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John W

UK
  • 8
  • reviews
  • 22
  • helpful votes
  • 10
  • ratings
  • Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

  • A Sortabiography
  • By: Eric Idle
  • Narrated by: Eric Idle
  • Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 302
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 279
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 279

We know him best for his unforgettable roles on Monty Python - from the Flying Circus to The Meaning of Life. Now, Eric Idle reflects on the meaning of his own life in this entertaining memoir that takes us on a remarkable journey from his childhood in an austere boarding school through his successful career in comedy, television, theatre and film.  

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Pop Idle!

  • By Simon on 02-10-18

A good (if rather plodding) performance from Idle

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

Reviewed: 16-01-19

interesting stories with good jokes dropped in-between. Idle covers a lot of aspects of his life including python antics, filming, and his superstar friends. My only complaint is that the content can occasionally be a bit dry and meticulous. Idle does his best to perform the book in Spike Milligan style cadence, but doesn't have as many jokes to fill in with. A worthy listen.

  • Extreme Ownership

  • How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
  • By: Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
  • Narrated by: Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,997
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,781
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,772

An updated edition of the blockbuster best-selling leadership book that took America and the world by storm, two US Navy SEAL officers who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War demonstrate how to apply powerful leadership principles from the battlefield to business and life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Life-enriching book

  • By Simon on 14-08-18

Some fairly basic business advice

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

Reviewed: 14-12-18

Well spoken by the narrator, and the advice is well presented and meaningful. That said the narrator does spend a LOT of time praising his own military unit. So much so that it can become tiresome to listen to. The principles which are *eventually* described are useful for management and leadership, but they are also mainly fairly obvious.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Day of the Jackal

  • By: Frederick Forsyth
  • Narrated by: David Rintoul
  • Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 650
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 551
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 551

One of the most celebrated thrillers ever written, The Day of the Jackal is the electrifying story of an anonymous Englishman who in, the spring of 1963, was hired by Colonel Marc Rodin, Operations Chief of the O. A. S., to assassinate General de Gaulle.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The best Forsyth novel meets a great narrator

  • By Jernau Gurgeh on 13-01-12

Excellent reader, and a classic and concise novel

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

Reviewed: 25-08-18

Really enjoyed listening to this one, fills in a lot of gaps left by the film (which is excellent too). The narrator got the tense moments right, and made a good effort of the accents and characters. Definitely recommend!

  • Contemporary Art

  • A Very Short Introduction
  • By: Julian Stallabrass
  • Narrated by: James Conlan
  • Length: 4 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8

Contemporary art has never been so popular - but what is 'contemporary' about contemporary art? What is its role today, and who is controlling its future? Julian Stallabrass takes us inside the international art world to answer these and other controversial questions, and to argue that behind contemporary art's variety and apparent unpredictability lies a grim uniformity. Its mysteries are all too easily explained, its depths much shallower than they seem.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting, brief, but bland recitation

  • By John W on 06-05-18

Interesting, brief, but bland recitation

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

Reviewed: 06-05-18

Quite a good listen, with dense subject matter being well explained, only brought low by a monotone narrator who pushed too quickly through every line, with little interest in how characterless he sounded. You end up having to relisten to whole sections because it was so quickly and summarily skimmed through.

I couldn't help feeling that Stallabrass has something of a weakness for utopian liberalism as he tends to associate everything in the art world with it. He recognises that it is trendy to make art that promotes liberal agendas, but stops coyly short of actually confirming that this is generally to guarantee financial return, not out of any ideological allegiance.

  • Down and Out in Paris and London

  • By: George Orwell
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Northam
  • Length: 6 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 766
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 664
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 657

An autobiographical study, Down and Out in Paris and London follows Orwell as he tramps around both Paris and London. Pawning his belongings to buy food, unemployment, drinking heavily and jostling for a place in homeless hostels are but a few of the experiences related with candour and insight in this unabridged exclusive audiobook. Orwell was arguably one of the first 'gonzo' journalists.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb

  • By Richard Blant on 20-07-15

A well read novel, worth the listen

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

Reviewed: 01-01-17

This was a good choice of narrator for what can be a difficult book to stick with. Orwells story of living rough in paris and London is quite absorbing, despite examining the woes of homelessness quite directly. The detailed descriptions of bum fights, hunger, sleeping outdoors or in any place that will grant shelter, and working in any place that will take you are engrossing and you can really sense the atmosphere. The narrator does a great job of speaking clearly and he gets the different character voices right. Yes, I recommend this, it's a gritty but entertaining listen.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • History's Great Military Blunders and the Lessons They Teach

  • By: The Great Courses, Gregory S. Aldrete
  • Narrated by: Gregory S. Aldrete
  • Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94

Military history often highlights successes and suggests a sense of inevitability about victory, but there is so much that can be gleaned from considering failures. Study these crucibles of history to gain a better understanding of why a civilization took - or didn't take - a particular path.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting content with a truly awful narration.

  • By John W on 30-11-15

Interesting content with a truly awful narration.

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

Reviewed: 30-11-15

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A more fluid narration! The guy who reads this audiobook is very clearly reading the content from a script. His speech stops and starts and emphasises in all the wrong places. Its like listening to William Shatner struggling with a script !

If the book was read by somebody who could speak in a steady and confident manner it would fare much better, but sadly the narrator of this version sounds robotic, unusual, stuttering and impossible to listen to with any amount of concentration.

What was one of the most memorable moments of History's Great Military Blunders and the Lessons They Teach?

I'm not sure. Because I was so put off by the narrator's manner of speaking I stopped listening after a few chapters. The chapter about the battle of the Crater was quite interesting i guess.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Professor Gregory S. Aldrete, PhD?

Stephen Fry? Patrick Stewart? Quite frankly anyone who can hold together a deep, wise, and unwavering tone.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The content itself was relatively interesting - its just a shame it was presented in such a mispronounced, stuttering, odd and disjointed fashion.

Any additional comments?

Dont buy it unless you can put up with slow reading and mispronunciation.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles

  • By: Bernard Cornwell
  • Narrated by: Dugald Bruce Lockhart, Bernard Cornwell
  • Length: 8 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 283
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 256
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 254

On the 18th June, 1815, the armies of France, Britain, and Prussia descended upon a quiet valley south of Brussels. In the previous three days the French army had beaten the British at Quatre Bras and the Prussians at Ligny. The Allies were in retreat. The blood-soaked battle of Waterloo would become a landmark in European history, to be examined over and again, not least because until the evening of the 18th, the French army was close to prevailing on the battlefield.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A little loose and undramatic

  • By John W on 16-07-15

A little loose and undramatic

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

Reviewed: 16-07-15

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Probably wouldnt recommend this to a friend, no. It jumps backwards and forwards in time, repeats minor details with aggravating regularity, and even misses out key parts of the battle in order to focus on minor events. The story rambles back and forth between dramatic scenes and entirely bland stock information. It becomes entirely impossible to feel engrossed in the battle as precious little is seen from the perspective of those involved. The author spends too much time arguing about how much of his own writing is affected by conjecture and hearsay - a tendency which entirely removes the listener from the drama. Even though there are a lot of interesting facts thrown into this story - it is told in a very dry manner, with the narrator giving no indication of excitement at key points in the battle. I couldnt help but feel that, had the story been written by someone like Anthony Beevor, it would have contained far more cutting drama, more chilling facts and more intense and descriptive narration.

Would you be willing to try another book from Bernard Cornwell? Why or why not?

As I understand it, this is one of Cornwell's first forays into Non-Fiction. I certainly hope that he involved more intensity in his description of events in other works, because the visualisation of events in this audiobook are very weak. I never felt involved at all. I'd give his other stuff a try. He seems to be a decent enough writer, with good control over the facts, but he seems simply unwilling to chain together events in a dramatic manner, instead choosing to whip back and forth between (sometimes minor) events.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The period when the battlefield was being populated and the placement of the troops was intriguing. This was were Cornwell shone. He managed to keep the listener interested during this sequence to really get an idea of where everything was. Its a shame that the battle itself, and the destruction of the regiments involved, was not translated with more vigourous grammar.

Could you see Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

Well, Waterloo certainly has already been a film, and would benefit from being revisited by someone who has excellent control of CGI - but I think it would have to feel a lot more dramatic, panoramic, vicious and personal than this interpretation.

Any additional comments?

If you have a spare credit it might be worth a listen - but if you are looking for the close up action of war, this will a rather dry listen.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • What Are You Looking At?

  • 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye
  • By: Will Gompertz
  • Narrated by: Roy McMillan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 122
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 108
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 108

Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable audiobook edition of What Are You Looking At? by Will Gompertz, read by Roy McMilllan. What is modern art? Why do we either love it or loathe it? And why is it worth so much damn money? Join Will Gompertz on a dazzling tour that will change the way you look at modern art forever. From Monet's water lilies to Van Gogh's sunflowers, from Warhol's soup cans to Hirst's pickled shark, hear the stories behind the masterpieces, meet the artists as they really were, and discover the real point of modern art.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Its a great listen. Intelligent and engaging.

  • By douglas on 16-09-16

strong overview of recent art history

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

Reviewed: 28-03-15

well narrated and well connected story of recent developments in art from impressionism onwards. well worth a listen. very entertaining.