Europe, 1900 - 1914: a world adrift, a pulsating era of creativity and contradictions. The major topics of the day: terrorism, globalization, immigration, consumerism, the collapse of moral values, and the rivalry of superpowers. The 20th century was not born in the trenches of the Somme or Passchendaelebut rather in the 15 vertiginous years preceding World War I.
In this short span of time, a new world order was emerging in ultimately tragic contradiction to the old. These were the years in which the political and personal repercussions of the Industrial Revolution were felt worldwide: Cities grew like never before as people fled the countryside and their traditional identities; science created new possibilities as well as nightmares; education changed the outlook of millions of people; mass-produced items transformed daily life; industrial laborers demanded a share of political power; and women sought to change their place in society as well as the very fabric of sexual relations.
From the tremendous hope for a new century embodied in the 1900 Worlds Fair in Paris to the shattering assassination of a Habsburg archduke in Sarajevo in 1914, historian Philipp Blom chronicles this extraordinary epoch year by year. Prime Ministers and peasants, anarchists and actresses, scientists and psychopaths intermingle on the stage of a new century in this portrait of an opulent, unstable age on the brink of disaster. Beautifully written and replete with deftly told anecdotes, The Vertigo Years brings the wonders, horrors, and fears of the early 20th century vividly to life.
©2008 Phillip Blom; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
The narrator cannot pronounce a single name or word in the text.
It is really beautifully done - a detestable amount of detail about King Leopold's unsurpassed genocide in the Congo, but I am behind all of his unpacking of Colonialism.
Never, although he has a perky Adam Gopnik-like voice and I listened for way too long because of the book. There is not ONE SINGLE WORD in French in German he can pronounce to save his life, to my regret, as it ruined the book for me. I had to give up.
Great book I need to read in text and pronounce in my head correctly before I can decide.
Missed opportunity. Great book, I think. A well-meaning perky reader with zilch ability in French/German pronunciation [key to hearing]. I blame the audiobook publisher for not briefing him. A waste. If you doubt me, check out Robert Hughes in Shock of the New on Ubuweb, since it is a lot of the same names and words and he gets 100 percent, and the narrator here, barely a thing.
This reader has a good modulated voice and reads well. However, he mispronounces many words such as inexorable, decorous, etc. In addition,his French pronunciation is appalling.. Atget with the final T emphasized is just one example. Why didn't the producer pick a reader who has a background in French or at least a working knowledge of the language. Too bad.
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It???s hard to make clear what bugs me about this book. Overall I like it??? but???
I wanted a high-level overview of European history from 1900 to 1914, and while this book does provide that, it goes into too much small (unnecessary) detail. Like for example: a drilled down explanation of how Xrays work. Sure that???s all very interesting, but this is not a book about the discoveries of Xrays!! It is possible to talk about Marie Curie and why she matters in the grand scheme of history without detailed technical analysis of radio activity or how she discovered radium. It was like a Physics or Chemistry lesson, and I felt the book was getting off-topic.
I am only about a quarter of the way in and I think I have to change my expectation and approach the book more as a collection of historical anecdotes. I think that will help me better appreciate the material. Now, if only the information was presented as a collection of historical anecdotes!! Haha!! - I don???t like the 1 topic per year set up.
Almost done almost done almost done almost done almost done almost done almost done almost done ... one more chapter to go! Not Horrible, but I have to downgrade my rating from 3 to 2 stars because it's just so jumpy and the set up is lousy. That's not a critique on the content, but it was on the tedious side to get through...
I've been wanting to read this book for quite a while. Finally I see it's available in audiobook form and I buy it! Oh my gosh, I don't mean to be unkind but I hope they didn't actually pay the person who narrated it.
Mispronunciations: Auschwitz is pronounced "Oss-witch." Erascible is pronounced "Ee-rask-able." Barbara Tuchman's last name is pronounced "Touch-man." I could go on and on.
Accents: He starts out giving the French people Russian accents until I realize that is his idea of a French accent. However, he keeps his own American accent when reading British voices. I'm only about a quarter of the way through, but I think he has given up doing doing accents altogether.
Foreign Languages: I am no expert on correct pronunciations of French or German words, but I *think* he is murdering them too.
Sound Quality: Generally, the sound quality is poor; it sounds like this had been recorded in a broom closet. And when a correction is 'punched in' - that is, a phrase or sentence is re-recorded later on - it sounds so different as to sound like a different narrator in a different studio.
I was so glad to see this book was available in audiobook format, I made the mistake of buying it without reading the reviews first. I am sorry for that.
I agree that the narrator is a disaster. It's not only French words he butchers. He is impartial-- French, German, Italian, even a few English ones for time to time. Personal names, place names, ordinary words, without fear or favor. Still, if you can kind of guess at what he was supposed to say, the book is interesting. Each chapter is one year, and the author uses an incident during that year to explore a theme or related themes of the period. Mostly it works, occasionally it doesn't. The subjects covered are so varied that there is probably at least something here for anyone who is interested in the history of the period -- everything from Freud to Dreadnought.
Shame on everyone who had a hand in the production of this audiobook. The reader could not correctly pronounce words in any language, including English. Where was the quality control? Why did the editors allow such stupid errors? How could they release such shoddy work for sale? How could audible.com agree to sell such an inferior product? Be warned: buy this title in print and read it yourself. Listening to it will only set your teeth on edge and raise your blood pressure.
This book wasn't what I expected. It had more of a social tone than a historical tone. While parts were informative I was disappointed I did not come away with more.
If I were the author, I'd be looking for some restitution from the producer and audiobook publisher for the appalling quality of the narration.
I THINK the content was good, fine, instructive, and extremely well researched. However, every time the narrator mispronounced a word (and as the others have pointed out, in every language including English), I'd lose my concentration and my place for a few moments. The fact that the narrator of this book (or was it the producer) chose to simulate a French, German, or other accent....only to mispronounce words...made it all the more ludicrous.
In addition, not only does the narrator mispronounce words, he reads too rapidly and (as a result) slurs words. Perhaps this is why it didn't sound as if the narrator understood what he was reading.
This is a book better read than listened to, at least with this narrator/producer combination.
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