- helpful votes
I enjoyed this very much. The interviews were good (although a few were poor audio quality). It is always easier to like a book when the general position is in agreement with your own. His observations on history are informative although not always the way I look at them. Durrant has a very materialistic (non-spiritual) prism he looks though, but the interesting thing is that it leads him to many of the same conclusions that a more spiritual person would draw. I think the most fascinating aspect is his obvious conversion from a socialistic perspective to a more devine perspective (although not necessarily supporting or believing in God, he supports man's needs for such a concept). A good listen - even the second time through.
If your are looking for something thought provoking that will stir your mind and create new resolve, you can do a lot better with other books (Jim Rohn comes to mind). This book is short and is mostly rah rah cheerleading to try to get you motivated. He continuosly asks the audience to say things out loud or to the person sitting next to them - I suppose trying to create positive energy by verbalizing concepts. If you need a little push this book is fine. If you are looking for answers or insights this isn't going to do it.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
WIll leave a lasting impact
I had never read this book before, nor much of Dickens writings so I didn't know what to expect. The story line is a little hard to follow since the book is so verbose, and sometimes the long dialogs are very delicate and subtle, leaving me to wonder if I really understood what the author intended. I normally rewind 30 seconds to 1 minute to catch something I missed, but with this book you have to rewind about 5 minutes-worth to find the beginning of the thought, so I found that I just let it go and moved on.
The narrator is amazing and nearly acts out the parts. He has unique accents for each character. It was his accents that helped me keep the characters straight in my mind. 5 stars for the narrator.
The highlight of this book for me is that this is a literary work of art. Dickens is a master craftsman of the language. It is like sitting back listening to a symphony, bathing yourself in the rich full sound of the music. Even if you can't follow the melody, the sound still envelops you and carries you away.
The book certainly gets 5 stars, but for me, the audio format, even with a great narration, makes it hard to capture the full impact of this book. If you want the full impact, you should probably go with the print version.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Not high on my list of history books
I had high hopes for this book. Grant was a major figure in US history. I listened to both part 1 and part 2 and it never developed into anything interesting. Both parts were just a travelogue of daily activity. The books were almost completely devoid of personal insight and reflection that would give me a deeper understanding of what made the man tick. There were several funny and interesting stories, but 90% of the book was about troop movements and small skirmishes. My opinion is that unless you are really into military history, you will find this book rather uneventful. Check out "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" if you have not already read it - far more interesting and entertaining.
3 of 7 people found this review helpful
This was a fantastic book and has become my favorite in its category. Ann Coulter wishes she could write a book this powerful. It is done in an even handed presentation of European positions that fanatically attack the USA unfairly. Like most books, I'm sure there are generalizations to help make certain points, but there are so many anti-US contradictions presented that you just have to shake your head at the ignorance and blindness of the European media and leadership. There is a lot of truth in this book that hits you right in the face. Quite entertaining, although the generous vocabulary used in a concise format makes the audible version hard to grasp at times. I found myself rewinding many times because the pace of the information was at times too rapid to savor some of the stinging truths.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Challenged my way of thinking
This was a very interesting book. I'm kind of anti-news media, since they always seem to leave you with the impression that the world is a terrible place and that everything is getting worse. This book is filled with facts that make you realize that most things are much better than they have been at any previous time in world history. It was refreshing in that regard.
However, in the middle of the book he launches a tirade against SUV's and how wasteful and horrible they are. I was thinking, huh? Where did that come from? Most cars are more economical these days, why is he focusing on the exceptions now? It was just the beginning... He goes on to plug universal healthcare, ending poverty, class envy, and protecting the environment. All classic liberal causes. I could spend time picking apart the biased way he uses statistics to make some of his points, but I'll leave that to you.
It dawned on me that he was using our unprecedented prosperity to shame people into solving these problems. At the same time I was objecting to where he was going, I was also asking myself, is he wrong? Well, no, these problems need solving (ignoring the hysteria around the causes). The dangerous aspect of the book is that it does not address what method should be used to solve these problems. Many people will look to government to solve the issues, which I think the dangerous aspect of this book. He makes clear points for market economics and interfering with these principles would be detrimental. In my philosophy, charity is a principle of the heart, not a government program.
Overall this is a good read and will challenge both conservatives and liberals alike, not to mention those "glass half empty" folks.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
History that reads like a novel
After hearing the first few chapters, I realized I was in for more than I wanted. I thought the book would start back in ancient times and cover the big picture historically. I realized that this book was starting in the 1940's for the most part. 23.5 hours of modern history!? The first few days of listening on my commute, I kept thinking, who cares about all these details? The amount of detail is amazing, but who could remember all these names and places? After a few days, I realized how hooked I was. The narrator does a great job and gives you the feeling he was there watching it all happen. You'll get pulled into the story (although it is hard to keep track of all the names).
The book is very engrossing and I find myself wondering why the author would write such tragic outcomes. Where is the hero with guns blazing comming to save the day? I have to keep reminding myself that this was all real, not fiction.
This also seems very unbiased, as hard as that is to do. At times you think the author is on the side of the Jews, and then later it seems that he is pulling for the Arabs. The author presents both side as very human, with real emotions. You'll feel the loss of people on both sides, and wonder at the stupidity of both sides.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This was a very informative and enjoyable book to listen to. Very well narrated. I didn't want it to end (lucky there is a part 2)! The perspective seems fairly balanced in presenting who he was. This is highly recommended for anyone intersted in American History or even U.S. natural history.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Worth a listen
This was not easy to listen to. I found myself tuning out frequently and had to rewind many times to grasp what was being said. The writing style is a far cry from John Adams which really draws you in. I was very interested to find out more about Ben Franklin which made the book enjoyable. However if you don't have some true determination to lean about Benjamin, you'll find this book less than satisfying. The 3 stars are for the content and research. Writing style gets about 1 1/2 stars.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful