LISTENER

Mike From Mesa

  • 209
  • reviews
  • 2,412
  • helpful votes
  • 287
  • ratings
  • The World Remade

  • America in World War I
  • By: G. J. Meyer
  • Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
  • Length: 24 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 169
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 155
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 153

After years of bitter debate, the United States declared war on Imperial Germany on April 6, 1917, plunging the country into the savage European conflict that would redraw the map of the continent - and the globe. The World Remade is an engrossing chronicle of America's pivotal, still controversial intervention into World War I, encompassing the tumultuous politics and towering historical figures that defined the era and forged the future.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • "100% America" - a disturbing place to be

  • By David P. McGivern on 04-01-17

The Wilson Administration and World War I

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-14-18

This is the third of My Meyer’s histories that I have read, and it serves as a sort of companion book to Mr Meyer’s other book on World War I, A World Undone. That book concerns itself with the lead up to World War I, the unsuccessful attempts to prevent the war from starting and the major events of the war. This book is almost entirely about the US actions during the period it called itself neutral and during the war itself, and so is a mostly political rather than military history, although there are sections describing how the US military worked with the British and French forces in France and some information about US led attacks. The book then covers actions by the US and the Allies (listed here as separate entities since the Wilson Administration always referred to the British and French as associates, and not as allies).

Mr Meyer’s books have been extremely interesting to me, both because they are well written and because his books always seem to contain chapters giving background information that makes the main events more understandable. Almost half of the chapters in A World Remade cover background events both before and during this period, and give information that I, and perhaps others, were not aware of since the World War I period has not received as much attention as that of World War II in the last 30 or 40 years. In the background chapters in this book we hear about how the US had become an economic colossus during the 19th century, almost without noticing, and how Europe and the UK viewed the US, given that power, information about some of those figures who were important in the Wilson Administration, even if not much is taught about them today, the mystery about why the British passenger ship, the Lusitania, was where it was when she was torpedoed rather than where she should have been to be safe, about the strains of isolationism that ran through the US at the time as well as much, much more. This was particularly helpful to me because, even though I was well read about the US during the period leading up to World War II, I was not particularly familiar with the US of the 1910s.

Most histories, especially those concerning the last several hundred years, have a point of view, and this book is no different, and what struck me the most was the author’s detailed explanation of the hubris of the Wilson Administration during these years. The Lusitania became an important event for the US because there were US passengers on board who died when it was sunk by a German submarine. The Lusitania was apparently carrying arms at the time she was sunk, and thus was a legitimate target for the Germans, but Wilson, against the advice of many of his advisors, insisted that US citizens had the right to safe passage on any ship, even warships sailing in declared war zones, and that Germany was to be held accountable for the loss of any US lives regardless of the rules of war as they existed in the years leading up to World War I.

Added to this are the questions about how the war changed Wilson who insisted prior to US entry into the war that the only way to end the war was with a treaty that avoided harsh treatment of the loser, only to become a champion of one of the harshest peace treaties of the modern era. Added to this we have the Wilson administration passing the Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918), and a variety of other laws intended to stop Americans from questioning US participation in World War I and his refusal after the war to accept even slight compromises to have the US Congress accept the League of Nations, and we have some idea of the hubris of his administration.

It seems too simplistic to suggest that Mr Meyer is more sympathetic to World War I Germany than to Great Britain and France, but he does make the point that World War I Germany was not World War II Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm II was not Adolph Hitler. The book details what we would today call war crimes on both sides, but debunks the idea that Germany committed the atrocities the British claimed they did in Holland during the invasion and occupation by showing that no Nuns were raped and no young boys had both of their hands cut off. He spends considerable time describing the British Blockade of Germany during the war and the effect that had on the civilian population, with the brunt of the resulting malnutrition and starvation falling on the elderly and the very young. While such actions, horrible as they may be, can be at least understood as the result of the excesses of war, it is more difficult to understand why the British continued the food blockage after Germany had asked for an armistice and demobilized its army.

The book is extremely well written, as have been all of Mr Meyer’s histories that I have read, and is well narrated. I found this to be an extremely interesting book, well worth the time and I recommend it highly to any who are interested in US actions from 1914 through 1917 when the US entered the war and on through 1919 when the peace Treaty of Versailles was finally signed.

  • The Lost Airman

  • A True Story of Escape from Nazi Occupied France
  • By: Seth Meyerowitz, Peter F. Stevens
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
  • Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 942
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 865
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 859

Bronx-born top turret-gunner Arthur Meyerowitz was on his second mission when he was shot down in 1943. He was one of only two men on the B-24 Liberator known as Harmful Lil Armful who escaped death or immediate capture on the ground. After fleeing the wreck, Arthur knocked on the door of an isolated farmhouse, whose owners hastily took him in. Fortunately, his hosts not only despised the Nazis but had a tight connection to the French resistance group Morhange and its founder, Marcel Taillandier.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful Story of the French Resistance in WW2

  • By Rebecca Lawton on 06-19-17

A mixed bag

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-25-18

This has been both an interesting and disappointing book for me, so I find myself torn in writing a review. On the positive side this book opened an area of World War II that I have not seen before in describing the difficulties for escaping Allied airmen in finding their way back to areas under Allied control and the workings of the French Resistance, but does so in a book that should have been much, much better.

This book contains the story of Arthur Meyerowitz, a flight engineer on a bombing mission over Southern France in 1943. His plane is shot down and he luckily finds himself rescued by the French Resistance, and the major part of this book details the what he went through trying to get out of France, through Spain and back to the Allied lines. The story is both amazing and disappointing. Amazing because of the pains and trials that he, a real person, went through in living in Nazi occupied France passing himself off as a deaf and mute Frenchman, and for the story of the brave French men and women who sheltered him, fed him and passed him along to the next person on the way out of France. Amazing because of the details of how the French Resistance worked, who some of the main leaders were, how they managed to survive and function when they were surrounded by the German Gestapo and Army. This book has all of the elements of a top-notch thriller, made even more compelling by the fact that it is all true, but fails badly due to both writing and narration that are not really up to the task.

In spite of the gripping story unfolding in this book the writing seems too detached from the events. We are told what was happening and how people felt, but this is real-life drama set against one of the most compelling backgrounds in recent history and the writing should have been as gripping as any well-written thriller novel, but instead felt so concentrated on Arthur Meyerowitz that it missed the opportunity to become a greater story of the bravery and cunning of those involved in helping him. Similarly the narration, which is adequate, should have been better. The narrator continually pauses far too long between sentences and, even though I listened at a higher speed to try to eliminate the excessive pauses, it was still annoying.

Never the less, this book made me realize that as much as I have read about the European Theater of World War II I know next to nothing about how the French Resistance worked, how it flourished and where it failed, and I find I know more about the anti-Nazi opposition in Germany than about that in France, so this book did open an area of interest to me which I will attempt to fill, provided I can find books to fill the information gap.

A mixed bag.

  • Case Red

  • The Collapse of France
  • By: Robert Forczyk
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Length: 14 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 50
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45

Even after the legendary evacuation from Dunkirk in June 1940 there were still large British formations fighting the Germans alongside their French allies. After mounting a vigorous counterattack at Abbeville and then engaging a tough defense along the Somme, the British were forced to conduct a second evacuation from the ports of Le Havre, Cherbourg, Brest, and St. Nazaire. Case Red captures the drama of the final three weeks of military operations in France in June 1940.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not Forczyk's best offering

  • By S. James on 01-30-18

A big disappointment

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-09-18

The question as to why the French Army collapsed as quickly as it did during World War II has always been a mystery to me. France had a very large army that was thought to be the best in Europe, if not the world, yet the German conquest of France took only about 3 weeks. The accepted argument that France was splintered from within and had lost the will to fight before the war even began never seemed to ring true to me as Germany was a long time enemy of France and had invaded multiple times over the previous 100 years and most people, aggressive or not, will fight if their homes are invaded. Given that I was interested in this book and hoped that it would answer this basic question for me.

The title of this book, Case Red, represents the German Army's plan for the second half of the invasion, Case Yellow representing the first part, but more than half of this book describes the initial German invasion and the actions of the German, French and British forces and the development of the actual Case Red fighting covers only the last 6 hours or so of the book. The descriptions of the initial battles are interesting, but suffers from a basic failing of the audio version of the book, at least for me. The book uses the native German and French names of the individual battle groups, companies, battalions, divisions, and so on, and thus the listener has to thread his or her way through German and French names for organizations and their associated abbreviations. Thus, in one 10 minute or so section we have the following abbreviations - DI, DRDI, BCC, RMVE, RI, DLI, DIA, RTA, REI, ADA, DIL, CA, DIC, RICMS and others - and it became impossible for me to follow who or what organization was doing what was being described. This would probably not be much of a problem in the print version of this book but I found it impossible to keep up with what was going on in the audio version. While I could cope with the German descriptions, having learned enough German to keep up during my university education, I found myself completely lost in the French descriptions and this issue made me lose sight of what was being described and spoiled what should have been a very informative book for me.

The book was at least partially helpful as the author made clear his belief that it was the lack of proper armament and supplies that lost the war for the French rather than their fighting spirit, and he mades a good case that the French colonial troops, dismissed by the Germans as of little value, performed very well and were up to the fighting ability of the Germans.

The narration itself is fine and well done, but it has to deal with the print version and so I found myself constantly backing up to try to understand what had happened. In the end I gave up and may well buy the print (or Kindle) version of this book. I believe that there is an excellent book, but not in the audio version.

  • The Fall of Berlin 1945

  • By: Antony Beevor
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett
  • Length: 17 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 292
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 269
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 268

The Red Army had much to avenge when it finally reached the frontiers of the Third Reich in January 1945. Frenzied by their terrible experiences with Wehrmacht and SS brutality, they wreaked havoc - tanks crushing refugee columns, mass rape, pillage, and unimaginable destruction. Hundreds of thousands of women and children froze to death or were massacred; more than seven million fled westward from the fury of the Red Army. It was the most terrifying example of fire and sword ever known.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engrossing

  • By Salui on 09-06-16

Very good history of the Fall of Berlin

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-18

This is the 3rd of Antony Beevor's books that I have read, and it is the best. It is not the first book I have read on the Russian Army's capture of Berlin during World War II, but it is consistently interesting, avoids the trap of being overwhelmed by the details of the battles, and never loses sight of the people involved, both Germans and Soviet. While many of the actions taking place during the battle were also covered in the other books on this topic that I read, there was also a great deal of information which I had never seen in print before and explained some things that had always been a puzzle to me.

The Red Army suffered terrible casualty rates during the fighting, but the number of soldiers in the army never seemed to drop significantly and I never knew why until I read this book. The Soviets drafted prisoners from the Gulag, newly conquered Polish subjects and liberated POWs to keep their strength up. They instituted classes to insure that the Red Army soldiers hated the Germans, and that proved to be a problem when German territory was conquered. They freed German POWs to go back to their old commands and persuade other German soldiers to surrender. The book is full of interesting information about actions both the Soviet and German armies took that were unknown to me prior to reading this book as well as some incidents that beg even bigger questions - were there really women SS officers? Did the Russians really have any interest in invading Denmark? Why was Zhukov kept in the dark about the Russian Army finding Hitler's body? And much, much more.

The basic outlines of the story of the Russian effort during World War II has largely been of only secondary interest in the West since most of the writing about the war naturally tended to cover the battles in Western Europe where the British, French, American, Canadian and other western soldiers were involved, or the war in the Pacific. There have been a number of recent books about the battles in the East - Stalingrad, Kursk, Warsaw, Prussia and, of course, Berlin, and this book adds nicely to those books.

The narration of the book is excellent, although some might find the British accent of the narrator annoying. Personally the narrator's accent disappeared for me after about 10 minutes of listening when the immediacy of the events took over. I recommend this book to anyone interested in how the German state and Army slowly fell apart as the Russian approached Berlin, how the Red Army conquered Berlin and how the Red Army treated both the defeated German army and the civilians.

  • Paradox Bound

  • A Novel
  • By: Peter Clines
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,744
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9,218
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,197

Nothing ever changes in Sanders. The town's still got a video store, for God's sake. So why doesn't Eli Teague want to leave? Not that he'd ever admit it, but maybe he's been waiting - waiting for the traveler to come back. The one who's roared into his life twice before, pausing just long enough to drop tantalizing clues before disappearing in a cloud of gunfire and a squeal of tires. The one who's a walking anachronism, with her tricorne hat, flintlock rifle, and steampunked Model A Ford.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • I tried SO hard, I really did!

  • By Angela Spencer-mukes on 10-04-17

Well, I did finish it

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-31-18

This was the 3rd Peter Clines book that I bought, the first two being "14" and "The Fold" and both of those were memorable. This book was not, at least not in a good way.

For me there were many problems with the book. The overall story line just seemed silly and the world the author constructed just did not hang together for me as a logical structure. I am more than willing to suspend belief in the cause of a good book, but this book just seemed unreasonable to me. Second I found I did not much care about most of the characters and was unable to feel any empathy for their plight. Most of them were in their predicament by their own conscious decision and seemed to enjoy what they were doing, so why should I feel sympathy for them?

I kept reading because I was sure that things would settle down and get better, but that turned out to be the triumph of hope over experience and my main feelings at the end of the book were relief that I had finished and the feeling that I wanted my 12 1/2 hours back. I thought the plot was juvenile and the characters one dimensional, but Ray Porter's narration was first class, as usual. I will be more careful about buying a Peter Clines book in the future.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Days of Noah

  • Book One: Conspiracy
  • By: Mark Goodwin
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pierce
  • Length: 7 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,412
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,291
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,282

Could we be living in a time of which there is more prophetic writings than of any period in history? Noah Parker, like many in the United States, has been asleep at the wheel. During his complacency, the founding precepts of America have been slowly, systematically destroyed by a conspiracy that dates back hundreds of years. The signs can no longer be ignored and Noah is forced to pull his head out of the sand and see things for what they really are.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing Read !!!!!!!!

  • By Tim Boyden on 05-13-16

Lost me at the Illuminati

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-24-18

Usually I am all in for a good end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it novel as this generally provides a good field for an analysis of how people might react, given extraordinary circumstances. I do not read Zombie books as they are generally nothing but a sequence of violent episodes as people try to survive by killing the already dead, but I have been reading books like Lucifer's Hammer and When Worlds Collide all the way back to when I was a young teenager and have kept that up with newer books like One Second After.

What bothered me about this particular book is how paranoid everyone seemed. I was just not able to suspend belief enough to accept that someone would be arrested and thrown in jail for some of the things that happen at the start of this book, and the book completely lost me when people started blaming the Illuminati. I never made it past the first 1 or 2 hours, so perhaps it gets better, but I suspect I will never know.

On the positive side the narration is quite good.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Eagle and the Wolves

  • Eagles of the Empire, Book 4
  • By: Simon Scarrow
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 12 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 99
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 94
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 93

The Eagle and the Wolves is the gripping fourth novel in Simon Scarrow's best-selling Eagles of the Empire series. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell. It's AD 44, and Vespasian and the Second Legion are forging ahead in their campaign to seize the southwest of Britain. Macro and newly appointed centurion Cato are ordered to provide Verica, ruler of the Atrebatans, with an army.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • great Story, great narration

  • By TheToal on 04-17-18

Cato and Macro are in trouble again

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-24-18

I bought the first book in this series, Under The Eagle, out of curiosity. I have had a continuing interest in Ancient Rome and I enjoy a good historical novel, so I thought I would give it a chance. I enjoyed it, but not so much that I went out and bought the next book in the series right away. After about 6 months I decided to listen to the next book available in the series (book 3 as book 2 is not available) and thoroughly enjoyed that. The books were getting better, or I was getting more interested in the main characters of the novels, or both.

Book 4 was better yet. Cato keeps growing as a character, Macro provides a good counter-point, the story of the Roman Legions in Great Britain and the fight against the Celtic rebellion led by Caratacus gives the story interest and relevancy.This book, which concerns the effort to train the local Celts as an ally to Rome, has been the best in the series so far and is full of interesting people, political intrigue, great bravery and more than a little pathos. The back story of the novel is, of course, accurate, and the entire book feels more like a history than a novel. Mr Scarrow's writing is wonderful and the narration by Jonathan Keeble is first class. There is a bit too much detail in the battle descriptions for my taste, but I can easily overlook that, given the gripping story itself.

I will buy the next book in the series much earlier than after another 6 month wait.

  • The Shroud Conspiracy

  • A Novel
  • By: John Heubusch
  • Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
  • Length: 12 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 316
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 297
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 295

Throughout his career, forensic anthropologist and outspoken atheist Dr. Jon Bondurant has investigated many religious artifacts said to be real, but he knows better. So when he is invited by the Vatican to examine the Shroud of Turin, said to be the burial cloth that covered the body of Christ, he is delighted for the opportunity to prove once and for all that the shroud is a fake.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Jurassic Park meets the deVince Code

  • By L. Carr on 04-21-17

Interesting story, interesting characters

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-20-18

The idea of a story arising from the Shroud of Turin sounded like an interesting concept. Get some experts together to examine the Shroud and create a story involving those wanting the shroud to be genuine and those wanting it to be false. Toss in a truly bizarre idea about the use of the Shroud. Great story idea, and a pretty decent implementation as well.

What made this book interesting, at least for me, was that the main characters involved all seemed like reasonable constructs. The two main protagonists were, perhaps, a bit overdrawn, the skeptic being too much of a skeptic and the believer being too much of a believer, but this is a novel and perhaps overreach is sometimes under-rated. Most of the remaining characters also seemed interesting and some of the plot devices ended up surprising me, although the ending itself seemed a bit predictable considering that this is only the first of a series of books. As I write this review the sequel is already available as a Kindle book on Amazon, although I will wait for its release on Audible.

The book started a bit slow, and there were times when I wanted to ask the characters if they really thought out their statements, and to ask where their conclusions came from. For example, at the start of the book Dr Jon Bondurant is giving a lecture to a class and lists many of the examples of false relics that exist in the wold today. Fine, but where is the logic from there to the idea that since many of those relics are false, all must be? Or that religious people are somehow blind to facts. OK. I understand he is a skeptic and an atheist, and that some atheists do believe exactly that, but he is one of the main protagonists and I would have hoped that he would be a bit more open minded.

As the book progresses it picks up and, toward the end, it is moving fairly quickly with some expected and some unexpected turns. It is impossible to say more without giving away spoilers and I always try to not do that. However I will buy the next book when it is available from Audible.

One last comment. This book is aimed at both the religious community and those who are truly agnostic. It will probably not appeal to committed atheists as the book is largely religious in nature, so they should be warned that if they buy this book they will get a good story, but might spend the entire book yelling at the characters that they are crazy.

The narration is well done, the story is intriguing and there are sufficient plot devices to keep the reader on his or her toes. If you can live with a religious-based book you might really enjoy this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Zero Hour

  • Expeditionary Force, Book 5
  • By: Craig Alanson
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 17 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 13,383
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 12,631
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,573

United Nations Special Operations Command sent an elite expeditionary force of soldiers and pilots out on a simple recon mission, and somehow along the way they sparked an alien civil war. Now the not-at-all-merry band of pirates is in desperate trouble, again. Their stolen alien starship is falling apart, thousands of light years from home. The ancient alien AI they nicknamed Skippy is apparently dead, and even if they can by some miracle revive him, he might never be the same.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • The middle sags with repetition

  • By KM on 02-14-18

Just keeps getting better and better

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-18-18

I have been reading sci-fi, on and off, since I was a young teenager and have continued to do so as an Audible member. I buy a fair amount of sci-fi, but almost never buy all of the books in a series since the plots are generally not interesting enough to hold my attention through multiple volumes. That has not been true for this series.

I bought the first book out of curiosity, and the second book because I wanted to know what happened to the characters. After that, I was completely hooked and have bought all of the main books (but not volume 3.5 as it does not concern the main characters) as soon as they were available. As the storyline progressed I had expected to get tired of the characters or, at least, of the continuous series of catastrophes, but have not. In fact I find myself increasingly drawn into the story and concerned about the future of the individuals involved, including Skippy, the alien AI who has become as much of a real character to me as any of the humans.

Even more interesting are the open background questions that have not really been addressed - why is Skippy's memory missing information about his past, why have planets been moved out of their orbits, why and how have Elder cities been destroyed and equipment ransacked, and what really happened to the Elders? I keep thinking that the series, in its own time, may continue to pry loose some of this information but suspect that it may take a lot more books for some of this to become clear.

In some ways the missing information about the Elders has been more intriguing than the individual plots themselves but, as always, it is the back and forth between Skippy and Colonel Joe that forms the backbone of the book. Mr Alanson has done an absolutely wonderful job in making the new books fresh, in changing the crises just enough to keep them from getting repetitious and in keeping my attention.

R. C. Bray's narration is a large part of why I find these books so interesting. I started reading the Kindle version of this volume and found it lacked the humor and interest of the Audible version, and I suspect that without Mr Bray's wonderful narration I would have lost interest long before now.

Now, where is book 6?

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • The Right Stuff

  • By: Tom Wolfe
  • Narrated by: Dennis Quaid
  • Length: 15 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 519
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 489
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 484

Millions of words have poured forth about man's trip to the moon, but until now few people have had a sense of the most engrossing side of the adventure: namely, what went on in the minds of the astronauts themselves - in space, on the moon, and even during certain odysseys on earth. It is this, the inner life of the astronauts, that Tom Wolfe describes with his almost uncanny empathetic powers that made The Right Stuff a classic.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Righteous Book, Righteous Narrator, Righteous MEN!

  • By Gillian on 02-08-18

Great book, well narrated

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-17-18

I first read the print version of this book shortly after it was released, and I enjoyed it so much that I have been checking Audible’s site for it regularly for perhaps the last year. When it finally showed up I grabbed it, only waiting to finish my current book before I started listening. It was a long wait for this book to get to Audible, but it was worth it.

Mr Wolfe does an amazing job in so many ways in this book. His description of the environment of the test pilot shortly after the end of World War II is excellent and his description of Chuck Yeager and his influence on the pilot community is nothing less than wonderful. He then goes on to describe the competing efforts to get the US into space, the X-15 and X-20 Dyna-Soar projects as well as the Mercury effort. Those who have seen the movie version of the book will recognize much as the movie hewed fairly closely to the book, but Mr Wolfe’s writing is so good that the book is far superior. The importance of this book to the history of manned space flight is so great that Mr Wolfe’s description of the astronauts as being “single combat warriors” survives to this day and can be found in much of the popular history of that period.

The Right Stuff touches all of the important parts of the US effort to get into space - the backgrounds of the astronauts, their families and family life, the competition between them, the competition between the test pilots and the astronauts, the political basis for the manned space effort, the awe that the astronauts were held in, their efforts to get to the top of the test pilot “pyramid” and how the entire space effort changed the test pilot world. Like the movie, the book is both serious and full of humor and tells a story that is both highly entertaining and incredibly serious. For those who were not alive during the 1950s and 1960s it may be hard to understand how the entire space effort, and the Mercury Program specifically, held the public attention, how people stopped what they were doing and sat for hours in front of the TV during Mercury launches and how people listened to their radios for news on the return of the astronauts from their trips into space, but the book makes all of those events clear and describes the feelings of the general public. The comparison with today’s view of astronauts as just being another type of pilot is striking.

This is simply a wonderful book, full of information, that captures the feeling of the time and presents it, full of both the humor and deadly seriousness. The writing and the narration are so good that the reader can feel and understand the experience, even if not alive during the actual events. While the book covers all of the events surrounding the Mercury program it never loses sight of the astronauts themselves, nor of their families.

Dennis Quaid narrates the book and, since he portrayed the astronaut Gordon Cooper in the movie, that seems appropriate. He does an excellent job. Simply a first class book narrated in a first class manner, worthy of 5 stars.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful