You no longer follow scmathew

You will no longer see updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can re-follow a user if you change your mind.

OK

You now follow scmathew

You will receive updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can unfollow a user if you change your mind.

OK

scmathew

Listener Since 2008

24
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 7 reviews
  • 22 ratings
  • 212 titles in library
  • 14 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0

  • Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

    • UNABRIDGED (46 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Diarmaid MacCulloch
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (420)
    Performance
    (237)
    Story
    (242)

    Once in a generation, a historian will redefine his field, producing a book that demands to be read or heard - a product of electrifying scholarship conveyed with commanding skill. Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity is such a book. Breathtaking in ambition, it ranges back to the origins of the Hebrew Bible and covers the world, following the three main strands of the Christian faith.

    Celia says: "Generally quite good"
    "A brilliant overview"
    Overall

    MacCullough has managed to present a long, and exhaustively complex story in an interesting and clearly understandable manner. He treats his subject matter respectfully, focusing strictly on the historical record and not taking a religious stand. Walter Dixon, the narrator, does a good job as well reading clearly and briskly, not getting bogged down in sometimes hugely complicated text.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India During World War II

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Madhusree Mukarjee
    • Narrated By James Adams
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (47)

    In 1943 Winston Churchill and the British Empire needed millions of Indian troops, all of India's industrial output, and tons of Indian grain to support the Allied war effort. Such massive contributions were certain to trigger famine in India. Because Churchill believed that the fate of the British Empire hung in the balance, he proceeded, sacrificing millions of Indian lives in order to preserve what he held most dear. The result: the Bengal Famine of 1943-44, in which millions of villagers starved to death.

    scmathew says: "A fascinating narrative with a flawed narration"
    "A fascinating narrative with a flawed narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Churchill's Secret War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's a pretty good audiobook. I've just listened to all of Simon Schama's "History of Britain" which ended off with some scathing commentary on the mismanagement of the Raj so it's interesting to move from that to an in-depth exploration of the Bengal Famine and India in the war effort.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of James Adams?

    Probably Madhav Sharma, who did a superb job with Kim. Mr Adams isn't a bad narrator per se, but the main problem is that he can't code switch accents when pronouncing a number of Indian terms and names which means that they sound tortured and very odd in his rather plummy British accent. This is, I suppose forgivable in the first couple of chapters where we get fleeting references to "die-wanns" (diwans) and so forth but in a book dealing primarily with India in the Inter-War period, the Second World War and it's aftermath, an inability to pronounce "satyagraha" or "Bose" (protip- it's not "Bo-Say") can be really jarring and jerks one out of the flow. It's as if I were listening to a history of the American Revolution and kept hearing about "George Wossingteen" (not that I'm trying to equate Bo-say with General Wossingteen) and the "Con-TINE-ental Congroos".


    Any additional comments?

    I wouldn't choose not to buy this audiobook just because of the narrator- in all else he's reasonably easy to listen to and Mukarjee's narrative itself is compelling and well written.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Civilization: The West and the Rest

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Niall Ferguson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (25)

    If in the year 1411 you had been able to circumnavigate the globe, you would have been most impressed by the dazzling civilizations of the Orient. The Forbidden City was under construction in Ming Beijing; in the Near East, the Ottomans were closing in on Constantinople. By contrast, England would have struck you as a miserable backwater ravaged by plague, bad sanitation and incessant war. The other quarrelsome kingdoms of Western Europe - Aragon, Castile, France, Portugal and Scotland - would have seemed little better.

    scmathew says: "Oooh, me accent's slippin'!"
    "Oooh, me accent's slippin'!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Good:

    I personally tend to find Professor Ferguson's political leanings distasteful and don't necessarily agree with his ultimate conclusions but this is a good book. Ferguson's overview of the institutional strengths that allowed Western Europe to pull ahead of China, India and the Middle East is valid, insightful and thoroughly entertaining. I appreciated the wealth of interesting anecdotes from obscure nooks and corners of history that made this a superb piece of narrative history. As a review of post-Medieval Western Civ, this is a must-read.

    The Meh:

    As I said earlier I'm not exactly a fan of Ferguson's ideological leanings but this is besides the point- at times Ferguson's smug self-satisfaction with the glories of Western Civ can grate a bit (speaking as an Asian listener) but I have to admit that he's fair in his assessment of how la mission civilisatrice often went horribly wrong, notably in the part of his narrative that concerns German colonial atrocities against the Herero. I do note, however that he steers well clear of any analysis of the British Empire in this section but I suppose he couldn't put his nostalgia aside. Fair enough- in all other respects a generally balanced text.

    The Bad:

    The narration. Dear god, the narration. Ferguson has a pleasant speaking voice and he uses it well...but for some reason he decided to do the accents for all the bits of quoted text. This, in itself, isn't necessarily a problem- Nadia May does a great job with the accents in The Guns of August- but Ferguson can't do accents to save his life! French, Russians and Germans get read out in what devolves into a strangely blended Jamaican patois. And when he quote from East Asian sources he does so in a hilarious Charlie Chan-esque 'me so solly' accent. It funny the first few times but quickly becomes jarring.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Kim

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Rudyard Kipling
    • Narrated By Madhav Sharma
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (90)
    Performance
    (62)
    Story
    (60)

    Set in the days of the British Raj, Kipling's finest novel is the exciting and touching tale of an Irish orphan-boy who has lived free in the streets of Lahore before setting out, with a Tibetan Lama, on a spiritual quest. Kim later enrols in the Indian Service and simultaneously embarks on an espionage mission of supreme importance.

    Carol says: "Fabulous Narrator"
    "Superb Narration"
    Overall

    India really comes alive in this reading- a magnificent performance that more than does justice to Kipling's masterpiece.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Barbara Demick
    • Narrated By Karen White
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (24)

    Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over 15 years - a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung and the unchallenged rise to power of his son, Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population.

    Hegarty says: "Amazing and moving true story"
    "Deeply interesting book, poorly read"
    Overall

    Barbara Demick sheds new light on the secretive North Korean state by exploring the personal lives of defectors. While she covers a number of gripping tales in an excellent journalistic style, this audiobook is sadly let down by an awful reading performance. Ms White, the narrator, reads slowly and hesitantly in a terribly melodramatic manner. At times she seems to be halting, on the verge of tears. In the end, she fails to do justice to the gripping material she's reading, turning a series of fascinating stories into a long slog, draining the listeners' energy. This audiobook is still well worth the listen but it could have been so much better.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Floods, Famines, and Emperors: El Nino and the Fate of Civilization

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Brian Fagan
    • Narrated By John Haag
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (9)

    In 1999, few people had thought to examine the effects of climate on civilization. Now, due in part to the groundbreaking work of archaeologist Brian Fagan, climate change is a central issue. Revised and updated 10 years after its first publication, Floods, Famines and Emperors remains the definitive account of how the world's best-known climate event had an indelible impact on history.

    scmathew says: "Potentially excellent, heavily flawed"
    "Potentially excellent, heavily flawed"
    Overall

    I have no complaints about the actual text- interesting subject matter and the text is on the whole well written. Unfortunately, the well-written prose and fascinating facts are robbed of any interest by the turgid and monotonous narration. I found myself getting frustrated at how boring this otherwise excellent book was being made simply by a poor choice of narrator.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • World War One: A Short History

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Norman Stone
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (119)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (43)

    In 1914, a new kind of war came about, bringing with it a new kind of world. World War One began on horseback, with generals employing bayonet charges to gain ground, and ended with attacks resembling the Nazi blitzkriegs. The scale of devastation was unlike anything the world had seen before: 14 million combatants died, a further 20 million were wounded, and four empires were destroyed. Even the victors' empires were fatally damaged.

    Tad Davis says: "Well told, well narrated; needs maps"
    "A great introduction"
    Overall

    At a bit over four hours, this is a short introduction to the First World War but it's surprisingly comprehensive, giving an excellent and well-rounded view of almost every facet of the Great War. Particularly interesting was the opening chapter on the complex chain of circumstances leading up to the war- listening to it one gets the impression that at the end of the long 19th Century everyone in Europe was trapped in a strange web of politics and economics making the war almost inevitable. Well narrated and easy to follow.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.