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Michael E.

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  • 12
  • helpful votes
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  • The 13th Valley

  • By: John M. Del Vecchio
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 27 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 226
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 203
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 200

The 13th Valley follows the terrifying Vietnam combat experiences of James Chelini, a telephone-systems installer who finds himself an infantryman in territory controlled by the North Vietnamese army. Spiraling deeper and deeper into a world of conflict and darkness, this harrowing account of Chelini's plunge and immersion into jungle warfare traces his evolution from a semipacifist to an all-out combat-crazed soldier.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • One of the classic novels of Vietnam

  • By Michael E. on 07-05-17

One of the classic novels of Vietnam

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

Reviewed: 07-05-17

Any additional comments?

In "The 13th Valley" John del Vecchio has created a work that is captivating, engrossing, immersive, authentic and heartbreaking. It is an intense account of the members of a company in the 101st Airborne division during an operation in the Central Highlands of Vietnam in August 1970. You learn what the soldiers are thinking, feeling, and dreaming. It is also a disturbing book in many ways. And that is as it should be. One's stand for or against the Vietnam War is immaterial. The reality for the men who served in Vietnam was surviving 365 days and most counted each day assiduously.

The book is a detailed and authentic account in the sense that operational aspects of company level combat tactics are related in minute detail. Of course, there's a certain level of violence and gore. After all, it's war. But the author doesn't dwell on that. A lot of the book's realism lies in its exploration of the day-to-day struggles that are, and always have been, the lot of an infantryman in the field. That is, misery in the form of exhaustion, filth, mosquitoes, leaches, searing heat, dust, torrential rain, cold, mud, hunger, thirst, and sleep deprivation. And the seemingly endless hour of mind numbing boredom punctuated by minutes of sheer terror when contact is made.

I don't know how many times I've read "The 13th Valley" since it was first published. Probably every three or four years. Each time I read it I learn something new. Listening to the audio book was time well spent. The narrator was excellent. Being familiar with the book, I remembered the location of units at particular points in time, how they moved around, landmarks, etc. I'm also familiar with military-speak, equipment, weapons, etc. Unfortunately, Audible does not make available a supplement with the maps or the glossary found in the printed version. The maps are referenced at the end of chapters as a summary of daily activities and are necessary to get a clear picture of where units are or have been, and how those movements relate to the overall mission. Those not familiar with military jargon and nomenclature may be overwhelmed by the terms thrown around. Not having a downloadable pdf file containing the maps and glossary was disappointing and will cause frustration for some listeners. I have to give the overall rating 4/5 stars based on that shortcoming.

I think John del Vecchio's "The 13th Valley" is a classic novel of the Vietnam experience in the same way that Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead" and James Jones's "The Thin Red Line" are classic fiction from World War II. There are other excellent Vietnam novels, such as "A Rumor of War," "Fields of Fire," or "Matterhorn," to name a few. I've read those and many more. I can't say that "The 13th Valley" is the best of the lot; it's just my favorite.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Sun Also Rises

  • By: Ernest Hemingway
  • Narrated by: William Hurt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,575
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,973
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,974

The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the story introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. Follow the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of the 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Great actor, terrible reader, kills classic

  • By Kerry on 09-14-14

Hemingway Classic

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

Reviewed: 05-02-17

Would you try another book from Ernest Hemingway and/or William Hurt?

I will definitely listen to other Hemingway titles. I read and enjoyed his novels almost 50 years ago and am rediscovering them in my dotage.

Would you be willing to try another one of William Hurt’s performances?

I am a huge fan of William Hurt and was looking forward to this narration. Unfortunately, I found his reading to be disappointing. He has problems with some of the accents that I found inconsistent and distracting.

The Ionian Mission
    Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 8
    
        By:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Patrick O'Brian
    
    


    
    
        Narrated by:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Simon Vance
    
    


    
    Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins
    391 ratings
    Overall 4.6
  • The Ionian Mission

  • Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 8
  • By: Patrick O'Brian
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 391
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 245
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 245

Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, veterans now of many battles, return in this audiobook to the seas where they first sailed as shipmates. But Jack is now a senior captain commanding a line-of-battle ship in the Royal Navy's blockade of Toulon, and this is a longer, harder, colder war than the dashing frigate actions of his early days.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable, but not one of the best in the series

  • By Michael E. on 03-21-13

Enjoyable, but not one of the best in the series

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

Reviewed: 03-21-13

Over the years I've read the series from beginning to end twice and am listening my way through it this time. "The Ionian Mission" is not as dull or plodding as blockade duty in the Mediterranean might be, but I have never thought it offered much in the way of advancing pivotal story arcs that run through the entire series. It never seems to go anywhere (beyond blockade duty in the Med) and, in that respect, is probably an accurate reflection of the story’s setting.

I've enjoyed Simon Vance's narration of all of the books I've listened to thus far. He reads well, with just the right pace and dramatic flair. With books like the Aubrey/Maturin series, a narrator's ability to perform accents well contributes considerably to my overall enjoyment. Mess those up and, for me, the listening experience becomes irritating and annoying, and only becomes more so as the story progresses. To my opinion, Vance does a creditable job with the varied accents of the characters our protagonists encounter during their voyages. (I haven't listened to any of the O'Brian books narrated by Patrick Tull, so I'm not able to compare the two. As both versions are unabridged, I can only speculate that Tull's pacing may be slower. That might account for why his versions consistently run three to four hours longer than Simon Vance's.)

All in all, I recommend "The Ionian Mission", but don't think it's one of Patrick O’Brian’s best works. However, even with some shortcomings, I think it's worth four stars and that listening to it was time well spent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Great Derangement

  • A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire
  • By: Matt Taibbi
  • Narrated by: David Slavin
  • Length: 5 hrs and 40 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 159
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 116
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 116

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi set out to describe the nature of George Bush's America in the post-9/11 era and ended up vomiting demons in an evangelical church in Texas, riding the streets of Baghdad in an American convoy to nowhere, searching for phantom fighter jets in Congress, and falling into the rabbit hole of the 9/11 Truth Movement.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A mixed blessing

  • By Michael E. on 11-13-08

A mixed blessing

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-13-08

This is a tough call for me. I think Matt Taibbi is one of the great social commentators of his generation. He is articulate, ironic, incisive, irreverent, and witty. He isn't the least bit shy about skewering pompous, bloviating blowhards regardless of their political persuasion. His insights into the machinations of the primaries and the presidential campaign in "Rolling Stone" and on "Real Time" (HBO) made our quadrennial descent into madness almost bearable for me. So, with that in mind, I looked forward to listening to "The Great Derangement". Unfortunately, it was an underwhelming experience. I haven't seen the book, so I don't know what Audible or Random House removed during the abridgement, but I'm guessing that a lot of excellent stuff ended up on the editorial cutting room floor. I know; caveat emptor when you buy an abridgement (which is why I generally avoid them). Just the same, I was very disappointed. I give it 5 stars for content and the narrator, 2 stars for the abridgement, and a 3 overall. In the end, listening to "The Great Derangement" was like eating half a Snickers bar. What I got was really good, but it would have been a lot more satisfying to have scarfed the whole thing. Here's hoping that his latest book, "Smells Like Dead Elephants", comes to Audible in an unabridged version.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful