Drawing on new research, including the diaries, memoirs, and personal letters of both Lenin and his friends, Victor Sebestyen's unique biography - the first in English in nearly two decades - is not only a political examination of one of the most important historical figures of the 20th century but a portrait of Lenin the man. Unexpectedly, Lenin was someone who loved nature, hunting, and fishing and could identify hundreds of species of plants, a despotic ruler whose closest ties and friendships were with women.
This is an excellent bio of Vladimir Lenin, one of the key figures of the twentieth century. Lenin was a fascinating figure, who succeeded against incredible odds in creating the first Communist nation the world had ever known. Lenin’s entire adult life was unwaveringly focused by his rigid ideology and personal sense of historical destiny. As a virtual dictator in Russia in following the 1917 revolution, he could be ruthless and murderous. Yet Lenin was occasionally capable of compassion and even possessed a sense of humor of sorts. The author does a fine job of fleshing out Lenin as a person, as well as a historical figure. The book provides a closeup view of the Russian Revolution, the left-wing revolutionaries who made it happen, and the chaotic early days of the Soviet Union. We also learn of Lenin’s relationships with those closest to him, including his comrades, his mistress, his wife, and his mother, as well as Lenin’s hobbies and interests. The Berlin Wall has fallen and only a handful of Communist still remain in the world. Yet Lenin still seems like a modern individual, and his ideas about economics and class conflict remain germane to the controversies of the present day. The narrator does a very good job, adding drama where called for and providing different voices for the historical figures who are quoted from time to time. Highly recommended.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
How different would the world have looked had the Nazis been the first to build an atomic bomb? Werner Heisenberg, one of Hitler's lead nuclear scientists, famously and mysteriously met in Copenhagen with his colleague and mentor, Niels Bohr, one of the founders of the Manhattan Project. Michael Frayn's Tony Award-winning drama imagines their reunion. Joined by Niels' wife, Margrethe, these three brilliant minds converge for an encounter of atomic proportions.
This LA Theatre Works performance concerns three characters: the eminent Danish physicist Niels Bohr, his wife Margrethe, and the German physicist Werner Heisenberg (famous for his Quantum Uncertainty Principle). Shortly after Nazi Germany has conquered Denmark, Heisenberg travels from Germany to pay a visit to Bohr, his former mentor and teacher. Heisenberg's motives for the visit are unclear -- possibly to obtain Bohr's advice on how to build an atomic bomb, to warn the Jewish Bohr of the coming Nazi threat to his safety, to somehow tip off the Allies to Germany's ongoing atomic weapon research . . . or maybe something else. The themes presented are highly intelligent and thought provoking, raising unresolved questions of personal loyalty, scientific ethics and limits of personal courage when living in nations controlled by dark totalitarian forces. The play focuses on the tensions, mysteries and personal dynamics of this historically important visit. Many important ethical questions are raised and left unresolved for the listener to ponder afterwards. What are the ethical obligations of scientists during wartime when the stakes are as high as they were during World War II? The acting, dialogue and production values are first rate. Highly recommended!
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
For 1,000 years, mankind has lived under the threat of invasion from an alien race. After the oceans rose and the continents were reshaped, people divided into guilds - Musicians, Scribes, Merchants, Clowns, and more. The Watchers wander the Earth, scouring the skies for signs of enemies from the stars. But during one Watcher's journey to the ancient city of Roum with his companion, a Flier named Avluela, a moment of distraction allows the invaders to advance. When the Watcher finally sounds the alarm, it's too late: the star people are poised to conquer all.
This book started out as a series of three novellas by sci-fi master Robert Silverberg: Nightwings, Perris Way and To Jorslem. The Nightwings novella (now Part 1) is an outstanding work, which deservedly won the Hugo Award for Best Novella in 1969. Silverberg subsequently made some minor revisions and combined the Nightwings novella and its two sequels into the present book, also entitled Nightwings. The story begins on an Earth which suffers from environmental devastation and the aftermath of alien domination. Earth has been reduced to a fragmented and demoralized society, populated by various guilds, such as the Defenders (soldiers), Dominators (rulers), etc. The main character, Tomis, is a member of the Watchers Guild. He wanders about with a cart of instruments which he employs on a daily basis, monitoring the skies so that he can alert the Defenders when and if a new alien invasion materializes. Tomis is accompanied by Avluela, a fairy-like member of the Fliers Guild, and, Gormon, a deformed guild-less outcast. Together, the three companions arrive at the feudal city-state of Roum (formerly Rome) where Avluela attracts the lustful fancy of the decadent Prince of Roum. Part 1 ("Nightwings") is a masterpiece of dark mood, exotic characters and intriguing plot set in a post-apocalyptical Earth. Part 2 (“Among the Rememberers”) holds its own, but the quality falters in the final third (“The Road to Jorslem”) -- perhaps an example of an author stretching a great idea into one sequel too many. Still, Part 1 ("Nightwings"), which won the Hugo Award in slightly modified form, is well worth the price of admission and highly recommended on its own right.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
On the edge of a war-weary and devastated galaxy, charismatic Lewis Orne has landed on Hamal. His assignment: To detect any signs of latent aggression in this planet's population. To his astonishment, he finds that his own latent extrasensory powers have suddenly blossomed, and he is invited to join the company of "gods" on this planet - and the people here place certain expectations on their gods.
Readers hoping for something approaching the richness and excellence of Frank Herbert's Dune masterpiece will find The Godmakers disappointing. The Godmakers consists of four closely connected short stories concerning Lewis Orne, an agent of the Investigative Adjustment (AI) organization. Similar to the Bene Gesserit in the Dune Universe, the AI employs made-up religious doctrine and applied sociology to neutralize threats posed by potentially warlike planetary societies. Also like the Bene Gesserit, AI agents possess extrasensory psychic powers and prescience which they employ to manipulate individuals and societies to their ends. Unfortunately, the stories in this book are not that interesting. The characters are one dimensional and spend entirely too much of their time pontificating at each other. One cannot fault the generally excellent narrator Scott Brick, who does the best he can with what he has to work with, for the failure of this book to engage the reader.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
In a Los Angeles that is something like ours - but in which magic has become an integral part of society - P.I. Turner Cronyn and a beautiful woman named Astraea Scales investigate the theft of Big Al (the Triton)'s conch shell horn, which not only plays beautiful music at the Triton Club, but also has magical properties that could inundate greater L.A. And the villain appears to be the last of the surviving race of Sirens (of Circe fame), who still wants revenge on the Greek hero Jason!
This is a fun-filled detective romp through a noirish Los Angeles. The story takes place in a quirky environment populated with Sirens and others from Greek mythology. An enjoyable read!
In the middle of the 12th Century an unknown Christian sect emerged in southern France. They claimed to be the sole successors of the original Church of Jesus Christ. They called themselves Cathars. Despite their sincere belief, the Cathars were deemed by the Roman Church to oppose several of their fundamental principles of Christianity. Because of these unorthodox practices the Cathars were outlawed by the Church of Rome, and sentenced to a merciless extinction.
This is the story of the Cathars, a heretical sect which arose in parts of France and neighboring countries during the 12th Century. It's a fascinating and little known chapter in history which sheds much light on life and religion in medieval times. The Cathars, who claimed to be the sole practitioners of the true Christianity, as Jesus proclaimed it, were a strange lot. They did not believe in sex, owning property or eating meat or dairy. They probably would have died out of their own accord in a century or so, but the Catholic Church of its day was certainly not going to wait around for that to happen. In 1209 the Pope in Rome launched the Albigensian Crusade with the goal of converting or wiping out the Cathars and all other heretics in Southern France. This is an informative and entertaining book, written in a somewhat informal style which differs from the approach which might be taken by a professional academic historian. For example, the author imagines the thoughts of various historical figures and probably takes some liberties with the dialogue attributed to them. My one major criticism is that I thought a bit more detail was needed in places, particularly in recalling the Siege of Montsegur which amounted to the last stand of the Cathar faith. The book is enthusiastically and clearly read by the author.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Delmak-O is a dangerous planet. Though there are only 14 citizens, no one can trust anyone else and death can strike at any moment. The planet is vast and largely unexplored, populated mostly by gelatinous cube-shaped beings that give cryptic advice in the form of anagrams. Deities can be spoken to directly via a series of prayer amplifiers and transmitters, but they may not be happy about it. And the mysterious building in the distance draws all the colonists to it, but when they get there each sees a different motto on the front.
Welcome to planet Delmak-O where danger and confusion lurk
behind every corner and reality is constantly shifting out from under you! Science Fiction Grand Master Philip K. Dick guides you on a surreal trip down the rabbit hole as 14 eccentric characters find themselves the sole colonists assigned to a fledgling outpost on Delmak-O, a strange and hostile planet inhabited by mechanical bugs, gelatinous tenches that answer questions based on the I Ching, and a sinister building which appears different to everyone who approaches. Offbeat god-figures manifest at various times to help and advise to the settlers. Death stalks the colonists as one by one they are killed off by each other or mysterious unknown forces. By way of a forward to the book, PKD acknowledges that this work found inspiration in LSD experiments and his interest in Eastern religion. This is an enjoyable listen for those who appreciate science fiction which explores metaphysical and surreal themes. The narrator does a good job with the various voices, male and female alike.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume in the trilogy, tells of the fateful power of the One Ring. It begins a magnificent tale of adventure that will plunge the members of the Fellowship of the Ring into a perilous quest and set the stage for the ultimate clash between the powers of good and evil.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a truly wonderful story and it remains fresh and exciting even if you've read it once or twice before. Rob Inglis does a great job with all the voices and singing all of Tolkien's delightful songs. The magic is all there and more! Highly recommended!
From the streets of Iraq to the mountaintops of Afghanistan and to the third floor of Osama Bin Laden's compound, operator Mark Owen of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group - commonly known as SEAL Team Six - has been a part of some of the most memorable special operations in history, as well as countless missions that never made headlines. No Easy Day puts listeners alongside Owen and the other handpicked members of the 24-man team as they train for the biggest mission of their lives.
If newspaper journalists provide us with the "first draft of history," then "Mark Owen" (a pseudonym) has provided us with history's raw ingredients, the unadorned and unedited account of an important event. Owens doesn't reflect on the politics of the wars he fights or the philosophical implications of his job as a deadly 21st Century super-warrior. Much of the book is filled with the mundane details of his trade: the equipment he wears, his sleep cycle, the importance of emptying his bladder before a mission, the sit-ups and pull-ups he struggled to do to qualify for the SEAL program. He is not an introspective kind of guy and he doesn't describe his work in glamorous or romantic prose. But there are two things that make this book worthwhile. First, there are the Obama-era rules of engagement for the Afghan War which render SEAL and other military operations less effective then before in eliminating the enemy and which expose our own soldiers to much more personal risk then previously. Second, of course, is Owen's personal account of the Osama bin Laden raid. US government officials have questioned the accuracy of Owen's account of how the bin Laden killing went down, but for my money Owen's account rings true because it is more morally ambiguous and less glamorous then the official version and raises the question of whether bin Laden could have been captured and flown away without any real risk to the SEAL team. There's not much about politics here and it's clear that the CIA effort to locate and kill or capture bin Laden proceeded seriously and unabated from September 2001 onward and just happened to gel when it did in 2011. President Obama makes an appearance at the end of the book to watch the takedown by video in Washington and, of course, take credit for the raid which would have taken place when it did regardless of who won the 2008 presidential election. The narration is first rate. Recommended.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Greg Wise reads Pierre Boulle's chilling, iconic novel about a nightmare world where apes rule over men. In a spaceship that can travel at the speed of light, Ulysse, a journalist, sets off from Earth for the nearest solar system. He finds there a planet which resembles his own, except that on Soror humans behave like animals and are hunted by a civilised race of primates.
Even if you're very familiar with the classic 1968 Charlton Heston movie, there are a few surprises and plot twists here that make this an interesting and exciting listen. The main character is Ulysse, a French journalist who journeys with two other intrepid astronauts to the distant star, Betelgeuse, where they, of course, come upon the Planet of the Apes, inhabited by primitive humans and technologically advanced chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. The themes are somewhat different from those of the movie, but this is a well written and exciting book with a tightly-constructed plot, which also raises interesting questions about the ethics of animal research and social behaviors which can bring about the death of a civilization. Well narrated.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful