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Ben

Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
  • 14
  • reviews
  • 84
  • helpful votes
  • 42
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  • In Full Flight

  • A Story of Africa and Atonement
  • By: John Heminway
  • Narrated by: John Heminway
  • Length: 10 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

Dr. Anne Spoerry treated hundreds of thousands of people across rural Kenya over the span of 50 years. A member of the renowned Flying Doctors Service, the French-born Spoerry learned how to fly a plane at the age of 45 and earned herself the cherished nickname "Mama Daktari" - "Mother Doctor" - from the people of Kenya. Yet few knew what drove her from post-World War II Europe to Africa.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating Story as regards the Flying Doctor

  • By Ben on 09-03-18

Fascinating Story as regards the Flying Doctor

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-03-18

The hardcopy reviews for this book are deeply praiseworthy and come from many of the best-known of African humanitarians and conservationists. They are also from the friends of Dr Anne Spoerry, which perhaps lends them a touch of bias in regards to their glowing ratings.

I should qualify that remark by saying that as someone who is both fascinated by Africa and the History of Europe, I found this audiobook interesting and compelling. It is clearly well researched and well written (and read) by someone who knew Dr Spoerry very well indeed. It is a very thorough work and therefore, as mentioned above, may perhaps be of the most interest to those who knew Dr Spoerry and/or her work, rather than just an armchair enthusiast of Africa or WWII.

That is not to say that In Full Flight was not a riveting read, but I do believe one may perhaps need to be highly concerned with the history of the second world war AND the work of the flying doctors in East Africa to really get the most out of this volume.

Ben Waddams

  • The Panther in My Kitchen

  • My Wild Life with Animals
  • By: Brian Blessed
  • Narrated by: Brian Blessed, Hildegard Neil
  • Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 231
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 214
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 214

Brian Blessed has a lifelong love of animals and over the years has rescued cats and dogs, horses and ponies, and even a very ungrateful fighting cock. All were characters in their own right, such as Jessie, a dog left languishing for a year at the local RSPCA, who ruled the entire household with a rod of iron, when she wasn't out harassing the local vicar.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Blessed by the Blessed again!

  • By Dave on 08-11-17

You know what you're getting

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-11-17

Assuming you've listened to (why on Earth would you 'read' it when you've got Brian narrating it?!) 'Absolute Pandemonium', you know what you're getting with Brian's new book.

It's witty and funny of course and there's at least one 'GORDON'S ALIVE!!!' but although this tome jumps around a little more than his full autobiography and is more of a collection of roughly chronological animal-related stories, there are some real heart-touching tales too.

I must say, as well as it being an animal-related memoir, it also uses the animals, both pets and wild ones, as a vehicle to explore more of Brian's richly colourful life, which is what I was hoping it would be too. A must for any Blessed fan and I'll be looking forward to the next one.

Ben Waddams

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • SAS Ghost Patrol

  • The Ultra-Secret Unit That Posed as Nazi Stormtroopers
  • By: Damien Lewis
  • Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
  • Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 369
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 341
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 342

SAS Ghost Patrol is the explosive true story of the day in 1942 when the SAS donned Nazi uniforms to perpetrate the most audacious and daring mission of the war. Beyond top secret, deniable in the extreme (and of course enjoying Churchill's enthusiastic blessing), this is one of the most remarkable stories of wartime lawlessness, eccentricity and raw courage in the face of impossible odds - a thoroughly British undertaking.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Epic Story of Desert War Operations

  • By Mr. Alan R. Jenkins on 07-11-17

Courage and Adversity in The Desert War

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-10-17

It's more than likely that this is not your first Damien Lewis book. You will, therefore know what to expect by now; a well-told tale of daring, courage and bravery amongst seemingly hopeless odds and Ghost Patrol certainly doesn't disappoint here.

But although the incredible true story of the commando raids on the North African coast provide an almost unbelieveably exciting read/listen, their authenticity is beyond doubt. There is no need to embelish any word of their stories with novel-esque adrenaline; it's all true and that's what makes the book such a gripping and important piece of history-writing.

Another masterpiece from Damien.

Ben Waddams

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Walking the Americas

  • By: Levison Wood
  • Narrated by: Barnaby Edwards
  • Length: 8 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71

Sunday Times top 10 best seller by the author of Walking the Himalayas, winner of the 2016 Edward Stanford Adventure Travel Book of the Year award.

Walking the Americas chronicles Levison Wood's 1,800 mile trek along the spine of the Americas, through eight countries, from Mexico to Colombia, experiencing some of the world's most diverse, beautiful and unpredictable places.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Does not disappoint

  • By Ben on 26-06-17

Does not disappoint

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-06-17

If you've enjoyed Levison's Nile and Himalayan escapades, this latest travelogue will not disappoint. It is well written and carries with it a prose from someone who is not just passing through the land, but taking it in too.

Many will come to this audiobook after seeing the series on television and as with Lev's other two exploits, the audiobook of his travels in Central America will leave you with far more detail and insight into his journey, than was ever seen on screen.

Lev's ability through preparation and bloody-mindedness, often shows us that even in this world of internet, satellites and cheap, global travel, a long slog through the wilderness is not that much different to that experienced by the explorers of old.

In short, it just goes to show that it is still possible to launch an expedition through untamed places and when one does come across large, modern settlements, one can still experience a culture shock... in reverse.

Ben Waddams

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Operation Relentless

  • The Hunt for the Richest, Deadliest Criminal in History
  • By: Damien Lewis
  • Narrated by: Greg Wagland
  • Length: 11 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 251
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 232
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 230

The new best-seller from the author of Zero Six Bravo. By 2007 Viktor Bout had become the world's foremost arms dealer. Known as the Merchant of Death, he was both public enemy number one to the global intelligence agencies and a ruthless criminal worth around $6 billion. For years Bout had eluded capture, meanwhile building up a labyrinthine network of airlines selling weapons to order to dictators, rebels, despots and terror groups worldwide.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You know what you're getting

  • By Ben on 19-05-17

You know what you're getting

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-05-17

If you've read/listened to the excellent Zero Six Bravo and Damien Lewis' books on the special forces during the Second World War, then you know what to expect from his latest offering; an extraordinary story of bravery, fast-paced action and history made not just readable but exciting.

Operation Relentless is very much in the same vein.

Without giving anything away, as the quote on the frontispiece says 'The Night Manager meets Narcos' is pretty apt. If you've ever enjoyed any of Wilbur Smith's works, you can add that to the mix too. The key feature and the most important point of course with most of Lewis' books...is that they're not ficton.

Ben Waddams

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Blood & Sand

  • By: Frank Gardner
  • Narrated by: Alistair Petrie
  • Length: 11 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 190
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 120
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 122

On June 6th 2004, in a quiet suburb of Riyadh, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner and cameraman Simon Cumbers were filming a programme on al-Qaeda when they were ambushed by Islamic gunmen. Simon was killed outright. Frank was shot and lay pleading for his life. A figure pumped four more bullets into his body at point blank range. Against all the odds, he survived. This is the remarkable account of his agonising journey to where he is today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • gripping and enlightening

  • By Margaret on 15-01-11

Blood and Sand - Travels through troubled lands

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-04-15

Enjoying, as I do, stories from braver people than me, detailing travels in dangerous lands and trying to survive when things go very badly wrong, I was inevitably drawn towards Frank's book. But I found myself enjoying it for many, many more reasons than the rather childish and sensationalist target I set for it from the outset.

This is a deeply intelligent look at a region that, although written about almost 10 years ago, (there is an updated version in book-form) is still sadly relevant today and probably will be for many years to come. It is a deeply harrowing book at times and the last third is deeply moving. A book for anyone interested in learning more about the job of a foreign correspondent, it is also a fascinating and enlightening study of the Islamic and Arabic world as well as the rise of Islamic Extremism.

I expect many will begin to listen to it, as I did, expecting a well-written travelogue through a beautiful yet troubled land and it is certainly this, however I would not hesitate to call it a modern 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom'. Hearing about Frank's slow recovery and that separate, yet equally harrowing journey, is not just moving and inspirational when trying to view it from his perspective, but it certainly puts things into perspective in one's own life.

  • The Boys of Everest

  • By: Clint Willis
  • Narrated by: James Adams
  • Length: 15 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 39
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21

This gripping story of courage, achievement, and heartbreaking loss tells of Bonington's Boys, a band of climbers who reinvented mountaineering during the three decades after Everest's first ascent. Chris Bonington's inner circle included a dozen of the most renowned climbers, who took increasingly terrible risks on now legendary expeditions to the world's most fearsome peaks, and paid an enormous price. Most of them died in the mountains, leaving behind the hardest question of all: was it worth it?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • great book, shame about the reading

  • By David on 24-12-07

Beauty, Determination and Tragedy

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-10-14

This book really is a gem of climbing literature, mountaineering history and both riveting and poetic prose. It is a book for those who are interest in British climbing, the nostalgic end to the 'golden age' of mountaineering just after the 8000m peaks had been climbed, a history of the British on Everest and Bonnington.

The writing and therefore narration, is beautifully poetic. There are many paragraphs that are admittedly assumed and presumed thoughts of those climbers involved, but I believe the mountaineers that survived, have praised the accounts in this book.

It is odd that a book that deals with an activity that is frightening at times, exhilarating at others and all too often sadly tragic, should marry so well with the dialogue which is so soulfully exquisite. Perhaps the best way of describing a book which is, at its core, a grand adventure of determinism, patriotism and courage, is 'sublimely and picturesquely written...and read.'

Ben Waddams

  • Bravo Two Zero - 20th Anniversary Edition

  • By: Andy McNab
  • Narrated by: Paul Thornley
  • Length: 15 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 964
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 899
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 893

January 1991: IRAQ. Eight members of the SAS regiment embark upon a top-secret mission to infiltrate deep behind enemy lines. Under the command of Sergeant Andy McNab, they are to sever a vital underground communication link and to seek and destroy mobile Scud launchers. Their call sign: BRAVO TWO ZERO. Each laden with 15 stones of equipment, they tab 20km across the desert to reach their objective. But within days, their location is compromised. After a fierce fire fight, they are forced into evasive action. Four men are captured. Three die. Only one escapes.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Captivating Story of Human Endurance

  • By Jason on 29-11-16

Maybe not what you are expecting

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-10-14

Bravo Two Zero is a classic in many genres; memoir, gritty travel writing, military history to name a few. I was not entirely sure what to expect, knowing only that it was held in high esteem by many. I am interested in the history of the major armed conflicts and went from WWI to WWII, Vietnam and Iraq and when alighting on Iraq, I decided to listen to Bravo Two Zero.

It is, as I expect many of you will have guessed, not a work about the Iraq War per say, but much more about a small group of elite soldiers behind enemy lines. It is gritty and graphic and a world away from the lives of most who will listen to it, but there are also a lot of human emotions, common to us all portrayed within the text.

The narrator is very good and stereotypical of a tough grizzled soldier, initially I thought 'too' cliched but actually, it works fine as most decent narrations do after you've got used to in in 10minutes or so. In short, an adventurous and smartly written 'read' that is full of suspense and all the more incredible considering its authenticity.

Ben Waddams

  • More Fool Me

  • By: Stephen Fry
  • Narrated by: Stephen Fry
  • Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,812
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,655
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,645

Following on from his hugely successful books, Moab is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles, comes the third chapter in Stephen Fry's life. This unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of More Fool Me is performed by Stephen Fry himself.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A defense of More Fool Me

  • By Ben on 10-10-14

A defense of More Fool Me

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-10-14

Three and a half stars on Audible, two and half stars on Amazon - is this really a book written by Stephen Fry? I've always enjoyed audiobooks ever since earliest childhood and long car journeys to see family made bearable (the car journeys at any rate) with the addition of a story read over the cassette player.

I liked audiobooks for two reasons, firstly the story and second the narrator. I like Stephen Fry's books on Audible for the same reasons. There is nothing worse than an autobiography or memoir read by someone else. So Moab is my Washpot and the Fry Chronicles were a delight. Stephen, having some might say, lulled me therefore into a false sense of security with these two triumphs, disgorged me of my remaining credit in an instant.

And I must say I DID enjoy 'More Fool Me'. The complaints people have with Stephen, and they are justified in many instances, is that he does hark on a little at his 'incompetence' his 'celebrity' and his 'self loathing' and general 'lack of confidence.' I'm sorry to break it to you but this IS Stephen and if you haven't learned that by now, then perhaps you should never have picked up 'More Fool Me' in the first place.

It is self-deprecating in many places, depressing in others and repetitive upon the themes mentioned above, but it is also witty and funny and well written. Perhaps not to the same degree as his previous efforts and yes the second half is all diary-fied but if you're reading this, then you have been warned and per chance you can enjoy it for what it is - a comic although often in the dark sense, insight into another chapter of Stephen's life. And I for one, will be looking forward to the next installment.

Ben Waddams

40 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • The Plague Dogs

  • A Novel
  • By: Richard Adams
  • Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
  • Length: 15 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 4

After being horribly mistreated at a government animal-research facility, Snitter and Rowf escape into the isolation—and terror—of the wilderness. Aided only by a fox they call “the tod,” the two dogs must struggle to survive in their new environment. When the starving dogs attack some sheep, they are labeled ferocious man-eating monsters, setting off a great dog hunt that is later intensified by the fear that the dogs could be carriers of the bubonic plague.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Heart Wrenching and Powerful

  • By Ben on 21-03-12

Heart Wrenching and Powerful

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-03-12

The Plague Dogs as a title seemed hardly to sum up this compelling novel until perhaps three quarters of the way through. A more fitting label may have been 'The Scars of Man' or something similar. For this is a tale of canine heroism, survival, mistrust, sadness, loss, hope, despair, longing and at its base; human cruelty.

It is deeply depressing in places and uplifting in others. It is a more powerful book than Watership Down in my view. It explores the world of cruelty by human hands and the desperate necessity to stay alive. It also explores the affinity dogs have for man and occasionally, vice versa.

I am not a sentimental person particularly but the constant confusion shared by Rawf and Snitter (especially by the latter) over their predicament and their inability to explain to themselves why some people are so cruel and misunderstanding, is a continuous, unrelenting and thoroughly effecting tug of the heartstrings.

If you have a dog, you may well feel inclined to give it a cuddle, every chapter or so.

Ben Waddams

3 of 3 people found this review helpful