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C. F Fulbright

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Silva Must Wish He Could Take This One Back

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

Reviewed: 09-21-17

Any additional comments?

"The Mark of the Assassin" was terrible. Having read/listened over the past year to the 17 Gabriel Allon books by Daniel Silva, I was shocked by how bad this book is. It reads like a first book written by a reporter who's decided to change careers. Clearly Silva raised his game before he got to the Allon series.

SPOILER ALERT
The dialogue between the hero and his wife is whiny. The sex scenes are embarrassing - and unnecessary. The plot contrivances are unbelievable. And the main plot element - that CEO of a major US weapons manufacturer and senior leaders of several foreign spy agencies, including Mossad ops chief Ari Shamron belong to a secret criminal organization like SPECTRE in the James Bond series - made me think of the silly Austin Powers movies.

The wife shooting the Red Army Faction woman with a bow-and-arrow was telegraphed from the very beginning of the book when you hear she's a crack archer. And the killing itself reminded me of Glenn Close getting killed at the end of "Fatal Attraction".

Silva also burned a number of the characters in his later Gabrield Allon series. As mentioned, Ari Shamron is a bad guy. Adrian Carter is weak. Mike Harari rather than Gabriel Allon killed most of the PLO terrorists during Operation Wrath of God. At least Graham Seymour comes off as a good guy. But you wonder why Silva used these same names for the Gabriel Allon series, when he'd used them here for essentially different characters.

At times I felt like the book made me lose respect for Daniel Silva despite the uniform excellence of his later Gabriel Allon books.

I listened to the book on Audible. The reader, Christopher Lane, makes the book even worse than it probably is in the print edition. Perhaps Lane's reading is what made the hero's wife so whiny, but I think Silva's writing also is responsible for that. All of his foreign accents sound like a bad Jamaican imitation.

If I were Daniel Silva, I would wish I'd never written this book, and re-issue it under a pseudonym.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Not The Three Novellas Promised

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

Reviewed: 12-31-14

Any additional comments?

The title page for this listing says "Three Novellas", which suggests that it includes all three shorty stories from the printed book. But my download only included "The Sea Witch". The fact that the next most popular downloads for this listing are the other other short stories included in the book indicates that other people are running into this problem. I hope they didn't pay extra for getting what they should have gotten in the original download.

Brilliant Book and Great Reader

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

Reviewed: 11-24-14

Any additional comments?

The Martian is a tour-de-force. It grabs you from the very first sentence and immerses you in Mark Watney’s struggle to stay alive and get home.

Alex Weir has a dry sense of humor, which he projects onto Watney. Watney’s log entries alternate between detailed technical explanations of what he’s doing, to short and funny one-liners, and other ironic or sarcastic comments. One of my favorite was his response to NASA telling them that the supply probe they’re sending him is named after the god of rainbows. “Gay probe coming to save me. Got it.” Or, “Venkat, do you believe in God?” “Sure, lots of them. I’m Hindu.”

I listened to the Audible recording, and the reader’s delivery really enhanced the book. He captured Watney’s dead-pan delivery, Kapur’s irratibleness, and Vogel’s German literalness and deference to authority and rules.

I bought a hardcover copy to give to my best friend, and am going to force my college son to listen to it over the holidays.

Highly recommended.

Quirky with Little Substance, and Bizarre Accients

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

Reviewed: 05-05-14

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

In general I would not recommend it. This is a quirky book, quite unlike other of Niall Ferguson's efforts. He relies on the anecdotal, "I talked to a man in the streets of Istanbul..." approach of Thomas Friedman, with similar superficial impact. He devotes at least half of chapters on Science, Property, and Medicine, to discussions of various wars between West and the rest. He makes some novel and interesting observations, but they are not presented in a logical flow.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Better logical flow.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

If you're listening to the Audible version, you may find the accents of the un-credited talent who mouth quotes from various people to be bizarre. Spanish, French, German, and Russian historical figures sound like Nelson Mandela. Even Siegmund Freud and Mahatma Gandhi sound like Nelson Mandela! Ferguson does a workman-like performance with the rest of the reading, but I question the decisions both to have him do the reading, and to have these other voice talents massacre their attempted accents.

Was Civilization worth the listening time?

Maybe, maybe not.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

Terrible Reader, OK Book

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

Reviewed: 06-10-13

What disappointed you about The Coming of the Third Reich?

The reader was the WORST ever. My mind constantly wandered as I listened, and I had to rewind to hear things again.

Any additional comments?

First, I completely agree with the other reviewers that this reader is TERRIBLE. Absolutely the worst reader I've experienced in over 140 Audible books. I continually found my mind wandering and had to back-up and re-listen to passages. This has never happened to me with any other audio book. Having started the next book - The Third Reich in Power - with the same reader, I can tell you that he is just as bad in that book.

As to the book itself...

It's a generally good survey of the years 1919-33 in Weimar Republic Germany, though I can't say it told me anything I didn't already know. The only exceptions to this are the dozens of small stories of small people, none of which add much to the narrative. On the other hand, the author skims over the "Revolution of 1919". From reading the book you'd have no idea what happened during this period. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a history of that period in Germany, and how Hitler came to power, this is a good resource.

One issue I have with the book is with the author's characterization of the Nazis and any nationalist org as "right wing" or "conservative". There have been plenty of left-wing nationalist parties over the years - in Russia, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia, for example. There have been plenty of left-wing racists - Margaret Sanger, Harold Laski, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and William Beveridge, to name a few. Just because the Nazis were violently opposed to Communism doesn't make them right-wing. The Menscheviks were opposed to the Bolsheviks, yet all that made them was a competing left-wing group. The Nazis were classically left-wing - they wanted to mobilize every aspect of society to serve the state, they intruded into every nook and crannie of life, they were an extreme perversion of the Progressivism of the era. By my own and many others' commonly understood definition of "right-wing" as being in favor of minimal government and maximum individual liberty, Nazism is just another radical, murderous left-wing ideology.

But then I realized that author Richard Evans is probably a left winger himself, so he consciously or unconsciously had to characterize the Nazis as right-wing. The tip-off was when he wrote that the Nazis' brutality and torture in 1933 didn't compared to the more systematized torture in "Argentina, Chile, and Greece in the 1970's". How about Stalin and then Beria's Soviet Union, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Mao's China, Fidel and Che's Cuba, or any other Communist dictatorship over the past 100 years? Are Argentina, Chile, and Greece really the apogee of systematized torture?

If you can ignore the constant references to "extreme right-wing" Nazis, and if you haven't already read or studied this period in Germany, this can be a useful book.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

The Thomas Friedman of World War I

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-28-11

Like Thomas Friedman, David Andelman is another NY Times "journalist" in search of the single unified theory of something, in this case of all history since 1919 and the Treaty of Versailles. While some of Andelman's analysis is insightful, he stretches his all-encompassing view that the post-war settlement by the Great Powers is the root of all modern evil. Thus, he lays the history of post-1945 Vietnam, Korea, and China to the decisions made and not made in Paris. His belief is that almost every region of the world was affected by Versailles - I'm surprised he left out Latin America.


On a minor note, Andelman seems obsessed by "Jews". I lost count of how many people he described as "a Jew from ..." The only other person whose religion he emphasized was the steretype of "Woodrow Wilson and his Calvinist upbringing". I don't know what Andelman's point was in mentioning who was Jewish. He also treats Jews as a nationality in Europe, rather than a religion. Thus he describes Yugoslavia as consisting of 45% Serbs, 20% Croats, 11% Slovenes... and 4% Jews. Yet when he talks about religion in Yugoslavia, he says it was rent by three religions - Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and Muslim.


Lastly, Andelman should have sprung for someone else to narrate his book. Whenever he quotes someone, he speeds up to 45 rpm and goes into a nasal staccato that reminds me of Eddie Murphy doing his imitation of a white doctor.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

Skip the first Third, Enjoy the Writing and Readin

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-09-11

You can skip the first 27 minutes, which is the author's acknowledgments. You can skip the next two hours, which mainly cover the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party in the 1920's and 30's. Then skip the next thee hours, until the Aussies get to Tobruk. And then skip ahead another hour until Rommel and the Germans get to Africa. So now you're seven hours into this book, and at chapter seven. That cuts the reading down by 70% of the running time.

The author does over-rate Gen. Rommel, and claims he was the most popular man in the Third Reich after Hitler himself. I don't believe this was true, but just an attempt by the author to inflate the importance of the enemy.

The author also blames General Archibald Percival Wavell for the later loss of Singapore, when it was actually General Arthur Ernest Percival who surrendered that island, admittedly under the distant command of Gen. Wavell. Not that Wavell was a great leader; just not as bad as the author claims.

I actually liked the reading. It was quite jocular and in character with the text of the book. I've seen other comments that criticized the reading and the style of writing, but I enjoyed them.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Book Great, Narration Atrocious

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-16-10

The book is well written and does a great job of telling the story of this forgotten war. Hastings doesn't pull any punches with either the Americans or North Koreans.

The narrator, though, is appalling. It took me some time and a second opinion to decide if it's a man or woman reading. His accent is the worst preening combination of public school English and East Coast prep school lock-jaw. He could hold an American accent for about one phrase before falling back into his own accent. His attempts to impersonate Koreans speaking English sound like Grade B Hollywood Gestapo agents rather than any Korean's I know.

Buy it for the book, not the narration.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Wooden Narrator

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-21-10

The story's good, but the narrator is wooden. The other narrator for this series is much better.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Recording Issues

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-09-08

I repeat what the other reviewer wrote. The book is good, but there are numerous times when the reader repeats a phrase - five of them so far halfway through the book - and one time he clears his throat and says, "Excuse me". Normally Blackstone Audio does such professional production, I'm surprised by this.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful