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Winston's War audiobook cover art

Some good info on WW2 but poor story execution

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-18-05

'Winston's War' is very disappointing. There are some excellent novelistic profiles of Churchill and Chamberlain and his toadies in this book about events prior to WW2. But Guy Burgess, the soviet spy, was never an important player in any of these pre-war events as fictionally portrayed here. Nor is the Burgess character made the least bit interesting, which in a perverse way he surely was, by his association with Donald MacLean, Kim Philby and Blunt, none of whom, if you can believe it, are mentioned anywhere in this novel. Minor fictional characters like an emigre barber are introduced and discarded without the least effect on the story other than wasting the listener's time way overlong. Several of the most consequential Churchillian events and speeches prior to WW2 are completely omitted. If the author had stuck to just the high level shenanigans leading up to WW2 in the British political parties and press, he might have found a rewarding story here. But the author got hung up on the expressed homosexuality of some upper class hypocrites working well beneath any meaningful policy levels to explain some strange turning points, none of which makes the slightest sense, even in hindsight. Find a better book to listen to. This novel is a waste of your time.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

Spytime audiobook cover art

This book is not worth a minute of your time

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-15-05

William Buckley should stick to political interviews and commentary if Spytime is a good example of his novel writing. His characters, at least two of whom, James Jesus Angleton and Kim Philby, are two of the most fascinating spies and counterspies of all time, never leave their cardboard images. Buckley's sex scenes are laughable, but perhaps laudable in a man of his conservative stripe. You can easily mistake them for massage therapy sessions. He violated the first rule of sex writing: if you cannot write the scene at least as erotically as Henry Miller, skip it. But the worst sin of Spytime is that it is incredibly dull, leaving out some of the most explosive incidents in the wonderful world of espionage from 1950 to 1974 and the exciting conversations that surrounded them. Buckley could have easily gleaned these exciting incidents from public records and embued them with dynamite suspense and interest, if he were John Le Carre. He is not even close, alas. Don't make my mistake and listen to this book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

The Rabbit Factory audiobook cover art

The Rabbit Factory is not worth any of your time

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-13-04

I was ashamed to have listened to The Rabbit Factory all the way through in the hopes it would improve. It only got worse. Do not waste a second of your time on it. The book concerns the interrelationships among several Southern lowlifes, none of whom is the least interesting, funny or even raunchy as advertised. Most characters are violent, drunk, stoned or repugnant in some way. Larry Brown must have written something good sometime in order to get an agent and publisher for this dreck, but this is not it.

5 of 18 people found this review helpful

Red Azalea audiobook cover art

Red Azalea

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-13-04

This is a marvelous memoir of China just before the modern era of Dung Shao Ping and the commercial rebirth of China. This is a story of an intelligent woman forced to live in the country during Mao's Cultural Revolution and ended up in the state-run movie industry due to her looks and lucky connections.

It is a frank and warm memoir without insipid political overtones. Most edifying. Well worth your time if Mao's China interests you.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful