Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.
I enjoyed this book a lot, but I also majored in math and know what a Riemann Zeta function is. A background in computer science and a knowledge of cryptography helps as well. I'm sure you can enjoy this book without knowing this stuff, there are just a lot of references with these you'll miss and you might find some of the content tedious. My mom gave up on the book.
The book takes place in two time periods: WWII and the 1999s. It gives the reader an enjoyable history lesson laced with humor and sarcasm, for example: "Patton had the bad taste to capture Messina before Montgomery, who had been planning to be there first". .
The book is not a casual read and ion the end I went back and reread much of it to really appreciate and grasp what was going on.
The book was performed well. The reader did a great job with a huge variety of characters and accents. Overall, I was happy I made the effort to go through the book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
In late 2003, in his column in Entertainment Weekly, Stephen King called The Memory of Running "the best novel you won't read this year." This glowing endorsement of the audiobook resulted in Ron McLarty receiving a $2 million two-book deal from Viking Penguin. Also, Warner Brothers has shelled out big bucks for the movie rights to The Memory of Running, for which McLarty will write the script.
This phrase constantly ran through my mind as I forced myself to finish, "The Memory of Running". Based on the glowing reviews this book received, I felt I surely had to be missing something! Alas, something was missing and that was characters that you could care about and a plot that had a purpose. After investing hours listening to this book, I was left with the distinct feeling that this was a classic case of "The Emperor's New Clothes." With the first reviewer quoting Stephen King's review, it would appear that others felt compelled to agree and expound further on the nonexistent virtues of this novel. Definitely wished I could get a refund on this one!
5 of 8 people found this review helpful
The first in a mesmerizing four-book original series, Prodigal Son is a brilliant re-imagining and updating of the classic Frankenstein story that only Dean Koontz could conceive. Two hundred years old, the "monster", Deucalion, is a monster no more. Literate and intelligent, he arrives in modern-day New Orleans, where he will join forces with a street-smart police detective and her partner on the trail of a macabre serial killer.
This book was an enjoyable, up to date version of the Frankenstein tale. The modern Frankenstein monster was an enigmatic, yet very intelligent creature. There were some interesting twist on the old tale that bring it into the 21st century.
I was disappointed that the end of the book wasn't the end of the story. Further, from reading the comments on the second book, it seems as though if you're going to start this, then you better be prepared for at least a 3rd novel and you'll need the patience of enduring a 2nd novel that has fair amount of repetition and not a lot of closure. Read the reviews of book 2 before diving into this series.
The book is, in itself, a good book, but I'm frustrated that this is going to drag on for at least 3 novels.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
Behind the gates of a fabulous Hampton estate, FBI Special Agent Pendergast discovers the carnage of a gruesome crime, a nightmare of seemingly supernatural origin. The smoldering remains of infamous art critic Jeremy Grove, a melted cross branding his chest, are found in a locked, barricaded attic. The hoofprint singed into the floorboards and the smell of brimstone recall the legendary horrors that befall those who make a pact with the Devil.
This was a long awaited return of Agent Pendergast, the quintessential, mysterious, detective who has all the right facts and skills at just the right time. What makes these novels so fun is that in the beginning the crime seems to have a supernatural explanation. Slowly through the novel Pendergast reveals the crime to be from natural world.
Perhaps I was cursed with a flash of insight, I figured out the supernatural aspect of the story right away and it diminished the fun I had reading it. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the character of Pendergast and the return of Vincent D'Agosta and Laura Hayward. You do learn some more about Pendergast (which is always fun), but there are some loose ends left when your done, not the least of which is at the ending. It really seemed as if the book was laying the foundations for future adventures as opposed to being a nice self-contained novel like in his previous adventures.
Since I cannot give a 3.5, I'll give it a 4 on the theory that you'll enjoy it a lot if you don't figure it out early.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
Acclaimed author Alan Furst has written several historical fiction novels. In Dark Star, Andre Szara, a Polish journalist who becomes a spy for the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, is ordered to complete many tasks of espionage in Paris. Through Szara's character, the beginnings of World War II are revealed. George Guidall's gripping narration complements this suspenseful tale.
I really enjoyed this book. It?s a story of espionage set in pre -WII Europe. Although its a work of fiction, the story is filled with accurate and detailed historical facts. In this sense, it reminded me of a good James Michner novel.
If I could have, I would have given the story a 4.5 star rating. There are a lot of details in it and it is NOT a book you can casually listen to. What makes it more challenging is the abundance of Polish, German, and Russian names and places? I had to listen to parts of the book a couple times to make sure I of my facts.
At times, the book may seem to lack direction, but things are tied together nicely near the end. The narrator is excellent and I?ll look for more by both the author and the narrator.
27 of 28 people found this review helpful
A History of Greece is the thrilling story of the rise to power and influence of the greatest civilization the world has ever known. As Cyril Robinson's exquisite narrative unfolds, we find ourselves plunged into mankind's greatest and most magnificent adventure. Also, listen to A History of Greece, Volume 2.
To get the most of this book, you need to have a good map of Ancient Greece and the territory surrounding the Aegean Sea. Keep it handy. Also, it will be helpful to understand what the Isthmus and Acropolis are, look them up before hand.
The narrator was the same as in the book "Hannibal, One Man Against Rome" and he was so good I followed him to this book. I was NOT disappointed. The book started out slow and it wasn't until chapter 5 that I really took interest. It was amazing that, despite all the wars that were fought between their city-states like Athens and Sparta, Greece gave rise to experiments in democracy and serious philosophical and scientific inquiry.
The level of detail in this book can make it hard on the history novice. Despite that, someone new to Greek history can gain a lot by reading this book.
20 of 20 people found this review helpful
This landmark book is for those of us who prefer words to equations; this is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge, the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space. Its author, Stephen W. Hawking, is arguably the greatest mind since Einstein. From the vantage point of the wheelchair, where he has spent the last 20 years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Professor Hawking has transformed our view of the universe. A Brief History of Time is Hawking's classic introduction to today's most important scientific ideas.
I really enjoyed this book. It helped me better understand many of the great advances in physics, astronomy, and cosmology of the 20th century. The narration was great and included a couple jokes and personal notes about/from the author that lent a human touch to the subject.
As good as the book is, I think it would be a real struggle for those who don?t already have a familiarity with some of the topics. Further, because of the books age some of the ideas are out of date (e.g. the latest evidence is that the universe is not only expanding, but doing so at an ever increasing rate). Nonetheless, the book is worth reading and re-reading (as I?ll do).
55 of 57 people found this review helpful
While in Paris on business, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night phone call. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, a baffling cipher found near the body. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, sort through the bizarre riddle, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Da Vinci, clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.
I think this book can be enjoyable if you remember its fiction, not fact. It does dance through some interesting topics in church history such as the Knights Templar and the Priory of Sion - not to mention Da Vinci. Keep a copy of Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" at hand, it will help.
Be forewarned that the book will seem blasphemous to many Christians. (Christ is married to Mary Magdeline). Also beware that the narrator seemed to learn what a French accent is by watching old Pink Panther cartoons - at times he was hard on the ears. Finally, the "flashes of insight" the characters have are from out of the blue and prevent the "reader" from trying to solve things for him/herselve.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
In lower Manhattan, a charnel pit of horror is uncovered: the remains of 36 people murdered and gruesomely dismembered over 130 years ago by an unknown serial killer. Just as a museum archaeologist and an enigmatic FBI agent begin to unravel the clues to the killings, a fresh spree of copy-cat murders and surgical mutilation erupts around them. Mixing science and terror in a way only they can, Preston and Child deliver a novel that's as gruesome as it is enthralling.
Cabinet of Curiosities were a real part of the 19th century, before museums were common. In and around the history of these a cerial murder takes place and the distant past and the present are blended together in a unique murder-mystery.
A very enigmatic, modern day Sherlock-Holmes, Special Agent Pendergast, with the help of archeolgist Nora Kelly, work together unraveling the past to solve the present.
The book is as well crafted as it is narrated. I'll look for more by the authors and the narrator. The only criticism might be that Nora Kelly goes along with the mysterious Agent Pendergast a bit too easily, but overall the book still gets 5 stars.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
Skillfully weaving history with mystery, Philip Kerr sets this thrilling story in the 1696 Tower of London, where Sir Isaac Newton, warden of the Royal Mint (a post he actually held), and his apprentice Christopher Ellis (also a real person) track down a counterfeiting ring and, as the body count increases, a murderer. "An illuminating, often crackling exploration into the mysteries of science, mathematics, religion, and human nature," raves Booklist in a starred review.
The story takes place in late 17th century London during the part of Newton's career spent at the Royal Mint. Christopher Ellis is sent to assist Dr. Isaac Newton in his investigations of counterfitters whose operations threaten to bring down a war-weakened economy of England.
The pair of Ellis and Newton almost seem like Holmes and Watson as the book tours through religious history and prejudices to catch the couterfitters who are committing murder in the Tower of London. The author presents a detailed look at what Isaac Newton might have been like while combining this profile within mystery and history set in this novel that is ripe with the names of Newton's famous contemporaries.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was meticulously researched to the point that I had a hard time telling where the fiction began and reality ended. As a nice finishing touch, the book has a light sprinkling of humor in it which will catch you by surprise and leave you delighted.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful