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J.

Moorhead, MN, United States
  • 43
  • reviews
  • 120
  • helpful votes
  • 75
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  • The Arms of Krupp

  • 1587-1968
  • By: William Manchester
  • Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
  • Length: 48 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 150
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 136
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 138

The Arms of Krupp brings to life Europe's wealthiest, most powerful family, a 400-year German dynasty that developed the world's most technologically advanced weapons, from cannons to submarines to antiaircraft guns; provided arms to generations of German leaders, including the Kaiser and Hitler; operated private concentration camps during the Nazi era; survived conviction at Nuremberg; and wielded enormous influence on the course of world events.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Where did Chapter Nine go?

  • By Scott on 06-24-17

Merchants of Death Are People Too

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

Reviewed: 07-19-17

I read this book more than forty years ago and loved it then. I love the audio version more. This is a long long book and many might drown in it's minutia. Manchester, however, is a master at epic story telling. He weaves history, period drama, and technical explanation into a compelling work that holds one's attention. Of course it helps that each generation of Krupp patriarchs had their quirks and closet skeletons. The Krupps were not king makers, but they were the family that armed kings. They allowed good men to make strong states and bad men to commit mass murder.

This is an old book and it is easy to forget that at the time it was published the implication of Germany as a whole with the Holocaust and not just the Nazis was new and controversial. Much of the second half of the work examines the Krupp family's willing use of slave labor to maintain the Nazi war machine. Critics charged Manchester as unfairly biased against the Germans; this at a time of the Cold War when it had become an important ally. Readers today should have better distance to judge.

Historians as well criticized "The Arms of Krupp" for its pretense as a scholarly work. There well may be a few cases where Manchester does not allow facts to get in the way of a good story, but more likely academic poo-pooing has more to do with envy over's Manchester's ability to make money from his historical writings.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Night Ocean

  • By: Paul La Farge
  • Narrated by: Elisabeth Rodgers
  • Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 90
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 86

Marina Willett, MD, has a problem. Her husband, Charlie, has become obsessed with H. P. Lovecraft, in particular with one episode in the legendary horror writer's life: In the summer of 1934, the "old gent" lived for two months with a gay teenage fan named Robert Barlow, at Barlow's family home in central Florida. What were the two of them up to? Were they friends - or something more? Just when Charlie thinks he's solved the puzzle, a new scandal erupts, and he disappears.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Frustratingly Uneven Due to Clumsy Plot Structure

  • By Adam on 06-15-17

Dead Cthulhu Still Lies Asleep

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

Reviewed: 07-19-17

For a novel claiming to be about Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos there's scarcely little information about this author or his work. There is the standard Lovecraft bio in the beginning, but this is a missing persons story that gets side tracked by focusing on authors associated with the rise of pulp horror and who were tangentially connected with Lovecraft. Informative as this book might be about the doings of these writers, in the end all we have are fictionalized renditions of their thoughts and interactions. There is precious little insight as to how they invented their worlds. There are a couple of plot twists , but don't expect Cthulhu and his minions to make an appearance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Burmese Days

  • A Novel
  • By: George Orwell
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 164
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 151
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 149

Colonial politics in Kyauktada, India, in the 1920s, come to a head when the European Club, previously for whites only, is ordered to elect one token native member. The deeply racist members do their best to manipulate the situation, resulting in the loss not only of reputations but of lives. Amid this cynical setting, timber merchant James Flory, a Brit with a genuine appreciation for the native people and culture, stands as a bridge between the warring factions. But he has trouble acting on his feelings, and the significance of his vote, both social and political, weighs on him.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Sad, Fierce and Ambitious Colonial Novel

  • By Darwin8u on 11-08-12

No elephant in the room in this book

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

Reviewed: 07-19-17

I loved Orwell's autobiographical work "Down and Out in Paris." "Burmese Days" draws on his civil service in colonial South East Asia, but is a novel. I'd read the short story "The Shooting of an Elephant" and wrongly supposed that it had been extracted from this work. The central character makes an oblique reference to an elephant shooting in his past but alas no elephants here. Always a critic of Britain's imperial domination, Orwell sets out to expose the seedy side of life at the fringes of empire. The focal point is the town's European club whose members are on the social downswing and for whom the colonies provide last opportunity to maintain a pretense of privilege. Contrasting are the Burmese who see in these Whites the means to advance their own social standing and confound their rivals.

This is not Orwell's best work, but it's instructive about race relations and the quiet desperation of colonial postings. Unfortunately it is difficult to write about monotony without being monotonous. The plot drags in places.

Personally I'm a fan of Fredrick Davidson (aka David Case) as a narrator. His range of dialects can accommodate any British setting and does justice to women's voices as well. Davidson however, is not everybody's cup of tea. You either love or hate him.

  • Ways of the World

  • A James Maxted Thriller
  • By: Robert Goddard
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 12 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 42

Four years of horrific fighting have finally ended on the battlefield, but in the spring of 1919, Paris is filled with delegates from around the world who are still trying to hammer out the terms of peace. One such delegate is British diplomat Sir Henry Maxted, in charge of liaising with Brazilians regarding seized ships. But before a deal is reached, Sir Henry turns up dead outside a Montparnasse apartment building, apparently having fell from the roof.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Ways of the world without end

  • By Kindle Customer on 06-29-15

I'm lost

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

Reviewed: 07-19-17

This was a plod from beginning to end.....an end such as it was for as other's say, it ends in mid paragraph. That's fine if it's part of a series one is committed to continuing. This snore of a plot isn't worth the candle let alone the cost of another credit. Too little action, too many indistinguishable characters. I expected more of a period espionage thriller that dealt with diplomatic intrigue and events of the Versailles conference etc. What I got was a "Who killed my father and who should prepare to die."

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Money

  • By: Émile Zola, Valerie Minogue (translator)
  • Narrated by: Napoleon Ryan
  • Length: 16 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20

Aristide Rougon, known as Saccard, is a failed property speculator determined to make his way once more in Paris. Unscrupulous, seductive, and with unbounded ambition, he schemes and manipulates his way to power. Financial undertakings in the Middle East lead to the establishment of a powerful new bank and speculation on the stock market; Saccard meanwhile conducts his love life as energetically as he does his business, and his empire is seemingly unstoppable.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A forgotten gem

  • By J. on 07-05-16

A forgotten gem

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

Reviewed: 07-05-16

Wall Street shenanigans are nothing new. Zola wrote about the French equivalent in 1891. Zola's works stand the test of time and it's a shame he is read so little today. Saccard is deliciously bad. You can't help liking him just for his shear mendacity and financial chutzpah. A 19th c. version of Bernie Madoff . Napolean Ryan is perfect as a narrator every bit as brilliant with character voice as Fredrick Davidson.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Swiss Spy

  • By: Alex Gerlis
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 11 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 425
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 388
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 391

It's not unusual for spies to have secrets, but Henry Hunter has more than most, and after he is stopped by British Intelligence at Croydon airport on the eve of the Second World War, he finds that he has even more. From Switzerland he embarks on a series of increasingly perilous missions into Nazi Germany, all while having to cope with different identities and competing spymasters.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great WWII Espionage Story.

  • By Celt on 02-18-16

A spy with human faults

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

Reviewed: 07-05-16

There seems to be a growing genre about sympathetic spies or policemen working in Nazi Germany just before the war. The best of this kind are written by Philip Kerr (the Bernie Gunther series) and Alan Furst whose protagonists are complex and developed. Gerlis's man, Henry Hunter is not of such moral and literary caliber nor is Gerlis's writing the equal of a Kerr or Furst. The Swiss Spy, however is a good read. A reluctant spy blackmailed by the British into spying against the Germans he also finds himself working for the Russians.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Sultans

  • By: Noel Barber
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 10 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31

This brilliantly readable work of history tells the bizarre story of the Ottoman Empire as seen through the lives of its extravagant and tyrannical sultans. With their absolute power, their love of pomp, and their overwhelming venality and corruption, rarely has a great empire been ruled by such grotesque and awesome figures. For 400 years, they fought wars, terrorized their subjects, made Turkey into a great empire, and then allowed her to decline into ostentatious and impotent decay.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the indispensables for several reasons:

  • By David on 07-17-14

Mamas don't raise your sons to be Jannisaries

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

Reviewed: 07-05-16

Talk about job insecurity. Rise to the throne of the Ottoman Empire and see how long you last. After listening to Barber's account of the succession of inept misfits who murdered their way to the top only to fall prey to a similar fate at the hand of their brother or son, you wonder how this "Sick Man of Europe" was ever born in the first place. Barber explains the mechanisms of religion (Islam) and martial prowess (in the form of slave Christian soldiers-- the Janissaries) served as the foundations of Ottoman power. He also shows how the erosion of these institutions through inheritance and the power of palace eunuchs brought about the empire's demise. For every Suleiman the Great there were a dozen blithering idiots just begging to be dispatched by the silken bowstring. Even Ataturk, who in school I was taught was an enlightened reformer gets negative reviews by Barber as a vindictive philandering tyrant. The book is somewhat dated being written in 1973 and there is a large bibliography of more resent works in the wake of Edward Said's Orientalism that places the Islamic world in a more sympathetic light. The one advantage we do enjoy from this work's age is that it could be narrated by the late great Frederick Davidson (aka David Case.) One either loves or hates Davidson. For me his resonating voice comes as the word of God.

  • The Hangman's Daughter

  • By: Oliver Pötzsch, Lee Chadeayne (translator)
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 12 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,964
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3,501
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,496

When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play in his small Bavarian town. When more children disappear and an orphan is found dead with the same mark, the mounting hysteria threatens to erupt. Before the unrest forces him to torture and execute the woman who aided in the birth of his children, Jakob must unravel the truth.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great but graphic

  • By Margaret on 07-14-13

Hangmen are people too

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

Reviewed: 07-05-16

Why is it that every book now seems to be about somebody who happens to have a daughter? Anyway, this is one of those typical Mideval mysteries in the spirit of Cadfael only instead of a monk, the detective is a hangman. This hangman has his compassionate side. He also seems to be intellectually overqualified for his job title, but this is a family business. There are the typical church ideologues, self-serving municipal functionaries and herbal remedies and poisons though the apothecary plot elements are handled by a young doctor instead of being a hobby of the protagonist. Historical series (Aubrey/Maturin or Poldark for example) always have to include a doctor. Well somebody has to sew up the wounded or discover the tincture of murder. It's not a bad story, it's just that I've read its kind so often before and the characters feel inserted into a formulaic plot like Lego pieces.

  • The Rising

  • By: Ian Tregillis
  • Narrated by: Chris Kayser
  • Length: 15 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 477
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 436
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 436

Jax, a rogue Clakker, has wreaked havoc upon the Clockmakers' Guild by destroying the Grand Forge. Reborn in the flames, he must begin his life as a free Clakker, but liberation proves its own burden. Berenice, formerly the legendary spymaster of New France, mastermind behind her nation's attempts to undermine the Dutch Hegemony, has been banished from her homeland and captured by the Clockmakers Guild's draconian secret police force.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • too much fighting

  • By Julie W. Capell on 04-29-16

More of the same --hurrah

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

Reviewed: 07-05-16

Not your children's steampunk. The series continues and we are left waiting for more. No doubt there will be more.

  • The Mechanical

  • The Alchemy Wars
  • By: Ian Tregillis
  • Narrated by: Chris Kayser
  • Length: 15 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 883
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 810
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 805

Soon after the Dutch scientist and clockmaker Christiaan Huygens invented the very first Clakker in the seventeenth century, the Netherlands built a whole mechanical army. It wasn't long before a legion of clockwork fusiliers marched on Westminster, and the Netherlands became the world's sole superpower.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Great book that goes nowhere.

  • By Eric Kimball on 07-07-16

The Tinman's twin.

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

Reviewed: 07-05-16

I love the concept of steampunk-- I just find that most steampunk literature is --- well, crap. Not so with this series. There's a lot of familiar themes in Tregillis' work; sentient robots, AI that acquires human emotion. The book picks up where Asimov and Philip Pullman leave off. Kayser's voices both human and mechanical work fine