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The Village Green

  • 6
  • reviews
  • 7
  • helpful votes
  • 14
  • ratings
  • Rome: A History in Seven Sackings

  • By: Matthew Kneale
  • Narrated by: Neil Gardner
  • Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 51

No city on earth has preserved its past as has Rome. Visitors stand on bridges that were crossed by Julius Caesar and Cicero, walk around temples visited by Roman emperors, and step into churches that have hardly changed since popes celebrated mass in them 16 centuries ago. These architectural survivals are all the more remarkable considering the violent disasters that have struck the city. Afflicted by earthquakes, floods, fires and plagues, it has most of all been repeatedly ravaged by roving armies.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic

  • By John Imeson on 19-12-17

Excellent popular history

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

Reviewed: 18-01-19

An enjoyable read about the Eternal City in some of its darkest times. The author’s style is concise but entertaining, while the narrator handles things adeptly. However, he does stumble over the Italian wording here and there. For example, his pronunciation of ‘Trastevere’ set my teeth on edge a little. But this is minor quibble.

Of the sackings, there were occasions where I was amazed how lightly Rome got off compared with other cities in similar eras. On other occasions, particularly when Imperial forces sacked the city after its fall in 1527, the hell Rome citizens went through was simply appalling. Some of the history I had not encountered before and will enjoy reading-up on further.

The author’s handling of the two modern occupations, particularly his exploration of the German occupation from 43-44, was thought-provoking, especially the relationship Romans had with fascism - largely content when things went right, angered and confused when things fell apart. It’s here, perhaps, that one encounters the work's weakest point: some important events are skirted over and the question of culpability for fascism among the Romans is often left hanging.

A final positive point was the author's ability to link the previous sacks of Rome to the one under discussion, and to assess the history leading up to the point at which the city is taken over. All of this is done with broad strokes but without losing detail. Overall, an excellent audiobook and one for any fan of Rome or those with an interest in general history.

  • The North Water

  • By: Ian McGuire
  • Narrated by: John Keating
  • Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 687
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 644
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 645

Behold the man: Stinking, drunk, brutal and bloodthirsty, Henry Drax is a harpooner on the Volunteer, a Yorkshire whaling ship bound for the hunting waters of the Arctic Circle. Also aboard is Patrick Sumner, an ex-army surgeon with a shattered reputation, no money, and no better option than to embark as ship's medic on this ill-fated voyage.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A glorious and disturbing assault on the senses

  • By Kaggy on 21-02-17

Grim up North

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

Reviewed: 05-04-18

A superb yarn that had me gripped. The author’s descriptive power is marvellous and the narrator does an excellent job conveying this. The psychotic nature of Drax and the slow, grinding away of Sumner’s soul were some of the most powerful passages. Clearly a lot of research has also gone into the work too; the job of whaling and its brutal nature comes alive, as does the unforgiving harshness of Baffin Island and the wider Nunavut/Greenland region. If I had one criticism it’s that I would have liked a bit more development of the plot lines, particularly surrounding events on Baffin Island and the fate that befalls other characters there.

  • A Sailor of Austria

  • The Otto Prohaska Novels, Book 1
  • By: John Biggins
  • Narrated by: Nigel Patterson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

In the spring of 1915, a young Austro-Czech naval lieutenant Ottokar Prohaska finds himself posted to the minuscule Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Submarine Service in the Adriatic port of Pola. In some trepidation at first, because he has no experience whatever of submarines, his fears are soon set at rest when he discovers that nobody else has either: least of all his superiors.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Ripping yarns

  • By The Village Green on 29-08-17

Ripping yarns

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

Reviewed: 29-08-17

An engrossing historical novel that deftly weaves reminisces of life aboard Austro-Hungarian U-boats, fighting for a sclerotic Empire in a forgotten theatre of war. There are both comedic moments, elements of pathos and bags of action-packed adventure. At points it can feel a bit disjointed as the life story cuts backwards and forwards a bit (the chronology being completed by the other Prohaska novels). Finally, the narrator is clear and concise, although his foreign accents can lean just a smidge towards the 'Allo 'Allo kind.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Bitter Blood

  • A True Story of Southern Family Pride, Madness, and Multiple Murder
  • By: Jerry Bledsoe
  • Narrated by: Kevin Stillwell
  • Length: 20 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 19

In this unrelenting real-life drama of three wealthy families connected by marriage and murder, Bledsoe recounts the shocking events, obsessive love, and bitter custody battles that led toward the bloody climax that took nine lives.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Detailed

  • By Mrs F on 27-05-15

Bloodlines

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

Reviewed: 22-07-16

A tale of murder and intrigue that fans of true crime will enjoy, as well as those who like mystery. It was well written too. The narration was excellent, making the flow of this lengthy work seem just about right. The attention to detail by the author was also a strong point. My big criticism is the length to which the family background is explored, taking up too much room and, in many places, proving superfluous. My second criticism is that the author fails to ask why law enforcement agencies: 1) botched their jobs so badly and 2) whether anyone was held responsible for that. I suspect the book came out soon after the events described, and that many of the issues raised had yet to be resolved at the time of writing. Overall: worthwhile, but meandering in parts

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Conviction

  • The Untold Story of Putting Jodi Arias Behind Bars
  • By: Juan Martinez
  • Narrated by: Patrick Lawlor
  • Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75

Juan Martinez, the fiery prosecutor who convicted notorious murderess Jodi Arias for the disturbing killing of Travis Alexander, speaks for the first time about the shocking investigation and sensational trial that captivated the nation. Through two trials, America watched with bated breath as Juan Martinez fought relentlessly to convict Jodi Arias of murder one for viciously stabbing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, to death.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved this book!

  • By sophie on 14-06-16

Fascinating account of a major trial

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

Reviewed: 09-05-16

This case caught America's attention for several years and for several reasons. The accused, Jodi Arias,was photogenic; her story seemed almost too fantastic to be believable (it was); and there was photographic proof of her moving the corpse of her boyfriend, Travis,

In the event, the prosecution deconstructed her lies and used incontrovertible evidence based on sound investigative work. The author goes into detail about how he did this and how, when it seemed he had hit a brick wall, his persistence in assessing all of the evidence paid off.

It brings home the fact that what we see in the nightly news is a distillation of years of hard work by law enforcement and men and women like Martinez. Conversely, as a comparison, it also highlights just how poorly-researched and dubious some other prosecutions have been in recent years.

Anyway, the book was well written and the narration first class. I'd recommend this to those who enjoy true crime and those who like to read about trials or stand-out cases.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Lost Enlightenment

  • Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane
  • By: S. Frederick Starr
  • Narrated by: Kevin Stillwell
  • Length: 25 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 45
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 40
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40

Lost Enlightenment recounts how, between the years 800 and 1200, Central Asia led the world in trade and economic development, the size and sophistication of its cities, the refinement of its arts, and, above all, in the advancement of knowledge in many fields. Central Asians achieved signal breakthroughs in astronomy, mathematics, geology, medicine, chemistry, music, social science, philosophy, and theology, among other subjects.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An enlightening listen

  • By The Village Green on 04-05-15

An enlightening listen

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

Reviewed: 04-05-15

A superb magnum opus that details the rise, apogee and fall of the Central Asian enlightenment. A particular must for those keen to understand some of the leading characters that shaped the Muslim world in both science, logic and Islamic doctrine (both a catalyst for the enlightenment and a cause in its demise). My favourite bit? Almost certainly the author's adept handling of biographical detail and his analysis of the decline, the implications of which we are still living with. The narration was good, although my one slight criticism would concern the levels at which they recorded the narrator. Sometimes it sounds a little bit compressed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful