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David Jackson

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  • 53
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  • 64
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Where do I begin...?

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-07-19

Full disclosure... Although this is not a positive review, I must admit that I kind of enjoyed this book. I might even give it another listen. Why you ask? You see, I answer, I really enjoy a bit of speculation about the future, and this book is full of it. I actually believe that had the author just been brave enough to be slightly more creative, I think this book could have stood out as a great work of fiction, with the author drawing on real-world events to spawn fully fictitious scenarios about a different world. I mean, I would probably still have been annoyed with the quite grossly jingoistic pro-American bias displayed throughout, but for someone who reads a lot of American Sci-Fi it wouldn't have been too hard to look past.

That being said, Zeihan does not present this as a work of fiction, and I therefore have to review it as a book trying to represent fact. And as such, it is not good. Possibly, with a slightly less ambitious scope, it could have produced some substance, but instead of focusing on what the author knows, he keeps diving into every goddamn region of the World, dissecting what first looks like every level of policy, geography, religious tension and whatnot, but which then turns out to be a bunch of selective "facts" to prove his pretty basic point. And what is that? Well... [insert country name] isn't America, so [insert country name] sucks. Or, in the case of America, where he concludes the opposite, that actually, America has all the attributes of America, and that's why it's so supercalifragalistic.

It really is that simple... And it kind of ruins it for me when I know the ending of every chapter already at the start. Within five minutes of listening I could tell clearly that this author was mainly just interested in reaching his foregone conclusion, and you know what... it get's boring. I'm not sure if he really believes in what is being said throughout the book, but it sure would have been great to see at least a sliver of humility, if not about his country, then at least about his ability to predict the future. I've read up a bit on the guy after starting on this book and it seems as if he's not exactly got a record of 20/20 vision into the future. I am sure that some of the immense amount of predictions he has made in this book will turn out to be true-ish, but statistically that's almost inevitable, given how many predictions he makes. But mate, this is not how predicting the future works... The past is not the future... Trends change all the time. Circumstances change all the time in unforeseeable ways. And dude, consider, just every once in a while, the human factor or the unpredictable impact of technology on society.

That being said, maybe my critique is actually missing the point. Thinking about it, I must admit a certain doubt as to whether this book was ever meant as a serious attempt at predicting the future. It works as propaganda, but I actually don't think that's it either. I think more than anything, this is just Zeihan's bid to become another one of the many tiresome figureheads for American patriotism disguised as academia that keep popping up semi-regularly. Just looking for another angle from which the American public can squint hard enough to be able to see America, even in this time of unquestionable decline, as that paragon of unassailable virtue and power that all Americans deep-down know it is. And I guess that was kind of fun for me. To see the way the so-called "liberal" American falls prey to the same flaw that gnaws at every declining empire, that unwillingness to wake up and see how the world is moving away from them. It's not just American "conservatives" that do it - it's just that liberals know how to dress up their self-delusions in a nice dress.

So... with that in mind I guess I'll review it as a study on the American psyche in the 21st century, and instead give it three stars. Entertaining but ultimately not the way the author intended, and at times insulting, it at least kept me listening. Good job.

Well worth a read

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

Reviewed: 06-12-18

I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It's informative, and brings a slightly different perspective to world history from what one normally experiences. I definitely recommend it. As should be expected I don't always agree with the analysis and sometimes I feel important issues are left out. But that is not a big issue. What disturbed me more though was the frequent mispronunciation of place and person names by the narrator. It wouldn't be hard for the editor to check this and given the subject matter I think it's extra important to get these things right. Once again though, this is not a major issue.

Narrated like a eulogy

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-09-18

This could have been an interesting book but the narrator killed it. How hard can it be to inject just a tiny bit of energy? I don't remember anything.

A different and often engaging approach to history

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

Reviewed: 15-08-18

... but also oftentimes a bit tedious. I found that I could have done without the first few hours, as they felt mainly like a history of English kings in France, but I really started to enjoy the story from Louis XIV and it just got better after. I would recommend this book to anyone who already has an idea of France and its history but it's not a great way for someone unfamiliar with this history to learn anything new.

Informative and thought-provoking

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

Reviewed: 10-08-18

The argument is predictable but it is laid out in an interesting manner which I at least find persuasive. Even should one ultimately disagree with the central arguement it is one that is worthwhile hearing out.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Important book, but sometimes a bit dry

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

Reviewed: 07-08-18

I wish I could say I enjoyed this more, but I have to admit I struggled to get to the end. As fascinating as the subject matter is, it's not an easy book to get through, as it is just so dense with facts and unfortunately quite low on levity. It might be the fault of the narrator who has a style of reading which is a bit too downbeat for a book this long. Apparently the style is intentional, and meant to reflect the way Ben Goldacre speaks in interviews etc, but I'm not sure if I agree that it's the best way to do things. Surely the job of a narrator should be to give the audible version of a book life in a way that the author couldn't do himself, rather than to imitate him. I don't know. Anyway, please don't be dissuaded from listening to this important book but be prepared to put in some work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Don't bother

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

Reviewed: 22-03-18

The development of the audio version of this series is a prime example of the importance of quality narration for the enjoyment of an audiobook. In the first three books of the series Roy Dotrice was simply amazing, producing a seemingly inexhaustible catalogue of distinct voices. I could recognise any character by voice alonw in an instant, even when they had been out of the story for ages. I was enthralled by his ability to remember it all and to give such life to the story and I worried what would happen when he eventually got too old to keep it up.

Unfortunately, that question was answered in this book. He no longer seemed to have any memory of the characters he had given life to in the previous installments. Virtually everyone had changed voices, ages, accents and character. And what's worse, they even did so within the book itself, even sometimes within the same chapter! Names were mispronounced, narration was read as if said out loud by a character and the general tone of the reading was just not right. It was so jarring, that it soon became impossible to continue listening. I gave up after just 10 chapters, after having ploughed through the other three books in record time.

In all fairness, I believe the main fault in this should be placed with the editor. Someone should have been there to remind Roy before each chapter of what he had done previously, and to give him guidance on the characters. There really didn't seem to have been much effort placed in the production at all. But that being said, I just don't think that Roy is up to the task anymore.

It really is a shame, because I did read this book in hardcopy, and I found it to be the most interesting of the series. I was really looking forward to hearing Roy Dotrice read it, and see what he could do with the characters. I will now try and forget this abomination, and hope that someone more up to the task can make a better version.

Good, but not very focused

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

Reviewed: 08-03-18

This book certainly contained a good deal of valuable information, and at times it was very entertaining and even humorous. I might even listen to it again, so I would certainly recommend it. However, I did feel that it would have benefited from a bit more focus and structure as chapters often felt like they blended into each other. Often it just felt like one big rant against all things Gwyneth Paltrow, which, although fun for someone that like myself can't stand the whole 'eating clean' fad, sometimes felt a bit much.

Also, the whole 'Science Columbo' thing... what was that all about? It got better in the end but it did feel forced sometimes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Different and informative

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

Reviewed: 31-01-18

I've read a few histories of Africa, and I was afraid that this was going to be mainly a rehashing of what was stated in these. That fear was however, totally without basis, as this series turned out to be totally different in its approach from anything I've experienced earlier. Although the first few lectures were perhaps a bit difficult to get through, it soon became highly engrossing. Really happy I bought this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Absolutely amazing

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

Reviewed: 10-01-18

I always had a great fascination with the Mongol empire and I have been looking for a comprehensive background on the world that they came from. This series was that and much more, as it went through the history of the step peoples even as far back as the Indo-European expansion in the late Neolithic, to the Mogul empire in India. The narration was good, with the lectures delivered with a lot of energy and story telling ability. Strongly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful