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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
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Critic Reviews

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

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Elizabeth on 11-29-17

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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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Darwin8u on 01-13-18

History is like therapy for the present

"History is like therapy for the present: it makes it talk about its parents."
- Maya Jasanoff, The Dawn Watch

I should admit I was attracted to the book, while browsing at Las Vegas' fantastic bookstore Writers Block by four things: 1. the art (done by the Bill Bragg), 2. the le Carré blurb (if you don't know, late le Carré has a heavy Conrad flavor, 3. Conrad himself. I've read about 2/3 of what he has produced and love him more with every word, 4. the concept of Conrad as the dawn watch of globalization, and perhaps even modernity. The book was brisk, interesting, and filled with enough Conrad prose to almost dance. Jasanoff's writing is meant more for the New York Times Magazine crowd than the academic crowd, but if you enjoy Conrad this book will not disappoint. It isn't brilliant history or biography, but she manages to blend the edges of history, biography, and literary analysis and keep all three balls afloat. No easy feat. She is also able to thread the needle between cutting Conrad too much slack and too little for his views. Also, no easy feat.

For me Conrad is one of the great writers of the late 19th, early 20th century. He enchants and haunts at the same time. He is a fascinating character, but more than that, he is a damn fine complicated writer. Jasanoff explores Conrad's world, and in this exploration, she attempts to show us another way to view our own. "In all his writing", says Jasanoff, "Conrad grappled with the ramifications of living in a global world: the moral and material impact of dislocation, the tension and opportunity of multiethnic societies, the disruption wrought by technological change." Conrad understood us before there really was an us. Conrad saw us before the sun had even risen on the 20th and 21st centuries.

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11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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