After slogging through the first half of this book over the last 2 months, I gave up and moved along to something else. No fault of the narrator. I should have know better from McCullough's previous works. One primary source after another. Detail upon detail, minutia upon minutia. How is it possible to take such a profound story and reduce it to extended quotes about his son's penmanship? A story can reach a point (and this one did) where the detail simply overwelms the plotline. I found myself 15 hours into the story saying "OK, I understand what he thought. But why did he think this? What was his worldview? What motivated this philosophy? Who is this guy?". But all I had was an icon; another "empty suit" of a founding father. My fatal mistake was that I had previously read Ron Chernow's "Alexander Hamilton"; the antithesis of McCullough's style (and one of my Top 5 all-time reads). The first half of John Adams left me so bored I could not go on. So my 1-star rating can only apply to the first half of the book. I can only recall one previous time in my life when I found myself unable to complete a book. But I did feel a profound sense of relief when I finally "pulled the trigger" and walked away from this pointless and time-consuming pile of detail-flooded drivel. Sorry.
I have no way of knowing since I have not seen the print version.
Irrelevant question given the subject matter.
The new forced review format does not allow for a meaningful review. As a political science tome, this was an outstanding read.
Must be read with the sequel. A great thriller. On par with Ken Follet's best works.
The unnecessary and graphic sexual content at the beginning of the book could easily be removed. It added nothing to the story and prevents me from recommending this book to work colleagues. Gross. Get past that and it is a first-rate eye-opening warning about modern society.
Outstanding research packed with newly declassified material. I thought I understood Operation Paperclip very well. I did not know it at all. But I do now.
Must tie this review to Daemon. Taken together this was a superb action thriller with a dash of Ayn Rand social commentary thrown in.
Eye of the Needle is the only thing that comes to mind. Raw, sweeping and unrelenting.
When Merrit's avatar appeared.
Geek heaven with techno babble everywhere. The initially smart ass protagonist turned into a lovable, if dry, teddy bear. The tension level was almost unbearable. I was mentally exhausted halfway through the book and it didn't let up until the last page.
Vaguely reminiscent of Lucifer's Hammer, Silent Running and similar survival tomes.
The emotions of the characters were superb. Venkat in particular.
Without a doubt this is a very comprehensive overview of the War of 1812. Despite the subtitle, much of this piece is about the land war around the great lakes. The performance left me feeling like I was being lectured to. The story, while detailed, seemed to jump around needlessly; no doubt due to the decision to keep each chapter focused on one specific topic. If you are a fan of the Master and Commander series, you will enjoy this a lot. The author assumes a deep understanding of sailing fighting ships and their tactics. The personality sub-plots, of which there are several, are not particularly illuminating. Madison is an imbecile. Decatur a caricature. Tecumseh, a paper doll. It was worth the time reading and will also appeal to political and economic interests. In the end, there was no regret it was over, and the message remained somewhat obscure.
There was some new history and a lot of what I would delicately describe as "things that do not add to the betterment of humnanity". This is primarily a book about Human Factors, Excrement Engineering, and Space Physiology. For some reason I was expecting a book about long-term human exposure to the space environment. Still, it was a decent read and NOT time wasted. But it does suffer from the bane of "why use 10,000 words to tell a story when you accomplish the same thing with 100,000". It did get tedious towards the end and I contemplated (but did not act on) a desire to just hit the STOP button and move along to my next book. So for me, it had JUST enough interest to make it to the end. But seriously, there was little new material after about the 2/3rds point. On the other hand, if you have spent your life wondering about how astronauts deficate/have sex/eat dinner, etc. then this will be at the top of your list.
I started this book only mildly interested and ended with an example of how to build a new world. I could have used a lot more detail on the technical aspects of this story: page rank, server clusters, etc.; and less of the internal politics and business models. But the message which was repeated throughout this story was "change the world for the better and let the algorithms do the heavy lifting". It is almost curious that such a bunch of technonerds could make such a profound humanitarian statement, but that is Steven Levy's genius for detail as much as anything purposely done of the principals in this story. Ganser did a superb narration job. If we are lucky this will be the first volume with another installment in 20 or so years. Spolier Alert: Paleonerds will really enjoy this tale. For all others, proceed with caution.
The story started off well enough but left me bewildered when the namesake of the story died barely two hours into the telling. But what turns out to be the main body of the tale followed; a compelling revelation of the changes which tumbled out onto the world from Genghis Khan's too-short life. Change the title to "The Rise and Fall of Mongol Civilization?" (with a deliberate and intentional terminating question mark) and you'll go into the book with a much more realistic set of expectations. After a slow start and a creeping but unrelenting acceleration into the future, you find yourself arriving in the modern world with a newfound connection to the traditionally obscure Mongol Empire. But be prepared for some ear candy after the book is over. A chapter-length epilog reveals that much of what you just heard derives from long-lost but newly rediscovered ancient manuscripts. Surprisingly (to me), it turns out that Weatherford played a personal role in this rediscovery and he does not hide his rah-rah admiration for the great Khan. Though I try very hard to be cynical, I cannot help but be infected by some of the author's profoundly-emotional admiration for the grand results which arose from a simple man living in a simple (barely Bronze Age) culture. I could argue strongly with the quizzical nature of how the book was put together, but not at all with the overall result, a magnificent revelation which is certain to rewrite our own perceptions of the modern world. And, by the way, Davis does an outstanding narration job parsing this material out over a full 800 years of human history.
I almost didn't buy this book. I have read dozens of WWII histories and this seemed like it would be just another. I was wrong. Insightful analysis and an intelligent explanation of the 1939-1947 time period made me a believer. I say 1947 because it is clear from this story that WWII could easily have spanned that time period, and beyond. It is fair to say that this book turned around my entire thinking about what WWII meant to the world at the time and the world we live in today. On the surface, much of this books dwells on parts of WWII few others have discussed (e.g. Burma, Italy, etc.). But on a deeper level, it is a 21st century retrospective on what it all meant to us, the living today.Rodska's delivery is riveting. Robert's analsysis is dead on, tack sharp, and downright scary.
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