I embarked on listening to this epic and well-researched book on the history of civilisation with some trepidation. There are after all, a total of 92 Chapters (26.5 hours) to work through and this is a formidable listening marathon by any stretch of the imagination. However, I found them all totally worth the effort. I am pleased Andrew Marr opened the narration by lending his voice to the introduction. This is a very expansive work as Mr. Marr draws references to a research base of some 2,000 or so books. In addittion, David Timson's highly expressive narration that followed is clear, assertive and a joy to listen to as it is consistenly intonated throughout without ever being condescending. You don't have to be a professional historian to appreciate the amount of effort that has gone into producing this book and the (at times) rather violent TV series to which this is a perfect accompaniment. The passion for the subject, dedication and commitment shine through at all times and for me, this is a notable quality of the book. Overall, a highly recommended purchase indeed which takes pride of place on my Audible bookshelf!
On the whole, I really enjoyed the content of this audio book - it was both educational and captivating. Michael Wood presents a rich, well-researched and colourful epic history of this vast country and clearly knows his subject matter.
However, I felt at times that the audio book did not make the best use of the sound medium and could have been improved in the following ways:
1. Maybe Michael could have introduced the audio book. This would have added a lot more weight and credibility to the recording.
2. In my opinion, the narrator Sam Dastor's expressive performance would have benefited from an additional Indian voice actor reading those parts of the text that required a native Indian accent.
3. With the introduction of some music clips and sound effects - maybe sourced from the excellent and celebrated BBC TV series? This would have greatly enhanced the otherwise excellent narration.
It's not often that you come across an author in Audible who reads their entire work with such spirit, courage and conviction. I was lucky enough to have been born there so can appreciate different people's points of view.
In this recording, Adele Barker presents a vivid journal of her time in a beautiful island at a time of relative demographic tensions. The running theme of this recording is not so much on political events that plagued the island for so many years but the humanity and interactions of those that lived there - particularly in the wake of the devastating Tsunami of 26th December 2004. The descriptions of how people lost their lives in the Tsunami are particularly harrowing to listen to.
Whilst I would have preferred a lot more emphasis on the gentle religious and traditional aspects of the island as well as its humble islanders - particularly now that the civil war has thankfully ended - her account is honest and vivid and deserves every one of the five stars awarded.
I also think the title for this book could have been better thought out and doesn't reflect the content. Maybe "Serendipity: An American Sojourn in Sri Lanka" would have been more appropriate? This is a travelogue with a difference, describing how people living in an island of paradise cope with both natural and man-made adversity.
Finally, having listened to the whole of the recording, I am left with one thought. Sri Lanka is such a beautiful 'paradise'-like island. I wonder if Adele would be willing to travel back and write a follow up to this book with a different emphasis, this time on the historical and cultural aspects of the Island and it's influence on the people of Sri Lanka? Food for thought.