"In a word; Superb!"
This audio version of this superb autobiography surely has to be the definitive one. The book version will not impart the inflections, emphasis and amusing and accurate impressions that the author himself brings to this flawless reading.
This was my first autobiography I'd read and wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was more than pleased with what Stephen Fry's chronicle dished up. For me it was something I could not put down. This is a truly fascinating and candid read that will reveal much about the author. In fact, he is brutally honest about himself and is not afraid to tell us things about himself that he doesn't like, is ashamed of and otherwise embarrassed about. He is often highly critical of himself which sometimes reveals a fragile person underneath with all his self doubt and perceived failings. His story telling is brilliant and is portrayed beautifully in his extraordinarily articulate style. There are words used in this book that I have never heard, much less understand, but don't let this put you off. You'll get the gist and that's what's important.
Stephen Fry is to the English language as fillet Minion is to beef.
Brilliant, shocking, funny, insightful candid and above all honest .. A truly remarkable read.
Stephen Fry does it again! OK, this is his first of his two autobiographies, but I read his second, "The Fry Chronicles" first, so this is why I've said he's done it "again".
it doesn't matter which order you read the two parts of his life detailed in these accounts as they are self-encapsulated. I was blown away by how good Fry's writing is and how natural it is too. Fry's total mastery of the English language is just amazing and this book shows just how bright he was from an early age. But it also shows how human and fallible he was too.
Fascinating, touching, funny and brutally honest, Stephen Fry has penned an absolutely superb account of his early life and as I'm nowhere near as proficient with the English language as he is I cannot offer up enough superlatives to recommend highly enough this autobiography. I'm sure that if you read this one you will be hungry for the next instalment in "The Fry Chronicles".
I'm out of words, but not praise for this book.
If you don't read it you'll be missing out on what the English language was made for!
As someone who has a keen interest in all aspects of submarines, I was instantly drawn to this book when I saw it.
The book tells the tale of the USS Queenfish and its artic mapping mission in 1970.
However, this book was not what I was expecting. That is not to say that it isn't a well written account of the Queenfish's important voyage of discovery, but for me personally it fell short of what I thought the book would offer.
I was expecting a more personal account of the mission with a more human-oriented perspective with the telling of many anecdotes, personal perspectives and how man and machine worked together to achieve the feat that was accomplished.
Instead, what this book offers up is a somewhat dry and report-like telling of the story. In my view, the book spends far too much time padding out the story with history and geographical lessons that take up far too much of the book. Unless you've got a very good understanding in your head about where all the somewhat obscure places referenced are, then like me, you'll be totally lost. There's also no need to tell us just how many cubic feet of water flows from one river into a particular sea.
If you're studying for a degree in artic geography or something similar, then certainly all the details will be of some reference use to you, but for the majority of listeners I feel, the excessive historical and geographical information is just not necessary.
Insights into the legendary oddities of Hyman G. Rickovers interview techniques for candidates for the nuclear programme were interesting, but once the reader was painted a picture of the scenario I felt there was too much spent on this aspect when the story began telling us about several non-related candidates experiences.
There were some points of interest of course and the incident of the rogue wave near the start of the book boded well for the type of story I was looking for. However, there's just not enough of that sort of story telling he
Ed Macy perfectly captures what it was like to serve and fight in Afghanistan and offers real insight into just how hard fought battles were and vicious they could be. Macy's gripping, fast-paced, honest and gritty writing style really puts the reader into his world and the incredible combat patrols and major battles he fought in.
Macy, though, was not your perfect fly-boy. No, the author is not a one-dimensional character that one would suspect was destined for such achievements. Rather, he turned his life around through sheer determination and hard work to become the decorated pilot he is.
There's not much I can say about this book other than to add that this is a fascinating read and really un-put-downable. It's a riveting and at times an adrenaline pumped white-knuckle ride. The key battles are written so well that you feel that you are right there in the cockpit with them and experiencing the heart-pumping series of events.
I literally could not stop listening to this excellently written account of what it was like to fly and fight the incredible Apache Longbow attack helicopter.
I will be downloading Ed Macy's other book on this subject "HellFire" just as soon as my next credit comes. Hell, I might even splash out on it now!
This book tells the story of the courage, determination and camaraderie of the British forces in Afghanistan and is highly recommended.
Narration was excellent too. Sam Hazeldine adds real emphasis and realism to this reading and tops off what is an amazing story.
"History Made Interesting & Accessible"
Typically, history books are pretty dry and unappealing reads at the best of times. However, the approach of this book was novel and original and therefore I thought I'd take a look.
I was not disappointed.
This is more like a guide book (as its title suggests) than a monologue on life in the 14th century and as such has a much wider appeal to those who might not consider this sort of work of interest.
The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
is nonetheless an informative and entertaining read and will give the listener a real sense of what it was like to really live in that century. It places the listener as if you were actually there and points out all sorts of things about life back then you may not have thought about.
For those students of history this title is well worth a look as it is extremely detailed and well researched and will offer insights from a different point of view some history buffs may not have encountered before.
What really brings this book to life is the excellent narration by Jonathan Keeble . It is so naturally delivered that you might well think it's being recited from memory and is full of inflections and accents that really make it come to life.
Educational, insightful, entertaining and above all fun. This will teach you a thing or two and is worthy of your time.
"An Enthrawling Journey"
I've just finished reading this and I have to say that this book was absolutely superb! Some reviewers have said that it's too long. Long it is, but the level of detail carefully rendered in the words of this excellently written story serve to paint a vivid set of characters in an equally well defined world. Faber's style of writing is one of unhurried story-telling which allows the reader to better understand the characters that inhabit this world. It's a style I was instantly impressed with from start to finish. Other authors often rush a story fearing that the reader would lose interest in the plot if they didn't move things along at perhaps an unrealistic rate. No, Faber allows his story to slowly mature permitting the reader to "live" this world with him.
His story is character driven (as all good stories are) but the reader gains real insight into their inner thoughts and feelings over time just like actually getting to know someone in real life.
This tail is like a fine wine that can only be appreciated with time and care and Faber delivers both in generous measure.
I could go on uttering many superlatives about this book and all wouldn't do it justice in my opinion. Take the time to read this story and you will be drawn into a rich and enthralling place you wont want to leave.
Like others here, I too was desperate to find out more about what happens to the characters seen here as soon as I'd finished the book so acquainted you feel with them by the time it's sadly all over.
Yes, there is a peppering of bad language throughout, but it's required to give the story its gritty and visceral sense of reality that this journey is. Narration I found to be excellent with the various tones and accents of each character done with aplomb.
Finally, this book has a host of words I'd never come across, so it's given me plenty of opportunity to extend my vocabulary when I look up what they all mean.
Start your enthrawling journey today and enjoy!
"A Masterful Work"
This is a truly masterful and objective history of the third Reich based on the mountains of captured Nazi documents after the war and therefore is not subject to a particular historians interpretation of events.
Although long and sometimes a little difficult to digest due to - for example - the large number of individuals dealt with, this book is nevertheless an incredibly thorough coverage of Hitler's rise to power that will reward the reader with a wealth of knowledge throughout its scope.
This has to be one of (if not, the most) complete treatment of the subject matter. I was amazed to read actual extracts of conversations that had been carefully documented with typical German efficiency. There is just so much here that I find it amazing that one man could write such a mammoth volume.
A word on the narration; This could be a most difficult book for a narrator due to the frequent use of German names, places and other foreign language references. However, this is handled with superb skill by Grover Gardener who's delivery is both confident and precise. It is not surprising then perhaps that he has narrated some of the largest and complex volumes on other matters such as the American civil war.
In summary, this is a long, but worthwhile masterpiece of work into some of history's darkest days which offers incredible insight into the mind of one of history's most infamous men.
"An Epic Tale"
When I came across this title and read its synopsis I was surprised that I'd not heard about the story of the USS Houston before. As someone with an interest in naval history it piqued my curiosity as to why such an epic tale was not already known to me.
The story of the crew of the Houston is one that somehow has largely escaped the attention of the world. We've all heard about the major naval and wartime incidents of the second world war such as the sinking of the Bismarck, the attack at Pearl Harbour, the battle of Midway and many other such often told stories, so it will amaze you as it did me that this story isn't amongst the more popular ones we know of.
The story told here is truly amazing, harrowing and sometimes funny. The book details the brief history of the Houston and then proceeds to describe the key naval engagements she participated in gripping detail. We then follow the various groups of survivors from that vessel and the accompanying HMAS Perth as they struggle to survive Japanese captivity over more than 3 years. There are so many incidents covered her with respect to the many and varied characters that leaves one with a sense of awe and respect for the endurance and determination of these brave men. This is the sort of story that could be made into a 10 part mini-series such as the recently acclaimed 'The Pacific' and probably still have to leave things out.
It is enough to say that 'Ship Of Ghosts' is an incredible story that will leave an impression on the reader for a long time.
"Darkness & Cold: Life In North Korea"
North Korea is probably the worlds most closed society, so when I saw this title I was immediately compelled to purchase it as I'd seen so little in the past about the place and its citizens.
This book follows the lives of several North Koreans over the years that eventually led to their defection to South Korea. This is a truly fascinating and often shocking and depressing read at times, but is a real eye-opener to the incredibly hard lives that people have in North Korea. As someone who could only guess at the living conditions in North Korea, even I was shocked to read about the often deeply ingrained level of brain washing the population at large received about the outside world. Despite the primitive conditions, people actually believed that their country was the best there was and that they had nothing to envy of anywhere else.
Particularly during the famine years of the1990's the level of deprivation was truly shocking, but perhaps more shocking was how so many people were accepting of this as the 'norm' and despite hardship and starvation the often unshakable belief that their God-like leader would take care of them. To give you a flavour of how backward the ordinary people were, one person refers to a freezer as a 'North Pole machine' which I thought indicative of how little people had.
Reviews are not my strong suit, but suffice to say that this title is a riveting read and excellently researched and written. It will leave you dumbfounded as to how in the 21st century people are forced to live this way.
"Full of personality"
As someone interested in Naval history and particularly in submarine warfare, I was pleased to come across this book detailing the career of the USS Archerfish - a U.S navy submarine built during the second world war. Initially, I had expected this book to primarily focus on the Archerfish's war exploits as this was the main reason I purchased this title.
However, around a third of the way through Gallant Lady the stories of her efforts during the war were told and at that point I was somewhat disappointed. I had looked forward to really getting into more of the experiences and adventures of the Archerfish during the Pacific campaign waged by the U.S submarine force during world war II and felt slightly let down by the relatively little time spent telling this part of the story.
Thankfully, as you listen through the remainder of this book you will find - as did I - that the real value of this book is the telling of the much more interesting and colourful adventures of the officers and crew of this unique submarine. The war years were really just an introduction to the amusing, amazing and often heart warming tales of a tight nit brotherhood of men who took their work and their partying seriously! As you listen on, you will be taken on a long and winding journey through various exotic ports of call and all the stories that even a Hollywood director could not match for outrageousness and cunning. You really come to understand the sense of family that comes with serving aboard a submarine and how hard work, dedication and ingenuity all play a part in this epic tale of the lives of the many who served on Archerfish.
Above all, Gallant Lady is a human story and the book deftly introduces the reader to the many and varied rich personalities who's tales are told so well here. By the end of this book you have a genuine sense of feeling that you know these men in some small way and the experience is enriching.
A worthwhole listen.
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