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Glaudrung

Among the Eldrich Horrors
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Recent History, Very Relevant.

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

Reviewed: 07-16-19

This book covers the Israeli bombing of the Syrian nuclear reactor before the Arab Spring. You'll find many major figures have familiar names like Bush and Putin and Assad and Netanyahu and Olmert and Bolton. The book is one of a kind as many details inside here were strictly classified before this publication only a couple months ago. These details include secure communication between world leaders and the minutes of top level meetings which Katz likely secured by interviewing these leaders directly.

That said, there are downsides to this book. It is rather opinionated, in particular the repeated references to alleged military and intelligence failures in Lebanon and Iraq which are highly debatable and not at all relevant to the story at hand are what stood out to me.

But whether you're into current events, middle east politics, or military/intelligence studies, then this book is for you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Massively Underappreciated Piece of Literature.

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

Reviewed: 06-12-19

First I must thank the editor/narrator for putting this all together, as it is not simply an anthology of the author's work but each chapter goes year by year in Lovecraft's life in a brief bio to show how certain stories were inspired and give a look into Lovecraft the man. Actually writing all that required through sifting through countless letters to family and friends and professional correspondences, so I would give Finn John a 6 star review if I could!

Second thing to get straight is that while many of these stories, especially "At the Mountains of Madness," contain many many awesome elements these a far from perfect. Lovecraft wrote primarily for his own amusement and was obsessed with archaic and dark things, which makes for great sci-fi horror but there are many recycled concepts throughout this work (like the phase "dilapidated cyclopean ruins"). Also, suspension of disbelief is often tenuous as while this is all in a shared universe, it is intended to be based while normal life goes on around it. So while it maybe acceptable that one near extinct race older than the dinosaurs lived undiscovered, it is not acceptable to believe that all of these monsters existed (however, these are mostly stand alone stories, so it is not much an issue).

Third, this with Volume 2 and Mr John's compilation of Lovecraft's Collaborations and Ghostwriting is a complete chronology of all Lovecraft's diverse works. These include the "dream sequences," which are tales that take place in the alternate reality offered by the long dreams of comas. These make no suspension of disbelief, and depending which fanboy you ask these are either Lovecraft's best works or his worse.

Fourth, Lovecraft's appreciation for various subjects varied. His technical science is on point so he can use actually plausible scientific research to introduce science fiction. Lovecraft is also very sympathetic to hard choices and mental anguish and PTSD, given his mother's insanity. However, Lovecraft was subject to both to social conventions of his day, and was not so well traveled or familiar with other cultures. This is a polite way of saying that Lovecraft's racial stereotypes were cringe-worthy even by 1930's standards, so if you're particularly sensitive to that stuff I recommend skipping "The Red Hook Horror."

One thing that particularly illustrates how much people are missing out is that John Carpenter's movie "The Thing" is considered one of the best horror movies of all time, but it was written simply by taking the best elements from Lovecraft's work and putting them in a single story. That, when Carpenter only used one of Lovecraft's monsters, so imagine what could be done with other dozen or so? Besides that, but Lovecraft inspired many authors both directly and indirectly, and very much invented the modern concept of sci-fi horror (BTW, Shelley's "Frankenstein" is neither sci-fi nor horror).

So if you're a fan of literature (like me) or scary tales (unlike me), I highly recommend poking your nose into Mr John's work, because I know of no other complete compilation of Lovecraft's work, much less one with a bio attached.

This author's essay isn't well informed.

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

Reviewed: 05-13-19

Just the openly intro reveals a highly partial and hostile approach to the clandestine world. He deplores every action of the US government in the Congo, while his sole source of info are declassified official orders and reports. No first hand research whatsoever in an article that attempts to flip US public opinion on it's head. This is an obvious attempt to impose modern liberal anti-colonial and isolationist ideals on series of wars the author seems obvious to.

Not for Children.

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

Reviewed: 03-14-19

The biggest problem with this book is it's a guide. Hence it has a lot of lists and charts that. Make for great booklets but not so much an audiobook. There's actually several chapters in a row dedicated to a list of all the Runes and what they mean.

The second problem is that it's literally a guide to modern Wicca, or as the book says "neo-paganism." This is a mix of surviving cult practices and a deliberate attempt to revive archaic Germanic religion. Yes, these people exist, I've met one. But whether or not all these spells and Rune interpretation works is another matter (it's a bit like Voodoo in that way).

A third minor problem is that if it weren't for the book saying otherwise I would think the book was read by a really good robot reader. She repeats herself a couple times and there's no inflection whatsoever.

To the book's credit it has a consice explanation of Norse mythology and phonetics. Great if you're researching the Norse, but I would not advise you let young and impressionable people near this book.

Opinionated for a College Lecture

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

Reviewed: 03-11-19

First, let me establish that I recommend this book. Second, let's make it clear the lecturer is an expert in mummies, so my criticism is directed at other things.

First, it is apparent that the lecturer is the type who falls in love with his subject, so he doesn't like to here bad news about what was typical Pharaoh behavior.

Second, the guy is agnostic. And since this is a history class, I should not be able to see that. It comes up when he gives his interpretation of the Exodus. He is not as well read on the subject of Biblical Archeology as I am, and while nothing can be proven there are many important points he misses on the subject. In fact, according to other theories he misplaces the Exodus by centuries. And the assertion the Red Sea was really the Reed Sea in the Exodus saga has been debunked.

Third, as alluded earlier, the lecturer presents his interpretation of the evidence. He always does say when he's expressing his opinion, but he never provides an alternative. I would say this series could benefit greatly for expansion in that regard, because this is a little short in for a Great Courses series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Gross Oversimplification

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

Reviewed: 03-06-19

Unlike many Charles River Editor books, this one actually tries to give a balanced account. The biggest problem with this book is that it tries to cover 50 years of history in under 90 minutes. Obviously this leaves the reader with more questions than it answers, and I could point to all the many things this left out, but just understand the CRE is a business and these books are just cash cow. I won't be buying them anymore.

Worthless

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

Reviewed: 02-27-19

The intro advertises itself as educating you enough to "school you teachers." Besides the fact that this is a little over 90 minutes long, appealing to the reader's ego is never a good sign.

I got this book to compliment stuff I got from the Grear Courses, and I recommend you skip this and go straight to them, as I only finished this so I could review it.

There's a cartoonish attempt to paint the Incas in the best of light, and the Europeans in the worst of light, to suit modern anti-colonial and anti-religious agendas.

Early settlements are referred to as "peaceful" and "pristine" and untainted by the outside world. Fact is we know near zilch about them, and by the time we do we found they have been interacting and fighting neighbors for some time.

The Spanish are called "diseased" even before the book mentions they inadvertently brought European germs, and actually suffered just as heavily from native germs. The Inca royalty to not get any derogatory titles in spite being inbred and fat.

The book has all the praises for Inca military methods, and insists that Spanish victory was solely due to technology. But there's a problem: the Inca practiced empire building by extorting towns and conscripting their help while avoiding actual fighting. The Spanish practiced empire building by extorting money and conscripting locals into helping them without a fight. Seriously, what's the difference? Besides the Spanish victory?

The Crusades did NOT initiate the gunpowder revolution.

Most of the Conquistadors and Reconquista campaigns were NOT religiously motivated.

Book makes no effort to explain the reasons behind why the Spanish took the ransom but killed the king.

The list goes on, but just screw this author and everything he stands for.

Extremely Opinionated.

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

Reviewed: 02-13-19

This is a huge book, but it covers a massive topic. I has a conversational tone instead of a narrative, so individual chapters have a general topic but a meandering story. There are many controversial statements presented as fact here which could be argued, but the author only mentions them in passing so you must ask yourself why it was included in the first place.

The author is constantly comparing what went on in Iran to contemporary events in Europe. This becomes impossible because each individually is a non-specific issue that covers a broad policies in Iran without detail. Also, the author stereotypes all "Europe" to include everything from the ancient Greeks to Revolutionary France.

For instance, he brings up the preception of Persia (Iran) from the Bible. That opens up a can of worms, but the author could have started with "it is beyond the scope of this book to assess the accuracy of any sacred text." But instead, the book presents what is said in the Bible as fact with two end notes that say "although it was really a composite work written centuries later." This combined with the fact in one passage he says that ancient Iranian alphabet was dropped for the "more accurate" Arabian one, but later he states flatly that the transition was a product of the Islamic invasion. He also avoids saying how Islam came by mass conversion at sword point, only saying that the older Zoroastrianism was replaced "very quickly."

The author thinks the Latin "Rex" means theocrat. He is WRONG, Rex means king or dictator which is solely secular authority.

Author admits that slavery in Iran was open to many abuses including sexual slavery, but insists that it was not as bad as what happened in Europe. The unfair comparison is unfair, especially since Europe had a whole rainbow of policies and practices over the centuries. Also, the author says that inter-racial marriages were not uncommon, but he ignores it was also forbidden and subject to all sorts of mandatory discrimination. In fact, most of the biracial children were the product of sexual slavery. But since the author does not detail how social and legal justice was dealt out, he allows the impression that slavery was unimportant.

You can obviously see where the author is coming from. But there is a lot of good information in this book, but inexperienced ears should be cautious of the lack of an overall argument or narrative and occasional factual inaccuracies.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

Good for seeing the true face of Hamas, but beware

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

Reviewed: 01-27-19

This is a private account of a high profile Hamas defector, accounting for his life and what he saw. However, be careful not to accept everything here as fact, especially when the do not concern Yousef directly. There are many distortions and even factually inaccuracies about events elsewhere. This is not a product of Yousef lying, this is a product of him regurgitation a long list of fake newa and rumors which he never had much way of knowing better. I think he meant well, but his still yet narrow view that the war was pointless and to be avoided was more naive than anything else.

In effect, his actions were more like his father's than he realizes. Not participating directly in the fighting, but being a valuable unarmed helper.

The most gripping part of the tale was the account of the special prisons Israel has for terrorists. No matter what you think actually goes on in their, you're about to be surprised.

Great for students, but not pleasure reading.

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

Reviewed: 01-26-19

First we should establish that this book is HUGE, and it covers the whole basic history of the Holy Roman Empire. A downside is that it is organized by subject, not chronologically, which will make it a little hard to follow. Also, since it has broad coverage of subjects that overlap over a period of 1500 years, it will be impossible for a complete amateur to understand. My suggestion is that if you don't already know what the Holy Roman Empire was, don't bother with this book. If you do and want to learn more, then yes get thus because the author presents many interesting arguments about often erroneous historical preceptions.