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Mortimer

Lewisburg, WV United States
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  • 12
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Comes Up Short of What Might Have Been

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

Reviewed: 01-20-19

From the title and based upon the Audible description, I expected this book to cover the history of the entire Pan American Highway, from Prudhoe Bay to Tierra del Fuego. Or, I at least thought that the important portions of the road would be covered. Not so. First, half of the book concerns attempts at creating a rail line through Mexico and Central America in the 19th Century. Of course, that never occurred. It is an interesting political history, but does not concern what we now consider the Pan American Highway.

The highway portion of the book covers little of the highway itself beyond the Central American portion. Again, there is some interesting history here, but it leaves out the old AlCan Highway, the interstate system through the US, the Mexican highways, and any highways at all in South America. All that is included is what I would call the "shortest line on the map."

Furthermore, there is very little of the story of how the highway was built. Mostly it concerns the surveying expeditions in preparation for the highway construction.

So, what is left is a tale about the politics of the highway through Central America.

I even had to look up the Pan American Highway on Wikipedia to see what roads constitute the "longest line."

Needless to say, I was surprised and disappointed when the book ended with no discussion of other portions of the Pan American Highway. I was really looking forward to learning about the segments through the South American countries. If either the title of the book has been honest or the description on Audible had mentioned what the book was really about, I would not have purchased it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Not Bad for California Newcomers

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

Reviewed: 09-21-18

As a native Californian, I was interested to hear some new tales about the state and see if there were any other gems of information I was not aware of. For me, there was very little that I had not read or heard before, usually many times. However, I think this would be a good primer on California for someone who has not lived here for an extended period of time.

The narrator is very good. However, I was appalled to hear city and other names of Spanish origin pronounced as if they were English words. La Jolla, for example, was pronounced "la jolla" instead of "la hoya". He repeated the name a number of times at one point and it really began to grate on my ears. I have encountered mispronunciations in other Audible books (people's names and geographic names, which are well known to those you are familiar with them), but these errors come up much more often in this work than in any I have encountered. I'm not sure why an editor does not clue the narrator in with a script note before the recording is executed.

Anyway, I did find some enjoyable discoveries in this Audiobook, making it worth the cost.

For Buffs and Non-Buffs

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

Reviewed: 02-18-17

I feel that this story is so well done that it should satisfy listeners who are well-versed in the Battle of Gettysburg as well as neophytes. Peters' experience as a military officer comes through in the thoughts and language of the various characters portrayed. Unlike the Killer Angels, be prepared for some salty language, just as a real soldier would have spoken.

There are some particular aspects of this story that I think deserve recognition. One is portrayal of the German immigrants in the war as well as that of the Irish. These individuals made an invaluable contribution to the Union war effort, and the German immigrants in particular have been overlooked. Yet, they were in a foreign environment, often without an understanding of English, and sometimes discriminated against by "real" Americans.

I also applaud Peters for portraying George Meade as he ought to have been, a hero of Gettysburg for the Union and a highly-competent, sometimes brilliant commander. He defeated the Army of Northern Virginia by making the correct decisions at the right times. Although revisionism has now embraced Meade and restored his reputation, this story is a welcome addition to that better understanding of him.

In a similar vein, I very much appreciated the due diligence afforded to Henry Hunt's contribution to the victory by his highly professional and experienced use of the Union artillery.

I would have enjoyed the addition of the 3rd days' battle on the East Cavalry Field,, and the defense of Culp's Hill, but I understand that these are minor scenarios in the who of the battle and not every aspect can be addressed. Yet, I would like to hear Peters' creation of a voice for Kilpatrick, Custer, Pap Green, and others..

The narrator's voice is excellent, and I particularly enjoyed his accented voices such as the Irish brogue, the southern drawl, etc. However, I was still annoyed at the mispronunciation of certain proper names over and over. I cringed every time Harry Heth's name came up, and to a lesser extend, "Taneytown." Staunton was also mentioned once and became part of this annoyance. This is only a minor criticism, as I have found the same sort of mispronunciations in other audio books. But I did take a star away from the Performance rating (I wish I could have taken only half a star).

All in all, this story deserves a listen by anyone interested in the Civil War.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

A Better Way of Getting Things Done

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

Reviewed: 07-14-15

I am surprised at some of the reviews of this book. The definition of engineering can be "a calculated manipulation or direction" To me, the title does not suggest anything but what the author accomplishes in this book: a description and analysis of the major issues the allies had to overcome to achieve victory. It is not, as one reviewer mentioned, just another rehash of WW II.

I find that most wars and their component battles have been overly described (though I would except Rick Atkinson's from this). I can't even count the number of books describing the Battle of the Bulge and the Bastogne segment of it. I found this text to be a refreshing alternative to the typical descriptions. I suppose that you could just read it as another WW II book, but his description and analysis of the primary problems that the Allies had to find solutions to departs from the typical formula. As he says, the Germans didn't fail to try hard enough to win, but the Allies simply found "a better way of getting things done."

I also find that his frank and honest assessment of the uninspired, sometimes downright backward, thinking of the British and Americans almost brought about failure rather than victory.

I think that this book is an excellent read, and something different for anyone interested in the history of World War II.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

This is a worthwhile listen... with qualifications

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

Reviewed: 05-23-15

I can't see why anyone would pillory this book. It is well-written, but you have to approach it with some understanding.

First, I had to slow the speed down on this one. It listens like a speed-through, as if I was cramming for a history exam. If it is slowed down to .5, it is much more in the realm of a narration, and you can take in what is being said rather than focus on each word to make sure you get it.

Second, the book is written (I assume, since I don't have the book) more as a doctoral dissertation than a popular text. It was published by a university press, which by definition means it is going have an academic tone. This is by comparison with the work of an author like David McCullogh or David Hackett Fischer, who bring the personal experience of participants into the narrative. Their books are more toward an account of what happened and less of an analysis, although they do some of that as well.

Th advantage of the academic approach is that an author is able to deliver a lot more perspective as a more distant view of the history. For example, in a very concise segment of the chapter on 1775-1783, Black explains a view of the revolution from Europe, which was constantly in turmoil at that time. Why didn't Britain ally with other European countries to distract France from aiding the North American revolutionaries? This approach to the fight for North American is used throughout, so I learned many, many things that were not known to me previously.

Admittedly, I do love history, so I enjoy this approach. I rarely read fiction at all. So, someone who reads (or listens to) only an occasional historical narrative should probably stay away from this.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

I hate to heap more criticism, but...

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

Reviewed: 03-25-14

Would you listen to George Washington's Secret Six again? Why?

No. From the first sentence, I knew that the author's narration was going to be a problem for me. I really appreciate his enthusiasm for the story, and especially the discussions, but his method of making the story "live" removed me from the equation. That is, I did not have the opportunity to make the action fit my imagination, my perspective. What I want from a book reading is good, clear delivery of the text, not an interpretation from the narrator. You have some great narrators who could have done justice to the text as written. I forced my self to listen to about 1/3 of this before I just gave up and bought the book.

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

Nope, not unless he was willing to just narrate.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I'm afraid the book in it's entirety is too long. I often listen to books while I am working around the house or in my shop (using my smartphone), and that dictates the amount of time I spend at one sitting.

Any additional comments?

No need for more narrator bashing. I've made my point.