R. Wagner

Victoria, Australia
  • 6
  • reviews
  • 21
  • helpful votes
  • 133
  • ratings
  • Mawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age

  • Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen
  • By: Peter FitzSimons
  • Narrated by: Paul English
  • Length: 23 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 127
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 114
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 112

Australia's best-selling nonfiction author of all time. Douglas Mawson, born in 1882 and knighted in 1914, was Australia's greatest Antarctic explorer. On 2 December 1911, he led an expedition from Hobart to explore the virgin frozen coastline below, 2000 miles of which had never felt the tread of a human foot. After setting up Main Base at Cape Denision and Western Base on Queen Mary Land, he headed east on an extraordinary sledging trek with his companions, Belgrave Ninnis and Dr Xavier Mertz.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Real Life "Boys Own" Adventure Story

  • By R. Wagner on 11-21-12

A Real Life "Boys Own" Adventure Story

5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-21-12

Would you listen to Mawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age again? Why?

Yes, and intend to do so. It is long and detailed but so fascinating in its account of events in early 20th century Antarctic.

What did you like best about this story?

This account is history brought to life through the diaries and logs of each explorer and many of their men who travelled the journey to the Antarctic. It's recounted in the present tense, so you feel that you are there as the story unfolds. Included are so many interesting facts about the region, the equipment and the improvised methods used to overcome extreme difficulties, all extremely compelling listening. Also, there are many moments of both humour and sadness.

Any additional comments?

I was surprised just how much I enjoyed this book. If you like real-life adventure and modern history told in an accessible and entertaining manner, then this book is for you. I will be on the lookout for other books by Peter FitzSimons. Highly recommended.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Les Miserables

  • By: Victor Hugo
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 57 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,429
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 818
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 833

Set in the Parisian underworld and plotted like a detective story, Les Miserables follows Jean Valjean, originally an honest peasant, who has been imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving family. A hardened criminal upon his release, he eventually reforms, becoming a successful industrialist and town mayor. Despite this, he is haunted by an impulsive former crime and is pursued relentlessly by the police inspector Javert.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I love this book - one of the best of all time

  • By Sher from Provo on 06-30-10

A Monumental Masterwork

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-05-10

Les Miserables is a huge sprawling novel. It's very LONG!! But don't let that deter you. While it takes its own sweet time to evolve, grow and conclude the characters are fascinating and the story is beautifully painted by the author Victor Hugo. The language (translated from the originally published French) is poetic and highly evocative, occasionally offering flashes of humour in amongst the emotive scenes.

Some readers will find the heavy descriptions of historical aspects of French politics and its monarchy rather tedious, lapsing into many pages between the main storyline. Indeed, towards the end I found myself scooting past some of this detail. And, you also need to set aside plenty of time to read this unabridged version - it took me more than three weeks of constant commitment to plough through the work. But, having said all that, this is truly a literary masterpiece - most enjoyable and well worth the effort.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Stormy Weather

  • By: Carl Hiaasen
  • Narrated by: George Wilson
  • Length: 14 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,373
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 744
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 752

Stormy Weather centers on the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. The devastation of the storm has attracted crowds of voyeurs and impostors to Florida. Drawn by the chance to prey on Andrew's victims, misfits like the murderous ex-con Snapper and the dangerously seductive Edie find easy targets for their insurance scams. They're not prepared, though, when they meet their opposition, led by a hoary ex-governor who smokes toads.

Both hilariously funny and deadly accurate, Carl Hiaasen's novel will take you into a Florida that is far from the frilly palms and pink flamingos of its post cards.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • But a sunny review...

  • By Laurie on 07-26-08

Perhaps a little overrated?

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-05-10

This is my first Hiaasen book. It proved mildly interesting, keeping me listening through to the end. It's no literary masterpiece but the author can turn a phrase with humour. However, I have to say I didn't find it as hilarious as did some other readers. It moved along very quickly but the conclusion felt dragged out. It seemed to fizzle out towards the end, providing a rather unsatisfying ending. I'm not sure that I'd bother reading any other Hiassen books.

  • Che Guevara

  • A Revolutionary Life
  • By: Jon Lee Anderson
  • Narrated by: Armando Durán
  • Length: 36 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 724
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 488
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 493

Che Guevara was a dashing rebel whose epic dream was to end poverty and injustice in Latin America and the developing world through armed revolution. Jon Lee Anderson traces Che's extraordinary life from his comfortable Argentine upbringing to the battlefields of the Cuban revolution, from the halls of power in Castro's government to his failed campaign in the Congo and his assassination in the Bolivian jungle.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Encompassing and Fair Look at an Historical Man

  • By Matt on 08-10-11

The Man - Warts and All - Well Worth A Read

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-14-10

This book represents a significant undertaking to document the life of Guevara. Fidel and Raul Castro, and many other revolutionary fighters are also discussed in great detail. This work does not try to glamourise Guevara - it presents a portrait in great depth, including both the successes and failings of the man - a warts and all reference source.

The book is long! It is well documented and the author has incorporated a wide variety of research techniques to get to a deeper understanding of both Guevara, the people he fought with and against, the circumstances surrounding armed struggles, and the political climates in each of the countries in which he visited.

Descriptions of tough conditions in the jungles and mountains of Cuba, Bolivia, and the Congo were fascinating. The takeover of Cuba by Castro and Guevara, the wooing and subsequent falling out with USSR, the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis provided some great insights.

I loved this book, and will probably revisit it at some future date. It's probably not the sort of book for everyone and can be hard ploughing through the detail. But if you have the patience and interest, this book will dispel many myths about this astonishing character.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Great Railway Bazaar

  • By: Paul Theroux
  • Narrated by: Frank Muller
  • Length: 10 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 204
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 89

Theroux recounts his early adventures on an unusual grand continental tour. Asia's fabled trains are the stars of a journey that takes him on a loop eastbound from London's Victoria Station to Tokyo Central, then back from Japan on the Trans-Siberian. Brimming with Theroux's signature humor and wry observations, this engrossing chronicle is essential reading for both the ardent adventurer and the armchair traveler.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Viewing the World from a Railway Carriage

  • By R. Wagner on 12-04-09

Viewing the World from a Railway Carriage

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-04-09

I have never read a Paul Theroux travel book before. And this first encounter proved to be most entertaining! The author takes us on a remarkable journey from London, quickly through Europe and then at a much more leisurely pace through a wonderful Asian experience - many countries, many sights, many sounds....and many unforgettable characters. Theroux's descriptions of the trains he travelled, the visual images he conjures up in the mind of the reader and the verbal exchanges with locals are truly delightful and mesmerizing. Each chapter is a listening joy.

One highlight included Theroux's fascinating descriptions of a Vietnam in its last stages of a long and bloody war, complete with vivid descriptions some beautiful countryside contrasted with a people exhausted from battle and struggling to survive. Another memorable read was Chapter 7's most humorous depiction of Lahore, Pakistan - here Theroux demonstrates an almost perfect sense of timing in his storytelling - just like the very best comedians!

This is classy writing. Funny, witty and packed with emotional impact as the author interacts with every new stranger he meets. But, just as importantly, the narrator - Frank Muller - is absolutely superb! Reproducing with seeming ease the many local accents in the dialogue, Muller brings to life the stories in this wonderful book.

Yes, this was my first Paul Theroux book. But it won't be my last.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Rest Is Noise

  • Listening to the 20th Century
  • By: Alex Ross
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 23 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 370
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 208
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 206

The Rest Is Noise takes the listener inside the labyrinth of modern music, from turn-of-the-century Vienna to downtown New York in the '60s and '70s. We meet the maverick personalities and follow the rise of mass culture on this sweeping tour of 20th-century history through its music.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Learned so much!

  • By Paula on 02-18-08

Excellent for serious music enthusiasts

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-16-09

This book is an important contribution to writings and analyses of 20th century music. It deals largely with 'serious' musical art forms and does so, for the most part, in great depth. By providing the political and social backgrounds during the lives of some composer, Ross enriches the book with valuable contexts that help us to understand the music of each period. He continually makes interesting connections between each composer with both their peers and mentors, providing some astonishing insights that are not commonly known. Fascinating stuff! The period in Europe between 1900 and 1945 is most effectively delivered and illuminating, as is American art music in the 50's and 60's.

Ross is a wonderful writer who employs rich descriptive language and a nice balance between facts and occasional humorous antidotes. The narrator does a fine job of endeavoring to bring the text to life without letting too much unnecessary drama get in the way. It's a large book, and he moves it along at a good pace.

As already indicated by several other reviewers, this book is not for everyone. It would be particularly relevant to the serious music enthusiast, students and music educators, and arts historians. Recommended.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful