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If you like historical non-fiction about interesting expeditions, this should be a good listen (I read the paper version). Lt. Wilkes is a classic flawed leader, aloof, somewhat cruel, but his determination drove his crew on a great voyage though he struggled for notoriety. The amazing collection of artifacts that Wilkes brought home formed the foundation of the Smithsonian collection. I really like the detail of maritime life circa 1840, and Philbrick delivers. His writing makes even provisioning ships interesting. His previous book "Heart of the Sea" was a bit more gripping (albeit more harsh), but "Sea of Glory" is a very good book by a great historical writer.
19 of 20 people found this review helpful
The Good – I am amazed that I never had heard of the ExEx before this book. Very disappointed in our public education system for that. From a purely historic point of view I liked the book. I liked learning about the expedition because I needed to learn about something so monumental. I made a few book marks for reference that I can return to later, but overall the book just didn’t give me what I had expected.
The Not So Good – To be fair I’m going to have to give this book a second listen, but on first pass it just lacks something. The book told a lot of the human stories, but didn’t tell much of the science stories at least not in much detail. The author went through great pains to explain in telling detail why a certain officer did a certain thing, but he didn’t go into much story telling about the science discoveries. This really didn’t strike me until the end of the book where he listed the hundreds of samples the expedition brought back with them. It left me saying; “why didn’t you tell more about those samples and how and where they came from?" I'm not sure if I should follow that question with an "ugh!" or a "duh!"?
The Narration - Scott Brick is one of my favorite narrators, but for some reason I don’t think he was the right fit for this particular book’s writing style. Not that it was bad by any measure, but I think someone with a deeper voice and slower cadence could have made the book more interesting? Perhaps a Brit don't you know? Although I’m sure someone would take umbrage to that given the national pride of the subject matter.
The Overall – Sea of Glory is okay and was fairly good overall. I definitely learned something, which I always appreciate. I will listen to it again to see if I missed something that would push my rating a bit higher, but I'm not sure that will happen. In closing, I’m not disappointed by the book, but I’m not overjoyed by it either.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful