"Best book so far"
It does take time to get into the stories as there are so many characters, plot lines and background history. What really helped me to follow what is happening was a website called Tower of the Hand, which has summaries of each chapter and links to biographies of all the characters.
This is my favourite book of the series so far with great battles in the north and many betrayals . Great story telling with cliffhangers in most chapters. Expect to be gripped and shocked.
"Detailed but superfluous account"
There are so many books on the Second World War that this tragic period has been extensively documented. Kershaw tries to distinguished his books from the others by just concentrating on the Germany side of the story, and giving only brief accounts of the fighting. The key revelation for me was how the July bomb plot allowed the Nazi regime to destroy any opposition, and allowed them to take Germany to their nihilistic end. What the author does is concentrates on how the war affected the population, and how propaganda was used to make people believe there was no alternative to fighting till the end. For most people they adopted a passive stoicism, and try to keep a normal life going. I like the story of the high government official that wrote about the need to change monitory policy in the last months of the war. While there is obviously new research in this book I don't think it adds much to what we already know about the end of the war. I was a bloody mess, and the Nazi elite were callous brutes.
"Best thriller of the year"
I've had a bad run on novels recently so it was a relief to listen to this which was gripping. It's not too bloody, which many thrillers have become. The writing is of a high standard and makes some acute observations about relationships. But more importantly it's a great plot which makes you want to keep listening.
"Worthy but not riveting"
This book came very well reviewed and won prizes, but I found 27 hours about the Gulags a bit of a slog. It did say this on the tin so I only have myself to blame.
The history of the gulags has been neglected compared to all the literature on the unique event that is the Holocaust, so there is a need for this book. It will be valuable to future authors, but it is not an easy listen. I tended to chip away at it in small bits which worked OK, but it didn't work for me for longer sessions.
"Best introduction to medieval history"
I read this book a year ago, yes audible I still read. I thought it was great so I decided to also get the audiobook. It gives an excellent survey of the period. The author is clearly an expert in the period. He is particularly good on the the problem of sources for the period, and that we know far less than we think about the events. He starts the book by saying the reason medieval historians were so good at code breaking in WW2 was they were use to piecing together a story from fragmentary facts. Some of the coverage of different periods is uneven. The Norman conquest and the run up to it is given extensive coverage, but some other periods are skipped over quickly. Religious social and economics factors are also covered, which means the book is covering a lot.
The advantage of telling just the diplomatic history is that you can see more easily the roots of diplomatic events. If we take the Cuban crises, there was no way the US could back down. The book shows this wasn't just about the cold war, the US had a close history with Cuba stretching back to the 19th century. Similar themes emerge from the book, but at times it felt a bit of a slog.
"Great historical fiction"
This is the one of the best novels I have read about war. The book won the Pulitzer in the 1970's but the subject matter was unfashionable then and it went rather unnoticed, but over time it's popularity has increased. It's a gripping account of the battle of Gettysburg. Seen mostly from the view of the Confederate generals, it brings out the agonies of command as they know they are fighting a lost cause. The whole course of the battle is described and the fighting is vividly told. High class fiction and a must for anyone interested in the American Civil war.
"Excellent short history"
As an introduction to the crusades this couldn't be better. Told in a series of lectures by the author, each is highly informative, and contain none of the self indulgent digressions you sometimes hear at university. The author has a good reading voice and clearly is on top of his subject. I will be trying more of this series.
"Not as good as Phillip Kerr"
I wanted this to be like a Bernie Gunter novel but found it rather disappointing. Eastland is a decent writer but I doing think his principle character is interesting enough or the action gripping.
"Good idea but poor storytelling"
It starts well then I started to lose some interest. Then it picked up again, but as the action starts to build I became confused by what was going on. Who was fighting who and how that was progressing became very confused for me. In the end I didn't care what happened, which was a shame as there was a good story in there. Maybe the film will be better.
I only managed to listen to half the book and that was mostly at x3. I just thought the plot based around a training school for bodyguards was dull. The character and some of the action was OK, but not worth the effort of getting to the end.
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