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J. A. Wilson

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The Looming Tower audiobook cover art

A Solid, Boring History of Al-Qaeda

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

Reviewed: 04-09-18

Apparently the only interesting thing Osama Bin Laden ever did was blow up the World Trade Center. Apart from that, his life appears to have been a series of rather uninteresting domestic disputes, moves from one country to another and tedious wrangles with government leaders. I am not going to complain about Wright not making up interesting incidents to entertain his readers, but I still have to say that the facts he presents do not make for a riveting read.

The end of the book veers away from Bin Laden's humdrum lifestyle to cover the somewhat more interesting affairs of an FBI Agent who was trying to catch him, but even this wasn't enough to hold my interest.

It's Superman! audiobook cover art

Tries Too Hard

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

Reviewed: 09-28-16

This is a very different version of a Superman origin story, the twist being that it is set in a realistic version of the 1930s. And, boy, is this novel set in the 1930s. There are books written IN the 1930s, written ABOUT the 1930s that are not set in the 1930s nearly as much as this book is. You could pick up "The Grapes of Wrath" after reading this book and you'd say, "Gee, I wonder what decade this novel is set in? I can't tell, because Steinbeck doesn't mention Benny Goodman every three f---ing pages."

It is obvious that Tom De Haven did a tremendous amount of research about the 1930's before writing this book. But it would have been better if he had left some of out. He name-checks nearly every celebrity who lived during the period. This gets annoying early on and become intolerable later. Plot points and character backgrounds frequently exist for the sole purpose of dropping the names of minor jazz players or historical personages from the WPA. There is a minor plot-line in "It's Superman" about people going around the country to write a travel guide and this is very much what "It's Superman" is------ a travel guide to the United States in the 1930s, with lots and lots of local color.

The actual Superman story here IS intermittently interesting. But there just isn't very much of it. This book is more interested in 1930's music than it is in the characters of Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. As a result it never really comes together into a coherent novel.

Scott Brick gives a pretty good read. He does great 1930's characterizations.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich audiobook cover art

Could Not Get Through It

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

Reviewed: 09-27-16

This is a classic history of the origins of World War Two, with lots of first-hand insight from the author, who was a journalist in Europe at the time. The performance is good and the subject matter is interesting, but you might want to ask yourself if you *really* want to listen to a sixty hour audiobook about diplomatic negotiation. I did not think I would have any problem with it----- I like long histories on audio and had just finished reading Shirer's other long book "Collapse of the Third Republic", which I enjoyed.

But I found "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" extremely tedious and gave up on it about 30 hours in. Part of the problem may be that there is a lot of boring background information early on. Long sections about the early history of the Nazi party and the development of Aryan racial theory which you might skim rapidly through on the page become, in an audiobook, multi-hour long lectures piped into your ear in. I found it hard to take even while cycling.

There's a lot a good information here. There's nothing wrong with the performance. I just did not find it worthwhile in audiobook form.

The Aeronaut's Windlass audiobook cover art

Not Butcher's Best Work, but Good Performance

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

Reviewed: 10-24-15

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Would not recommend it. The story is weak and the characters quite bland.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The airship battles are interesting. The plodding investigation and character development scenes are very rote and by the numbers.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

I did not care for Morton's voice at first, but got used to it. His characterizations are excellent however, especially Folly. His acting for Rowl is the only thing that makes an otherwise unbearable character bearable.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful