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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of 20th-century literature - a chilling and still-provocative look at a postapocalyptic future.

In a nightmarish, ruined world, slowly awakening to the light after sleeping in darkness, the infantile rediscoveries of science are secretly nourished by cloistered monks dedicated to the study and preservation of the relics and writings of the blessed Saint Isaac Leibowitz. From there, the story spans centuries of ignorance, violence, and barbarism, viewing through a sharp, satirical eye the relentless progression of a human race damned by its inherent humanness to recelebrate its grand foibles and repeat its grievous mistakes.

Seriously funny, stunning, tragic, eternally fresh, imaginative, and altogether remarkable, A Canticle for Leibowitz retains its ability to enthrall and amaze. It is now, as it always has been, a masterpiece.

©1959 Walter M. Miller, Jr. (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Chillingly effective.” (Time)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Story

Three stories in one and no climax

Religion persists along side mythology not very dystopian. It sounds very 1950's culturally. Not even one strong protagonist the only up side was the narrator.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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A bit disjoint

I did struggle to finish this book. I'm a big fan of dystopian novels. And there were elements that were quite unique to this story that were enjoyable. In the end however, it lacked cohesion , and the story became cumbersome and confusing.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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not as good as I remembered. I think I was 12.

in 1964. this seemed profound. now jejune . it has not aged well.
have I

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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And the world goes on

A cyclical story of a post apocalyptic Renaissance. difficult to read at the beginning but picked up by the end.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Classic SF Hugo winner

I know this book is one of the most acclaimed novels that SF has to offer, but it just didn't work for me. I was really involved in the story at first, but when the main characters changed and the action jumped​ forward several hundred years, it just lost me. I know this is a fix-up novel and many people have enjoyed it as such, it just was not my cup of tea. I found the first third of the book to be engaging and when everything switched I just lost interest. I finished reading it for posterity sake, to make sure that I wasn't missing anything, but I kind of wish I hadn't.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Not what I had expected or hoped for.

This is one of those books that has been on my reading list for a very long time. Unfortunately, it's one that I will not ever have any desire to re-listen/read. I grant that maybe I don't fully understand it. I will endeavor to do some research and read analyses to see if there's something I can glean.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • richard
  • Arlington, VA, United States
  • 03-20-13

Introibo Ad Altare

One of the landmark jewels of science fiction, Walter Miller's Canticle will be, for some readers of a certain age, a treat for the ear, the heart, and the soul. However, so much has changed since the author crafted this work, e.g., the thaw of the Cold War, the disappearance of Latin since the Second Vatican Council in 1965, and the steep decine of the Catholic Church with its rigors and obedience, that many of the central premises and conceits of the book simply no longer commonly exist today. For me, the book was as fresh as when I read it in 1967 as a high school student. I hope that a younger audience enjoys it as much as I have.

Warning: There is a LOT of Latin in this work. This could make it difficult to parse as an audio experience unless you have a pretty good grounding in this tongue. You might want to get the kindle text to read with it. I think you will find it to be worth your while.

98 of 104 people found this review helpful

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Good at the beginning...

I really liked the idea and the content of the first 2 segments. But the story felt too disconnected as we went further into the future. I was just getting into the characters and plot and then... WHAM... a new time, new characters, new problems, etc. It had references to the characters and story of the previous time, but not enough for me to feel it was a continuing story line. I'll be honest. I totally zoned out by the middle of act three. I just kept looking at how much time was left with each listen. The writing was good and the narration was really well done and I listened at 1.5X speed comfortably to save time. If any of this was helpful, please click YES below. Later.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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didnt know that I needed to understand latin

Ok plot but all the untranslated latin pulled me out of it too often. Not a fan myself but if you are enough of a scholar to get the latin, then perhaps it would be more enjoyable.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Roundabout and convoluted

I understand this is ahead of its time. I'm told it is a classic. I found it a bit hum drum. Maybe I'm jaded. I finished but several times I wasn't sure I would.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • TREVOR
  • 06-11-14

Very Badly Read

What would have made A Canticle for Leibowitz better?

A good reader was needed. Mr Weiner read it with as much feeling as reading as if it was a Seed Catalogue.

What didn’t you like about Tom Weiner’s performance?

Almost everything was wrong. He had no expression in his voice nor was he able to differentiate between characters in the book for the listener. He spoilt a very good novel.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

This is a book I enjoyed immensely some years ago. I was looking forward to hearing it as an audio cd. It is a great Sci Fi Novel.

Any additional comments?

I am so disappointed that a very good novel, one I had enjoyed reading in the past, was spoilt by very bad reading. Lesson to be learnt - always hear a sample before you buy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jamie Goode
  • 04-26-17

really enjoyed this.

really enjoyed this. ment to be the inspiration for the fallout franchise and you can really see it.

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  • Annie Smith
  • 10-01-16

Dear oh dear.

What would have made A Canticle for Leibowitz better?

If it had never been written

Has A Canticle for Leibowitz put you off other books in this genre?

Yep, dreadful book.

What didn’t you like about Tom Weiner’s performance?

Unconvincing.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Canticle for Leibowitz?

The lot!

Any additional comments?

I'm probably far to unkind about this book, but honestly I was expecting something to happen and I don't think it ever did.

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  • decco999
  • 02-21-16

Great Writing and Perfect Narration

This is the story of Earth, North America specifically, after a future war and how civilisation might shape and rebuild itself in its aftermath. It is told from the perspective of the occupants of a religious monastery over incremental periods of time, stretching many hundreds of years, starting in a pre-technological age and progressing to a highly industrial society. Sure, there is a close enough similarity between this fictional advancement as recounted by the author and what really occurred in our own history, with Mr Miller providing some rationalisation in respect of the good and the bad that befall the main characters.

I didn’t know what to expect when I purchased this book, other than it came highly recommended, and noting that it was published in 1959. What the reader gets is a witty, gripping, fast paced novel; a real page-turner that is perfectly narrated. Certainly, the author’s own religious beliefs and political opinions leak through at certain points, but not in a heavy-handed way. Although the sequel to this book, written 36-years later mind you, has not been received as warmly, I thoroughly recommend A Canticle for Leibowitz to anyone seeking light, enjoyable entertainment.

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  • Roderic
  • 07-11-15

Disappointing and dated

This book is three loosely related short stories jammed together fairly roughly (which is historical fact, not my opinion). The tone of the stories is rather ponderous, which does not make for interesting or lively listening.

It IS an interesting artefact of Sci Fi history... as a post nuclear apocalypse tale from the late 1950s. My Latin is actually quite good, but not adequate to understand much of the Latin statements in the book when spoken (as opposed to seen).

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  • Mr. S. Mould
  • 06-09-14

Loved it

Where does A Canticle for Leibowitz rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It was the first one I downloaded with my initial free credit and it is still the best I've listened to.

What other book might you compare A Canticle for Leibowitz to, and why?

Any of those genre of sci-fi books that I call post-apocalytica. So Earth Abides by George R. Stweart or I Am Legend by Richard Matheson but also future history novels like H.G. Wells the time machine or Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon.

Have you listened to any of Tom Weiner’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I haven't heard anything else he's done but I would certainly like to.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The end of brother Francis' story made me gasp.

Any additional comments?

I love this book. Despite spanning many centuries and dealing with big issues, it manages to be about individual characters wants and needs. One of those rare Sci-Fi pieces that combines the cerebral with the personal successfully.

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  • Keith Mason
  • 05-22-14

Those who don't learn from histories mistakes

If you could sum up A Canticle for Leibowitz in three words, what would they be?

Original, cautionary and brave

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the unusual fact that this story doesn't take place during one setting but over a period of time thats set in the future but features settings that can be considered ancient, medieval and futuristic. In some ways its tragic but talks about human nature in a way that often makes people uncomfortable.

Any additional comments?

I think its refreshing to find a book in a sci-fi setting that incorporates sincere religious belief not just as a feature but as a central tenant to the novel.

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  • Tamra
  • 06-29-13

The Best Author Ever.

Would you listen to A Canticle for Leibowitz again? Why?

I've listened to it several times and have even about a copy of the book. This book is a poem to the circular nature of humanity. A prophetic testament to our desire to control the cataclysmic power of physics and its inevitable triumph over us.

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  • David
  • 04-08-13

A true sci-fi great

Walter Miller's Canticle for Leibowitz stands as tall as anything produced by Arthur C. Clarke or Azimov. The post description of post-deluge America and the reconstruction of education draws on obvious historical parallels. It also points out the church's manipulative and controlling attitude by seeking to rule through fear; much as it did in the middle ages. A great novel, full of allegory and meaning (and some humour!)

Highly recommended.

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  • Mark
  • 06-11-13

Over hyped

I went into this Audiobook thinking I was in for a real treat. In reality I found it incredibly slow and difficult going. It is a very interesting concept and I can understand why so many people rate it highly. However, I would suggest that you don't raise your expectations too high, as you may then get more out of it than I did.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • 12-14-16

Follow The Marked Path..

Based on a commonly known "yarn" this story outlines a possible scenario for ongoing religious belief based on the events of an apocalyptic world event and post apocalyptic interpretations of events..
worth the read..

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dominic
  • 04-06-17

Past, Present and Future Apocalypse

What did you like most about A Canticle for Leibowitz?

it is almost 60 years old but its message is never so timely, crucial and urgent.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Canticle for Leibowitz?

The final chapter and pages were spellbinding and almost peotic

What about Tom Weiner’s performance did you like?

A very versatile voice

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Brother Francis's journey

Any additional comments?

A great and grand & deeply disturbing sci fi saga of apocalyptic past, present and future...a bleak, nihilistic dystopian story, often mixed with philosophy, spirituality, flashes of joy and happiness, dark humour and sardonic wisdom....first published in 1959-1960, the technology is dated but the message and theme are as crucial and urgent as ever. The somewhat long winded Latinisms and Catholicisms, were a little tiring, even for an ex Catholic Latin scholar like me, and parts of the plot superfluous or overly symbolic. Overall, however, a magnificent story...and a damningly powerful polemic against the absolute and almost endless myopic stupidity and cruelty of mankind.....

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