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Editorial Reviews

Why You Should Download This Audiobook: Hard to put into words the effect of this powerful historical novel. British author Louis de Bernieres has essentially created a world of vivid, finely drawn characters, whose simple lives will change irrevokably in the wake of World War I. Like the best novels based on real events, de Bernieres' Birds Without Wings enriches the listener's understanding of a period in history while revealing with great sensitivity the impact of terrible events on human lives.

Publisher's Summary

Birds Without Wings is the story of a small town in Anatolia in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire told in the richly varied voices of the men and women (Armenians, Christians, and Muslims) whose lives are intertwined and rooted there: Iskander, the potter and local fount of wisdom; Philotei, the Christian girl of legendary beauty, courted almost from infancy by Ibrahim the goatherd, a great love that culminates in tragedy and madness; and many more. When jihad is declared against the Franks and the young men of the town are conscripted, we follow Iskander's son, Karatavuk, to Gallipoli, where the intimate brutality of battle robs him of all innocence, just as the town he left behind is robbed of its centuries-old peace by the twin scourges of fanatical religion and nationalism that the war unleashed.
©2004 Louis de Bernieres; (P)2004 Books on Tape

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Get ready, it's a long book

Long, but lyrical and well written. If long, multi character books are your thing, you will enjoy. If not, be in the mood for this genre and you will enjoy the journey. The audible book was fantastic, the reader brought the personalities to life.

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  • Mrs
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 10-04-17

Wonderful

Saddened by the events of history and the cruelty of some individuals. I learned a lot about this period in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans. Terrible mistakes made by the powers that be.

  • Overall

Great

Loved every minute. Great narration. Fascinating history. Really a masterpiece. Relevant for this moment in history.

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  • Jennifer
  • Covington, GA, United States
  • 02-02-17

disappointing and depressing

Would you try another book from Louis de Bernieres and/or John Lee?

NO! He is way too dark and depressing. Now, John Lee is another story - marvelous narrator.

Has Birds Without Wings turned you off from other books in this genre?

The title should have given me a clue as to the theme of the book; however, I had hopes that I would learn things about this part of the world that I knew little of (I like historical fiction. This book is not representative of its genre.). Instead, the parts of the book (two of four) that I listened to seemed to me loosely connected stories of tragic lives and horrific events.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Sure, life is difficult for most folks and we all must pull ourselves up out of its hardships, but life is also beautiful and we should focus on its beauty. Focus instead on how do we make life more beautiful for ourselves and others.

Any additional comments?

The foreign names of characters and places, the foreign nouns for articles of clothing, dishes,and customs of the area, and the assumption that the reader (listener) was familiar with Muslim and Greek religion - all these make it difficult to follow. Maybe the hard copy has a glossary which would definitely help.

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Beautiful, Lyrical Story

Loved this book. The characters float around in my head and remind me of the universality of human existence. Such a clear window the author gives us into a place and I time I can only imagine. Narration is flawless.

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  • Ayala
  • oakland, CA, United States
  • 11-10-15

Strong start...

If you want to grow attached to quirky characters set in what we now know as Turkey and then listen to hours of their lives being ravaged by war, then this is for you. Provides interesting historical, cultural, and political background. Awesome performance. Ratio of peace to war was effectively oppressive.

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Too sad and beautiful

Thank you for this glorious telling of a glorious story. I am weeping as I finish it.

De bernieres is masterful as always

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  • Millard
  • Santa Rosa, CA, USA
  • 12-12-07

Birds Without Wings

A great combination of history and art. Some critics say, "He's not Tolstoy".
True enough. Why should he be? But he's just as interesting with that wonderful reader. Highly recommended.

  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Marietta, GA, United States
  • 01-31-07

A masterpiece

This haunting, stirring, frightening and sometimes hilarious epic is a perfect fit for Audible. The story is so intensely human, the period characters so vivid, I listened to it over a year ago and I'm listening to it again. The content of the novel provides a real education for ill-educated Americans in a manner that is provocative, exciting and endlessly entertaining.

  • Overall

Simply the best

This marvelous book kept me enthralled. The characters are fully developed - I felt as if I knew them, and I deeply cared about them. The narration is superb and adds greatly to the feeling of personal intimacy with each character. The historical sweep is grand, covering the period immediately before the first world war and continuing to well after, paralleling the rise of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, whose biography is interwined throughout. I am sorry that the story has come to an end. My only question: when will Audible offer another of Louis de Berniere's books to its listeners?