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HellRazor

In Transit. An eclectic gourmand rather than a picky gourmet.
  • 23
  • reviews
  • 7
  • helpful votes
  • 36
  • ratings
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

  • A History of Nazi Germany
  • By: William L. Shirer
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 57 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,626
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,136
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,124

Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the 20th century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A unique account

  • By Richard on 07-12-10

A Classic That Makes The History Come Alive

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

Reviewed: 14-02-19

WWII holds an especial fascination for me for some reason that I'm not quite sure of (why this period and not WWI, Vietnam, Korea, Civil War, etc., I can't furnish a good reason for).

As I get older, history is much more of an interesting topic for me, probably because I now have a lot of it behind me and see its usefulness and applicability in the cyclical zeitgeist of modern times.
Having read the hardback edition a couple of decades ago, remembering virtually nothing of it, I thought I'd give the Audible version a shot (a rather long shot as it turned out at over 57 hours listening time).

Giving a book a 5* rating is always a bit of a tricky business, you really don't like doing it because it leaves anyone who bothers to read your review that you're gushing like a girl and that the book can't do any better, that it's somehow beyond reproach and without flaws. I've never come across a book that i thought couldn't do better, even if perhaps I didn't see how or why immediately after you've closed its covers. After a descent cooling off period and a little reflection, you start to see where the fixes might go.

Shirer was a good journalist an an excellent writer. As you might expect, you couldn't call him a completely objective or dispassionate chronicler of Hitler and Nazi Germany, he wasn't. What he is, though is a man of his times who was astonishingly aware that the times he was passing through and present in were of significant import. And the reason that this book deserves a high rating is that history unhurriedly unfurls itself and comes alive while one senses the steel in its verisimilitude and feels the weight of its veracity.

The narrator, Grover Gardner was a natural for this book and had the appropriate Edward R Murrow retro newscaster-flavoured voice that fit nicely into an era of radio and Pathe Newsreels.

  • Clear and Present Danger

  • Jack Ryan
  • By: Tom Clancy
  • Narrated by: Michael Prichard
  • Length: 30 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 337
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 307
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 303

At what point does criminal activity threaten national security? When can a nation respond to it as to an enemy? These are the questions Jack Ryan must consider when he hears the awful news: Colombian drug lords, tired of being harassed by US law enforcement agents, have assassinated three high American officials, and that is just the beginning. The message is clear: Leave us alone. But they have pushed too far. Someone steps quietly over the line they have drawn, deploying covert-action teams in Colombia, intending to take the fight to the enemy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • amazing book

  • By mark on 24-04-15

Not Great Art. Just Pretty Good Writing.

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

Reviewed: 24-12-18

I understand this novel, when first published, landed on the NY Times B/S List and stayed there for quite awhile, I can see why.

I can also see why Clancy became an institution and how much of a Ying-Yang effect the American Political zeitgeist (sorry about the terminology) had on him and how much he must have influenced it. Considering the book was written over 30 years ago, a surprising amount of the content is still relevant and even the stuff that isn't, can be still looked at from the present without expending any psychic energy in suspending disbelief or questioning its plausible historic verisimilitude.
Clancy is, of course, unabashedly patriotic, militaristic, and will surprise no one in his predictably conservative view on the Drug War, treatment of politics and politicians. To some readers, like myself, this will be enough to prevent them from becoming starry-eyed fanboys of the author.

He writes his characters from the outside-in and therefore they lack a certain depth of characterisation and the individual idiosyncrasies that lend themselves to the reader's perception of breathing, bleeding, living people which might shift the author into the coterie of great American authors. Rather than amalgamating various personality traits into a single character, one get's the feeling of the reverse process going on in this book. This gives the impression that the many characters in this book can be condensed into a few, less than multidimensional types. Occasionally leading to confusion and difficulty in recognising one from another.

Clancy is very adept at moving an adventure story along and making it addictive. Personally, I find the technical expertise of the author very satisfying, although I would understand that this approach is not everyone's cup of tea.

I completed the over 30 hours of listening time of this production in less than a week and enjoyed it. I would certainly take the time and look forward to reading some of the author's other work.

The narrator was a competent & clear reader of the work whose strengths outweighed his weaknesses.

  • The Pentagon's Brain

  • An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency
  • By: Annie Jacobsen
  • Narrated by: Annie Jacobsen
  • Length: 18 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45

No one has ever written the history of the Defense Department's most secret, most powerful, and most controversial military science R&D agency. In the first-ever history of the organization, New York Times best-selling author Annie Jacobsen draws on inside sources, exclusive interviews, private documents, and declassified memos to paint a picture of DARPA, or "the Pentagon's brain", from its Cold War inception in 1958 to the present.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Potentially Fascinating Look At Dark Tech.

