not Grisham's most exciting book. A little slow based and unusually predictable. And the annoying music between chapters and occasionally in the background doesn't help.
After listening to Grisham's unabridged titles on Audible, this one is a little disappointing. The book is comparatively hard to follow, with characters easily confused or not developed - presumably due to the abridged nature of the text. I'd recommend this only for Grisham fans who've run through everything else.
Capably narrated, though by a different narrator than any of the other Grisham books.
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