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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-01-18


Wonderful prose, of course. The portraits of the astronauts and test pilots are perfect. Quaid’s reading is almost uniformly wonderful. A couple of odd pronunciations and other quirks. I think he really gets Wolfe’s voice though.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-27-18

The Beauty of Randomness

It’s refreshing to encounter a mind like this. Every few minutes there is another gem of a thought, and I suspect a subsequent reading will be rewarding.

The reading is decent; I actually liked how the reader approached things like scare quotes. But his voice was just a shade monotonous. This book benefited from sped up playback.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-27-17

Popular science

The author does an excellent job of presenting scientific facts in a compelling and untechnical way. Fascinating book. Especially good as a follow up to Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers.

Unfortunately Epstein is not the best reader of his own work, but it didn't affect the book's page-turner status.

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-24-17

Some greatness, but much frustration

I love the idea of this book. And Follett is a good enough writer that a book longer than 40 hours about a building project manages to entertain. But there are so many irritating things about this book. The good characters all take a twentieth-century skeptical view of religion or at least a very modernist view of Christianity, while the bad have a cartoonish and superstitious faith. There is some appallingly bad sacramental theology, and almost nothing that would explain why people were devoted to the liturgy that actually took place in these cathedrals. The atheist's pen shows through too much. Set next to really great works of medieval historical fiction like Kristen Lavransdatter, I'm afraid it doesn't stand up at all. The really interesting comparison is with Umberto Eco, another skeptic who wrote about medieval monks; I certainly think Eco gets inside their minds and their hearts more.

In some other ways, I think the book does a good job of depicting medieval life. He certainly nails the nasty, brutish, and short side of things. And I'm in awe that a secularist would be so moved by the power of the gothic cathedral to commit to a project like this. This is the first book by Follett that I have read, and I would be willing to read more, especially the ones set in modern times. I'm not in a hurry to continue the trilogy right now, though I may get to those books eventually.

I tend to like John Lee's reading, but as with other books of his I find he benefits from a faster playback.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-27-17

Wonderfully Entertaining

Fans of Stephenson's books (and I am very much one of these) should be happy. Many of the themes of earlier books recur here. The pace of the action and the quick turn of the story in an unexpected direction reminds me especially of Reamde. The prose is very good; it makes me want to find more of Nicole Galland's work. The narration by the full cast is generally good, with some of the usual problems around accents.

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-11-17

Bravo Anton Lesser

Dickens is always worth reading of course. This is some of the liveliest and best narration I have heard on audible. It is very enjoyable to listen to such good reading.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-19-17

Not for the faint of heart

Such a beautiful writer. So wonderfully narrated. Such a profound and unsentimental exploration of grace. Also shocking, sickening, heartbreaking. Worth a read.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-30-16

Excellent Narrative History

Paul Johnson writes beautifully, and he covers all of the periods with his usual wit and intelligence. As with other books, I'm frequently amazed at his erudition and always enthralled by his prose. He does not hide his opinions for objectivity's sake. And especially in the twentieth century, his opinions often run quite contrary to the conventional wisdom. He lionizes Nixon, for instance. He does always back up his opinions with solid argumentation, so it is up to the reader to accept these or not.

Nadia May (one of a few names) is always good. Some people seem to find her voice off-putting. I have listened to several long books with her reading and always enjoyed them. Her few slips are hiliarious (she pronounces Schuylkill a few different ways, but never even close to correctly; also she reads Apollo 11 at "Apollo Two") but to be expected in a book of this length.

Overall, highly recommended as a broad narrative overview of American History from a somewhat right-of-center perspective.

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-02-16

Not a good pick for audio

There is plenty of interest here for math lovers. I'm a pure amateur in this field and it's a pretty good and well-written introduction.

In audio format it suffers from the text's reliance on the figures. This makes listening in the car or while doing other tasks less rewarding. Also I found the reading tedious and occasionally unwittingly comic. The reader mispronounced "Herodotus" and "learned," for instance.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-30-16


Any reader of the Silmarillion will recognize Tolkien in his elevated mode. Christopher Tolkien has done an excellent job editing this: the result is a coherent, beautiful narrative of one of the most memorable and tragic stories from the mythology of Middle Earth. The narration is superb; perfectly captures the heightened heroic prose.

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