  • By HellRazor on 19-12-18

A Potentially Fascinating Look At Dark Tech.

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

Reviewed: 19-12-18

A comprehensive reportage on part of the machinery that has evolved to produce the products of what, for want of a better description, has been called the American Industrial-Military Complex.

Some of the subject matter presented here simply amazes the average reader, who would find himself hard put to believe manifest, even in the most far-fetched science fiction novel. This book is certainly jammed backed with interesting detail.

The author competently investigates non-covert aspects of DARPA, the prime mover of defense related research, how and to what extent it operates and some of its more familiar, non-covert production (Internet, robots, drones, networks, cyborgs, etc.). She also almost, but not quite, speculates on what still might remain hidden under overs stamped "CLASSIFIED".

Something in the work is lacking and it is too bad that it is not there. Perhaps it is the author's career as a reporter ("just the facts, ma'am) that enforces a reluctance to colour her reports with the finishing touches of imagination.The reader can only speculate how much more edifying and entertaining this book could have been with a brighter, more science oriented author.

But perhaps, I am being unfair with this criticism, as I have read Jacobsen's earlier work "Operation Paperclip" which also, like this one, I found worth a read.

In this Audible version, the author reads her work clearly, competently and in complete monotone stolidness, from beginning to end. She never once falters from this style of delivery, making a good argument against some authors being allowed to perform their own work.

I think that this intriguing subject is still waiting for a more satisfying and eloquent work on this fascinating area of dark technology.

Do I recommend the book? Yes, for those interested in the subject.

  • The New Silk Roads

  • The Present and Future of the World
  • By: Peter Frankopan
  • Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
  • Length: 6 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 142
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 131
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 129

'All roads used to lead to Rome. Today, they lead to Beijing.' When The Silk Roads was published in 2015, it became an instant classic. A major reassessment of world history, it compelled us to look at the past from a different perspective. The New Silk Roads brings this story up to date, addressing the present and future of a world that is changing dramatically. Following the Silk Roads eastwards, from Europe through to China, by way of Russia and the Middle East, The New Silk Roads provides a timely reminder that we live in a world that is profoundly interconnected. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Dull

  • By Rossco on 17-12-18

The Sun Sets In The West and Rises (once again) In The East.

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

Reviewed: 24-11-18

Frankopan is a solid writer, he writes clearly but sheds light on nothing new here.

The author has a defining point of view and he is no Americanophile.

China wins as the US curls up like a man in a street fight as the rest of the world kicks it.

End of.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Fear

  • Trump in the White House
  • By: Bob Woodward
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,120
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 995
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 988

The inside story on President Trump, as only Bob Woodward can tell it. With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • balanced and the text is served well by narration.

  • By David W. on 12-09-18

What to make of this book.

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

Reviewed: 16-09-18

Liked: The relatively clear, objective style. The narrator was fine and did a reasonable job, no complaints.

Woodward attempts to perform an exceedingly difficult task of fly-on-the-wall journalism without resorting to too much of a viewpoint or indulge in burdensome biased criticism and leaves the ultimate judgement of his subject to his readers.

The problem with delving into this book, as far as this particular reader is concerned, is that one goes in curious but comes out mystified.

I would have appreciated it if Woodward had tied it all together in to a storyline and perhaps practiced the novelist’s art more to open up his subject enough to explicate the inner workings a bit.

As it is, FEAR is a black box, inside which we can not see. We can have a more sophisticated idea of how a president might function within the machinery of government from the author’s competently written description without getting a handle on the man himself.

Maybe it is just that I needed a bit of hand-holding or the torch held higher since I still can’t seem to manage to get the way it works.

But, that is perhaps, the idea. Just the way it is.

  • The Big Sleep

  • By: Raymond Chandler
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 6 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 745
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 698
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 696

Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood's two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA's seedy backstreets, Marlowe's got his work cut out - and that's before he stumbles over the first corpse.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Oh Philip....

  • By Hannah on 22-10-17

Hard edged, steely eyed eloquence. Nice!

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

Reviewed: 14-08-18

What I liked: the cold slap of language and rhythm of speech delivered through a thin lipped snarl that belies the smokey grin. Memorable descriptions with snippets worth quoting on every other page.

What I didn’t like: rather weak, anticlimactic finale.

The narrator was very good, fit the style without falling too much into predictable noir stereotype or cliche vocalizations.

A classic that doesn’t overly suffer from the same fate of works of art which have had the misfortune to be labeled “classics”. Chandler has lost little of the edge or energy of his writing over the vast span of years. Some of the slang of the day is slightly dated, as you would expect, but the fact never hurt Shakespeare and doesn’t hurt Chandler.

If you can’t allow for, or don’t have enough imagination to, allow for changing historical norms and mores, you might bridle or get upset with the lack of modern political correctness, which if you do, would be a shame.

Well worth your time.

  • A Canticle for Leibowitz

  • By: Walter M. Miller Jr.
  • Narrated by: Tom Weiner
  • Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 136
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 111

Winner of the 1961 Hugo Award for Best Novel and widely considered one of the most accomplished, powerful, and enduring classics of modern speculative fiction, Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz is a true landmark of 20th-century literature—a chilling and still-provocative look at a postapocalyptic future.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • classic.

  • By dave nolan on 08-03-18

A good, not great book read competently.

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

Reviewed: 02-08-18

Although falling under the category of science fiction, this is an allegorical tale. One that , I think, would have been better if it hadn’t attempted to be so literary.

Then extensive use of Latin, while contributing a certain atmospheric verisimilitude, was largely unnecessary, perhaps even pretentious in its classical aspirations.

On the whole the book was intelligently written, at times clever and entertaining but diminished by the author’s overriding intention to deliver its message.

  • The Girl with All the Gifts

  • By: M. R. Carey
  • Narrated by: Finty Williams
  • Length: 13 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,464
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,029
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,011

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her 'our little genius'. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A stunning read

  • By Simon on 19-01-14

Provides a refreshing twist on the genre.

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

Reviewed: 13-07-18

•Quick note* I am not a big fan of zombie genre due to the fact that it often tends to blur into fuzzy samenesses and cliche' ridden plots and characterizations. Not true of this writer or his book.

Carey is a good storyteller and a good craftsman of the written word. His characterization is good and he knows how to move a story along with the right balance of dramatic expectation and nuanced commentary.

I sort of have a fetish that the characters acting out their parts within a story evidence a certain internal logic that offers a certain internal consistency and verisimilitude. The characters don't need to be straight-jacketed with a too strict consistency, because human beings are often not consistent. I just get a little irritated when characters start sprouting wings out of nowhere, suddenly performing superhuman feats when the basis for these turns of events aren't at least hinted at some point prior to their silly manifestation in the storyline. There needs to be some sort of integrity of internal structure to their movements and actions to make them believable to me and I can go ahead and start suspending some disbelief.

Particularly strong characters were the little girl Melanie and the character of Dr. Caldwell, and it was awhile into the book before I realized the writer was not female. Especially, since I am not a big fan of children running the show when I am reading or listening to a book (no doubt, why I'm not a big Harry Potter or Steven Spielberg fan.

The Narrator was clear, straightforward and competent, a good choice for this book.

Recommended. The book is a decent investment of both your time & money.

  • City Without Stars

  • By: Tim Baker
  • Narrated by: Ed Hughes
  • Length: 13 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    2.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

In Ciudad Real, Mexico, a deadly war between rival cartels is erupting, and hundreds of female sweatshop workers are being murdered. As his police superiors start shutting down his investigation, Fuentes suspects most of his colleagues are on the payroll of narco kingpin El Santo.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good, strong characters caught in violent forces

  • By HellRazor on 06-07-18

Good, strong characters caught in violent forces

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

Reviewed: 06-07-18

Inexorable tragedy & its aftermath.

Good, strong characterization. Individuals caught in currents of the violent movements of struggle and survival, bloody rip currents of forces beyond their individual controls.

Terse, lean, muscular, non-sentimental documentary-styled writing completely complementary and compatible with the subject matter.

Slightly let down by a small quantity of politically correct, metaphysical ramblings. A few weak plot flaws and an ending, perhaps not completely worthy of the book itself. Thus the 4* for the story and 4* overall rating.

Narrator an excellent and well-chosen fit for this writer's style and purposes. An audible book well worth your time.

Bravo.


  • Endurance

  • Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
  • By: Alfred Lansing
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,535
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,399
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,399

In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enthralling

  • By penobscott on 10-07-17

The adventure starts when things go wrong.

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

Reviewed: 23-06-18

I don’t care how bad your day gets, it can always get worse.

And that’s what happened to Shackleton and his men... it happened for 17 months in the most barren, threatening, inimical, diabolically frozen landscape on earth. A relentless and unending example of Murphy’s Law at it’s most Satanic. These men were giants in spite of and directly because of the fact they didn’t obtain their objective and what the endured instead.

When one speaks of The British Stiff Upper Lip, this is the source. Stoicism on steroids.. This is adventure and the essence of survival against the odds in its truest, most raw form.

Also, the narrator was a natural for this job.

Recommended.