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Publisher's Summary

A visionary exploration of the life and times of Joseph Conrad, his turbulent age of globalization, and our own, from one of the most exciting young historians writing today

Migration, terrorism, the tensions between global capitalism and nationalism, and a communications revolution: These forces shaped Joseph Conrad's destiny at the dawn of the 20th century. In this brilliant new interpretation of one of the great voices in modern literature, Maya Jasanoff reveals Conrad as a prophet of globalization. As an immigrant from Poland to England, and in travels from Malaya to Congo to the Caribbean, Conrad navigated an interconnected world and captured it in a literary oeuvre of extraordinary depth. His life story delivers a history of globalization from the inside out and reflects powerfully on the aspirations and challenges of the modern world.

Joseph Conrad was born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski in 1857, to Polish parents in the Russian Empire. At 16 he left the landlocked heart of Europe to become a sailor and for the next 20 years travelled the world's oceans before settling permanently in England as an author. He saw the surging, competitive "new imperialism" that planted a flag in almost every populated part of the globe. He got a close look, too, at the places "beyond the end of telegraph cables and mail-boat lines", and the hypocrisy of the West's most cherished ideals.

In a compelling blend of history, biography, and travelogue, Maya Jasanoff follows Conrad's routes and the stories of his four greatest works - The Secret Agent, Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness, and Nostromo. Genre-bending, intellectually thrilling, and deeply humane, The Dawn Watch embarks on a spellbinding expedition into the dark heart of Conrad's world - and through it to our own.

©2017 Maya Jasanoff (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Enlightening, compassionate, superb." (John Le Carré)

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Mixup

Is this a retrospective political criticism of “capitalism” (which apparently refers to all dishonesty and theft, by any and all) or a literary study of JC? All this Panama Canal expose. I suspect a lot of wishful thinking in the phrase “Conrad thought.”
“Every Colombian knew ....”
Come on!

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Poor Narration Mars Excellent Book

What made the experience of listening to The Dawn Watch the most enjoyable?

Excellent biography of fascinating subject.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Conrad himself, of course.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Laurel Lekfow?

Many narrators would have been better than Laurel Lekfow. She is amateurish and not suited to the subject, and her reading is marred by mispronunciation of words such as "executor" and "ensign."

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

No. The failings of the narrator actually made it painful to listen to.

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Disappointing account of JC's ties to history

If you know nothing about the origins of the Panama Canal, the Belgian Congo or other leading events of the late 19th- early 20th century -- you may find this book fascinating. Author's account of Conrad's early life in Poland and England are also worth reading. But too much of The Dawn Watch is a predictable rehash of familiar historical patterns of a century ago. Narration is also lackluster; often failing to slow down or emphasize key points. Lefkow also butchers Spanish language words in Latin American chapters. Would it hurt to use narrators who know, at least, how to pronounce key foreign words in these books?