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  • 27
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  • The Razor's Edge

  • By: W. Somerset Maugham
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 261
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 240
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 237

The Great War changed everything and everyone, and Larry Darrell is no exception. Though his physical wounds from the war heal, his spirit is changed almost beyond recognition. He leaves his betrothed, the beautiful and devoted Isabel; studies philosophy and religion in Paris; lives as a monk, and witnesses the exotic hardships of Spanish life. All of life that he can find - from an Indian Ashrama to labor in a coal mine - becomes Larry's spiritual experiment as he spurns the comfort and privilege of the Roaring 20s.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant and easy to read

  • By Winnie on 08-04-16

Good performance can't save this story

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

Reviewed: 07-05-18

I bought this book because I enjoyed Maugham's "Painted Veil". This is a very different book. The story is long and dull, and eventually goes completely off the rails. Maugham's editor must have gone on vacation. The performance is excellent, but can't save a bad book.

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany

  • By: John Irving
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 26 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,565
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,181
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,188

Of all of John Irving's books, this is the one that lends itself best to audio. In print, Owen Meany's dialogue is set in capital letters; for this production, Irving himself selected Joe Barrett to deliver Meany's difficult voice as intended. In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys – best friends – are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary and terrifying.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Painfully nostalgic

  • By Barry on 07-29-15

You won't get this book out of your head

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

Reviewed: 11-28-16

I listened to this book eight or nine months ago. Images from the story keep popping into my head. Haunting, and a riveting listen. I believe it's the best Vietnam-era book I've listened to (without being directly about the war). Unforgettable. And a fantastic narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Do No Harm

  • Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery
  • By: Henry Marsh
  • Narrated by: Jim Barclay
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,112
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,029
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,026

With compassion and candor, leading neurosurgeon Henry Marsh reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets, and the moments of black humor that characterize a brain surgeon's life. If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft, practiced by calm and detached surgeons, this gripping, brutally honest account will make you think again.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Neurosurgical struggles between hope & reality

  • By Bonny on 06-03-15

Riveting

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

Reviewed: 11-21-16

Listened to the book after hearing Terry Gross Fresh Air interview with the author. Highly engaging and wonderfully literate. Particularly good performance. Expect to be a bit depressed (it IS about brain surgery).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Berlin Diary

  • The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934–1941
  • By: William L. Shirer
  • Narrated by: Tom Weiner
  • Length: 15 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 483
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 435
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 426

By the acclaimed journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, this day-by-day eyewitness account of the momentous events leading up to World War II in Europe is the private, personal, utterly revealing journal of a great foreign correspondent.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Real Rise and Fall

  • By Robert on 02-26-14

The Real Rise and Fall

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

Reviewed: 02-26-14

If you found "Rise and Fall" to be a gripping book, as I did, then I think you will find "Berlin Diaries" to be a wonderful listen. Here you learn all the thoughts of a witness to an amazing place and time. Particularly striking is the insanity of what Shirer is and is not allowed to report. The world was turned upside-down and Shirer tells you about it as if you were having a drink at the press club. Wonderful insights into easy things that the British might have done better... for example, bombing doesn't need to be massive to be effective, Shirer explains that even small bombings during the night in Berlin have the effect of keeping everyone awake and dramatically affecting war production, not to mention jangling nerves. You see Shirer becoming more and more cynical as the war begins to go badly and his access to real news vs. propaganda is limited. The book leaves you wanting to learn a lot more about his wife Tess who seems like a very interesting character in her own right. Shirer explains so clearly successes of the Third Reich early in the war; you understand what it means to build a war machine, to consider all the technical details, to keep all your aircraft hidden a short distance from the airfields so that the bombing of an airfield produces limited damage. Shirer explains Hitler's misperception of British attitudes. I found the book truly fascinating.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Peony

  • A Novel of China
  • By: Pearl S. Buck
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
  • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 275
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 230
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 231

