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Publisher's Summary

Break out the TV dinners! From the author who gave us Cod, Salt, and other informative bestsellers, the first biography of Clarence Birdseye, the eccentric genius inventor whose fast-freezing process revolutionized the food industry and American agriculture.

©2012 Mark Kurlansky (P)2012 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Kurlansky brings Birdseye to life.... Covering the science behind Birdseye's... inventions along with intimate details of his family life, [he] skillfully weaves a fluid narrative of facts on products, packaging, and marketing into this rags-to-riches portrait of the man whose ingenuity brought revolutionary changes to 20th-century life." (Publishers Weekly, starred)
"Kurlansky tells the exciting tale of Birdseye’s adventures, failures and successes (he became a multi-millionaire) and his family, and he also offers engaging snippets about Velveeta, dehydration and Grape-Nuts. The author notes that Birdseye knew that curiosity is 'one essential ingredient' in a fulfilling life; it is a quality that grateful readers also discover in each of Kurlansky’s books." (Kirkus Reviews, starred)
"Kurlansky’s narrative gifts shine through every chapter." (Booklist)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I just couldn't get past the narrator

What would have made Birdseye better?

Anyone who has listened to Cod, or Salt, knows what a good Kurlansky narrator sounds like. I don't want to sound mean, but I found myself flipping it off, because of the narration. Pauses and breaks in mid sentence, gasps for air, flat toned vocals, deadpan. It felt like they grabbed a guy off the street with dyslexia and asked him to narrate a book. I made it 1/4 way and deleted it out of frustration.I bet the book is good, but the audio one stinks!

Would you be willing to try another book from Mark Kurlansky? Why or why not?

I highly recommend Salt and Cod, more entertaining books by Kurlansky.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jon Van Ness’s performances?

Not for all the tea in china. He has narrated only one book in his life, and that's one too many.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

A Great Story That's True and Motivational

When I first started this book I didn't think I would like it. Kurlansky can be a little long winded. But it gets better and better as it goes along and I really loved it.

I not only found the history of the man and frozen foods to be very interesting, but also motivational. Birdseye really dug in and made his ideas a reality.

There's a great lesson for us all. Ideas are great but action makes things happen.

Great story, well read, fun and motivational.

Get it all right here!

Chris Reich, TeachU

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

For the Curious Man a story about a Curious Man

If you could sum up Birdseye in three words, what would they be?

Interesting, stimulating, inspiring

Who was your favorite character and why?

Mr. Birdseye!

Which character – as performed by Jon Van Ness – was your favorite?

na

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

Not possible

Any additional comments?

The part of the title that says “adventures of a curious man” caught my attention. Without knowing anything more about the “Birdseye” name than I see it on frozen vegetable boxes, I figured that this book would either be a total sleeper or a complete bore and I would move on after 50 pages. The former proved to be true. If you are curious type of person yourself, or have a yearn for adventure, you will enjoy this book. Mr. Birdseye led a life of unbelievable adventure. While in the process of satisfying his curiosity, it led him to invent and produce countless products, start businesses, and become quite a highly respected and renowned person in numerous fields around the world during his lifetime. In the process of telling the story you’ll hear about many of the other inventors from that great time when America was still young and anything was possible. I am quite glad a read, or, uh “heard” the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Birdseye - one step too far for Kurlansky

I love Kurlansky's books.

I read Cod when it first came out and I loved that some guy had taken something like a fish and written a clever and informative book about such a seemingly prosaic commodity.

I then listened to Salt via Audible. I enjoyed it, and could see how Kurlansky's interest in salt would probably have been piqued by what he found out while writing Cod.

So I bought Birdseye. I can see how Krulansky's interest would have been piqued in Birdseye whilst writing either book, but, as interesting as Birdseye's story is, it is just one step too far removed from the main theme somehow.

I enjoyed it, it finished it (there are others that I have not, so this says something) but I wouldn't really recommend it unless one didn't really have anything else to read / listen to. In that case, it is a reasonably interesting way to fill some time.

And yes, as a previous reviewer has mentioned, the narrator is not all that one might hope for.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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"Birdseye" worth a listen

I've listened to other Mark Kurlansky books and admire his single-mindedness. Really admire that he elevated a truly forgotten inventor and eccentric to a biography-worthy subject. The "inventor" of flash-frozen foods has changed out world dramatically and made us all part of an international food marketplace, yet he is forgotten.

Fascinating story, but I have to say Kurlansky really just went through the paces. I wonder if he got a bit bored by his subject at some point. Jon Van Ness's narration is also off - stilted and lacking in continuity.

All that said, what a great story of a great, long-lost American!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Better options available

this was the first audio book that I listened to. at the time, I thought it was okay, but after listening to other audio books, I think there are much better options available.

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Kind of a light-weight

Would you try another book from Mark Kurlansky and/or Jon Van Ness?

I liked Kurlansky's other books, but this one didn't have much meat to it and the story didn't hold my interest like his others did. It felt like it could/should have been a Kindle Single.

Would you recommend Birdseye to your friends? Why or why not?

No, it was good enough, but it wasn't worth the money.

What aspect of Jon Van Ness’s performance would you have changed?

The flow of his reading was off at times -- the pauses and inflections not quite on the mark.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Douglas
  • Omaha, NE, United States
  • 06-04-12

"Birdseye" worth a listen

I've listened to other Mark Kurlansky books and admire his single-mindedness. Really admire that he elevated a truly forgotten inventor and eccentric to a biography-worthy subject. The "inventor" of flash-frozen foods has changed out world dramatically and made us all part of an international food marketplace, yet he is forgotten.

Fascinating story, but I have to say Kurlansky really just went through the paces. I wonder if he got a bit bored by his subject at some point. Jon Van Ness's narration is also off - stilted and lacking in continuity.

All that said, what a great story of a great, long-lost American!

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