Young Peony is sold into a rich Chinese household as a bondmaid - an awkward role in which she is more a servant, but less a daughter. As she grows into a lovely, provocative young woman, Peony falls in love with the family's only son. However, tradition forbids them to wed. How she resolves her love for him and her devotion to her adoptive family unfolds in this profound tale, based on true events in China over a century ago.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable Book

  • By alison on 02-17-15

A Fascinating Chapter in Jewish - Chinese History

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

Reviewed: 09-01-13

This novel is perhaps not as strong as The Good Earth or Pavilion of Women but the story chronicles a fascinating chapter in both Jewish and Chinese history; the final years of a distinct Jewish presence in Kaifeng. A warning; some Jews may be offended by Buck's views on why Jews have been historically persecuted. The book includes a wonderfully informative epilogue by a scholar of Sino-Judaica which provides a historical context for the novel. It affirms the accuracy of much of what Buck writes and points out specific places where Buck has taken literary license. For Buck fans, like me, you will want to listen, and for those who want to learn more about the Jewish culture in China, you will also want to listen. For centuries, China was a safe haven for Jews who came to China via the silk road. In the years leading up to the Holocaust, Shanghai welcomed Jews when countries around the world denied them entry.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Dragon Seed

  • By: Pearl S Buck
  • Narrated by: Adam Verner
  • Length: 14 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 74

To the Chinese the dragon is not an evil creature, but is a god and the friend of men who worship him. He "holds in his power prosperity and peace." Ruling the waters and the winds, he sends the good rain, is hence the symbol of fecundity. In the Hsia dynasty two dragons fought a great duel until both disappeared, leaving only a fertile foam from which were born the descendants of the Hsia. Thus, the dragons came to be looked upon as the ancestors of a race of heroes. This is the story of China at War.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • More Relevant Today than Ever

  • By Robert on 07-29-13

More Relevant Today than Ever

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

Reviewed: 07-29-13

This book has very much the feeling of The Good Earth (first book of the Good Earth trilogy) but set in the period of World War II. It describes how a family in the countryside deals with the tragedy and upheaval of the Japanese occupation of eastern China. Buck delivers stylized language that perfectly captures the feeling of Chinese speech and culture. For example, when the eldest son finds a Chinese woman rather than a Japanese man in the trap he has set, his first question after he pulls her out is "have you eaten?". This will ring true to anyone who has visited China. Buck is a treasure, perhaps an undervalued treasure. How many American writers grew up in China, living among relatively poor people, speaking as a native, and later writing in English. In spite of winning the Nobel prize, she does not get the recognition she deserves. A style every bit as strong as Hemingway and perhaps more substance and political awareness.

The book is so relevant today, when China is the country that America loves to hate and when Japan is looking at re-interpreting its constitution to allow the development of a military. This book will remind Western readers that China was ravaged by Japan (after having been ravaged by Britain). It was interesting to learn that Japan, like Britain, used opium as a tool to destroy China. A wonderful story and a good performance by the narrator.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • The Garden of Evening Mists

  • By: Tan Twan Eng
  • Narrated by: Anna Bentinck
  • Length: 15 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 481
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 432
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 434

Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The best

  • By Susan Gardner Bowers on 03-11-13

An artfully told tale, beautifully narrated

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

Reviewed: 07-20-13

What did you love best about The Garden of Evening Mists?

Interestingly, what I loved best is the performance. The author gives us characters from a variety of countries speaking English in distinctive accents. Ms. Bentinck's performance brings these voices to life so beautifully that, at times, you find yourself not caring so much about the slowly unfolding story as you are captivated by the sound of the characters. And while the story does build slowly, it builds very surely. The author has you firmly in his grip.

What did you like best about this story?

It is a gripping story filled with moral ambiguities and interesting surprises. It is beautifully constructed, like the artwork described within the story. The author uses language in many beautiful ways.

Any additional comments?

Just beautiful; a great read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • House to House

  • An Epic Memoir of War
  • By: Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, John Bruning
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,224
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 973
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 973

In one of the most compelling combat narratives ever written, Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, an Army infantry platoon leader in Iraq, gives a teeth-rattling, first-hand account of 11 straight days of heavy house-to-house fighting during the climactic second battle of Fallujah. His actions in the firefight, which included killing five insurgents in hand-to-hand combat, earned Bellavia the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and New York state's highest military honor, the Conspicuous Service Cross.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • As raw as it gets

  • By Robert on 09-24-07

Simply an Awful Book

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-05-13

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Clearly, most Audible listeners would enjoy it more as the book got good reviews.

What was most disappointing about Staff Sergeant David Bellavia and John Bruning ’s story?

Much of the book is dialog on speed; constantly frantic; very difficult to listen to. I have to accept that people spoke like this in the Iraq deployment since I wasn't there. To me, it sounds like the ravings of adolescents who have overdosed on steroids. I was not at all persuaded that this is the bearing of a skilled and professional soldier. Given that the US infantry was outfitted with night vision glasses, multiparty communications, and the most modern weapons systems, it appears they made a lot of mistakes; perhaps some due to raging egos. The sergeant constantly demonstrated an 'attitude' towards officers. He sounded downright insubordinate. In his own descriptions he appears mentally unstable. Again, I wasn't there, but it seems unlikely that the results would warrant keeping a person like this in a sensitive position in the military (fighting house-to-house).

The book seems to assume that readers would agree that Iraq was a just war fought for the Iraqis. The writer appears committed to the importance of the the US involvement in Iraq, but there should be at least some mention of the widely held belief that the war was sparked by government claims of WMDs.

By the time I reached the end of the book (the epilogue is interminable), I wanted to wash my hands to cleanse myself of the awful way in which this man treated his family. If you are a fan of intelligent non-fiction about war, try William Shirer, Rick Atkinson, or Cornelius Ryan, not this poorly written book which sounds like an action movie without video.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Water for Elephants

  • By: Sara Gruen
  • Narrated by: David LeDoux, John Randolph Jones
  • Length: 11 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19,847
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,733
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,812

Why we think it’s a great listen: Some books are meant to be read; others are meant to be heard – Water for Elephants falls into the second group, and is one of the best examples we have of how a powerful performance enhances a great story. Nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski reflects back on his wild and wondrous days with a circus. It's the Depression Era and Jacob, finding himself parentless and penniless, joins the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Surprisingly Bland

  • By Heather on 01-25-11

Channeling Franklin W. Dixon

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-31-10

Imagine, for a moment that the author of the Hardy Boys chose another pen name and wrote a book about a young man who joins the circus and finds true love. Although I did manage to finish the book (I wouldn't make that choice again), I am surprised by the high ratings this title has received. Be warned; I'm hanging the red lantern on this circus train. The protagonist does everything but say 'aw shucks'. He is practically forced into sex by women who unzip him, thus escaping all responsibility. And the writing includes such gems as "solid as an oblisk; viscous as water". Viscous as water? Given the ratings, there must be a good audience for this kind of book.... but I'm not it.

20 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Stamboul Train

  • By: Graham Greene
  • Narrated by: Michael Maloney
  • Length: 7 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 142
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 70
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 69

Aboard the Orient Express as it heads across Europe towards Constantinople, a relationship develops between Carleton Myatt and Coral Musker, a naive English chorus girl. Around them a web of espionage, murder and lies twist in this spy thriller.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Poignance and Power on the Orient Express

  • By Darwin8u on 07-10-12

Not Exactly a Whodunit

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-26-10

I love reading (listening to) Greene. This is not really a 'spy thriller' as suggested by the "Publisher's Summary". It is a story about characters ranged on a spectrum of moral ambiguity; how they think and behave; and the consequences. The mystery is trying to guess where on the spectrum each character lies. Greene ties all strands as expected, but not, I think, as the reader might have chosen.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful