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Paul

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  • reviews
  • 31
  • helpful votes
  • 118
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  • The Night Before Christmas

  • By: Clement C. Moore
  • Narrated by: Rascal Flatts
  • Length: 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

For over a decade, country music superstars Rascal Flatts have built a special relationship with the kids at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt through annual performances and fund-raisers. In 2018 they poured their hearts into a reading of Clement C. Moore’s iconic holiday classic "A Visit from St. Nicholas" for their most cherished audience. The Night Before Christmas audiobook builds on that performance to spread holiday cheer beyond Nashville, as an accompaniment to yuletide festivities anywhere or as the perfect story to encourage "visions of sugar-plums" (a quote from the poem!) at bedtime.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful Festive story - perfect for bedtimes

  • By Paul on 20-02-19

Wonderful Festive story - perfect for bedtimes

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

Reviewed: 20-02-19

This was a free download at Christmas, which I chose for my children, due to their intense excitement and love of reading the book with me. Turning the light off, putting this on and letting it play out works very well the settle them. Tip, I found playing it slightly slower worked well.

The ebulliently named Rascal Flatts reads it well, with good animation, although it feels a little fast (hence suggestion above to slow it down slightly). Some may dislike the soft American reading, but that's personal preference.

Watch out for the 'Audible hopes you have enjoyed this programme' at the end - Audible PLEASE can you remove (or replace with a quieter version) this from children's titles and any sleep related titles?

  • Blitzed

  • Drugs in Nazi Germany
  • By: Norman Ohler, Shaun Whiteside - translator
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 269
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 248
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 248

The Nazis presented themselves as warriors against moral degeneracy. Yet, as Norman Ohler's gripping best seller reveals, the entire Third Reich was permeated with drugs: cocaine, heroin, morphine and, most of all, methamphetamines, or crystal meth, used by everyone from factory workers to housewives, and crucial to troops; resilience - even partly explaining German victory in 1940.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • very interesting

  • By Sam on 12-02-17

An excellently researched new insight

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

Reviewed: 13-08-17

A genuinely new insight into a much studied period of history.

This should be read by anybody with an interest in the Second World War or the abhorrent depths of the Nazi leadership of Germany.

Perhaps it goes some way to explaining the unprecedented progress of the Wehrmacht invasions (on both Western and Eastern fronts) and the effectiveness (however much one would prefer not to acknowledge it) of the German soldier throughout the war. As well as the startling degradation of Hitler in the latter stages of the conflict.

I first heard of this title in Dan Snow's History Hit podcast, and I'm grateful to him for highlighting this fascinating and surprising title. I expect it'll influence the analysis of other historians work in future.

An important and welcome addition to cannon.

  • Spoils

  • By: Brian Van Reet
  • Narrated by: Armando Duran, Mr Andrew Eiden, Ms Nicol Zanzarella
  • Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

It is the spring of 2003, and coalition forces are advancing on Iraq. Images of a giant statue of Saddam Hussein crashing to the ground in Baghdad are being beamed to news channels around the world. Nineteen-year-old Specialist Cassandra Wigheard, on her first deployment since joining the US Army two years earlier, is primed for war. For Abu al-Hool, a jihadist since the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, war is wearing thin.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A realistic and more nuanced story

  • By Paul on 25-07-17

A realistic and more nuanced story

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

Reviewed: 25-07-17

I enjoyed the multiple perspectives of the novel and the unflinching examination of the second Iraq war.

it's a good foil to all those war memoirs.

  • Men in Green Faces

  • A Novel of U.S. Navy SEALs
  • By: Gene Wentz, B. Abell Jurus
  • Narrated by: Jeff Gurner
  • Length: 10 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 18

Gene Wentz's Men in Green Faces is the classic novel of Vietnam that inspired a generation of SEALs. Here is the story of a good soldier trained to be part of an elite team of warriors - and of the killing grounds where he was forever changed. Gene Michaels carries an M-60, 800 rounds, and a Bible. The ultimate SEAL, he also carries a murderous grudge against a bloodthirsty colonel who was once one of their own.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Well written

  • By Axel on 03-10-16

Vintage SEAL memoir

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

Reviewed: 19-07-16

This is set in the Mekong delta and portrays the riverine activities of the 'brown river navy'.

It is written in the 3rd person, presumably as Wentz is a SEAL not a writer. This is OK, but i found myself wondering how much of the action was 100% accurate as a result.

It's written like most of these books in a mix of hoo-rah chest beating and God and country ideals. Normally I don't find this as distracting, but here it grates a little. Perhaps due to the 3rd person?

Overall it's a good addition to the genre, but not the best about the SEALs in Vietnam (SOG: the secret wars of America's commandos in Vietnam is a good recommendation, but not available from Audible).

  • The Hunter Killers

  • By: Dan Hampton
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 11 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36

A gripping chronicle of the band of maverick aviators who signed on for the suicidal, dangerous top-secret "Wild Weasel" missions during the Vietnam War - which used controversial and revolutionary tactics to combat Soviet missile technology - from New York Times best-selling author Dan Hampton.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Slightly frustrating

  • By Lis Speight on 06-02-17

Wild Weasel history padded with air war history

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

Reviewed: 15-07-16

This isn't just a history of the Wild Weasels, but includes wider explanation of the overall conflict and aspects of the air campaign. I had expected it to cover pretty much the Wild Weasel project only so while the information added context and the changes to the political environment in the US, it felt like the extra is there to pad out the Wild Weasel history.

Most of the information is useful (especially about the air war) and it doesn't shy from criticising poor political and military decision making in the US. And it will help remind even those with a broader understanding of what was occurring when. However some of it is patchy, can lack specific sources and makes sweeping statements about complex issues; describing the motivations of Churchill during WW2 as only focused on preserving the British empire or using the term 'rabble' to describe the Black Panthers are gross over simplifications and really jar compared to the thoroughness elsewhere.

Where it sticks to its subject it's a compassionate examination of the very brave and driven aviators who flew these missions. It doesn't present much from a Vietnamese perspective and there are very few Vietnamese sources, which is where the book could have done more.
It also includes a useful appendix which gives a concise history of the French and US involvement, as well as the Chinese and Russian influences between the end of the Second World War and the US escalation in Indochina.

The narrator misses some pronunciations, but otherwise does a creditable job with the text. Overall it's an interesting book, but not quite what it looks like from the blurb.

  • Countdown to Zero Day

  • Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
  • By: Kim Zetter
  • Narrated by: Joe Ochman
  • Length: 13 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 200
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 187
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 187

Top cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter tells the story behind the virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear efforts and shows how its existence has ushered in a new age of warfare - one in which a digital attack can have the same destructive capability as a megaton bomb.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Intriguing story - well told!

  • By N. Dwyer on 18-04-15

The 1st cyber weapon and a bit more...

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

Reviewed: 07-07-16

What made the experience of listening to Countdown to Zero Day the most enjoyable?

This is a good history of the Stuxnet worm, the individuals who helped uncover what it was and a wider study of the cyberwarfare landscape and implications. You do not need to have an IT or computing background - it is sufficiently well written (Zetter has worked for Wired and PC World) for those interested in foreign policy, the middle east, post-revolutionary Iran and popular science and technology titles.
It explains the background to the worm's development, the investigations of Stuxnet (and the similar/related tools discovered), the political environment and some reasonable assumptions about which governments were involved and how was it actually deployed. The author had good access to those involved, academics, think tanks and governmental contacts to ensure this isn't all supposition. And is honest about where information is thin or inconclusive.
It also covers a reasonable history of the Iranian nuclear program and viruses/worms/cyber crime and offensive cyber activities - so those with less knowledge in these areas won't be left behind. The last couple of chapters includes a comprehensive set of questions and arguments about cyber warfare and what implications it has for future government policy, international law and the conduct of warfare.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The main teams who investigated Stuxnet from Symatec, Kaspersky and the independent researchers.

Have you listened to any of Joe Ochman’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No this is the first of his work. He narrated the title well, there was the usual US pronunciation of Iran with a hard I, but it wasn't distracting.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The implications of cyber-warfare/crime and the gross under-preparedness and vulnerability that our connected, always on, Internet of Things lifestyle exposes us to. That there hasn't been a serious attack yet is frankly amazing.

Any additional comments?

Even if you aren't very technical it is an eye-opening account and worth the 13 hours listening time. It didn't drag and I thought it was fascinating.

  • Harrier Boys, Volume 1

  • From the Cold War Through the Falklands, 1969-1990
  • By: Robert Marston
  • Narrated by: Roger Davis
  • Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 56

In Harrier Boys, Volume One: Cold War Through the Falklands, 1969-1990, Robert Marston, who flew Harriers for many years, draws together accounts from others who worked with this unique jet through its history. The excitement, camaraderie, and pride of Harrier operators shine through in the personal stories of those whose lives were changed by their experience of this iconic aircraft, both on land and at sea.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Experiences and Anedcotes

  • By Paul on 20-06-16

Experiences and Anedcotes

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

Reviewed: 20-06-16

Volume 1 covers the introductions of the Harrier into service, the development of the type through the GR.3 and 5 versions and of course the Falkland campaign.

It's composed of different pilots (and one ground crew) relating their experiences of training for, flying, fighting and living as Harrier pilots. The books gives about half of the time over to the RAF version and their histories, the remainder covers the Fleet Air Arm, US Marine exchanges, initial development and the crew and senior officer view points.

By it's nature it doesn't have a strong narrative structure, but it does work well and where individuals contributions cross over, (self) editing is highlighted and the reader is aware of where the content exists later in the book.

I'd recommend this to anybody with more than a passing interest in the Harrier, RAF forward operations in Germany during the cold war or anybody who is interested in the development of new aircraft and their entry into service. It's number of contributors and the vast scope of the Harrier's operational life in the RAF ensure that it is a lively and interesting read.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Arms Maker of Berlin

  • By: Dan Fesperman
  • Narrated by: Jeff Harding
  • Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 18

At 1 a.m. in a deserted Pennsylvania library, Nat Turnbull's cell phone rings. His former mentor, Professor Gordon Wolfe, has been arrested by the FBI for stealing top-secret archive documents dating back to the Second World War.

Coerced by the FBI into examining the archives, Nat finds intriguing references both to Wolfe's activities in an Allied intelligence office during the war and to a mysterious student resistance group in Berlin known as the White Rose.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An arm chair read

  • By Robin on 03-11-09

German history revealed

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

Reviewed: 11-04-16

This is an interesting book that sets itself in the last couple of years of the second world war, the communist police state and the post wall Germany.
This is not another Nazi Germany sorry, the third Reich is just the setting, not the story, so please don't pass on it thinking it's another WW2 spy/special operations thriller.

The story uses the White Rose movement (a student anti-Nazi peaceful protest group made famous by the story of Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans) as a thread to link the civil experience of the war, briefly the post-war DDR and then post-wall Germany. There is some depth here with nuances about German identity and language used to develop the plot and characters. This is neither too over done or superficial that it'll put the majority of readers off.

It gets going quite quickly and I found the narration clear and nicely paced. Some of the female voices sounded a little similar, but the text is well written and there is no confusion.

Overall this is a solid story with fleshed out characters and a well structured plot. It is no le Carre or Len Deighton, but then not everything can be. I would happily recommend it.

  • Our Man in Havana

  • By: Graham Greene
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Northam
  • Length: 7 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 818
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 713
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 709

In a legendary novel that appears to predict the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Graham Greene introduces James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman whose life in transformed when he is asked to join the British Secret Service. He agrees, and finds himself with no information to offer, so begins to invent sources and agencies which do not exist, but which appear very real to his superiors.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Shame about the music

  • By DD Kaplan on 27-07-10

Excellent narration and story, let down by music

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

Reviewed: 11-02-16

A great audio book - perfect length, well written story with great narration. What's not to like? Well the awful lift music preceding each chapter, location change or plot element for one! Whoever thought that was good idea needs to change careers and why is it so long, there were sections of a couple of minutes at times? It only serves to break up the narrative and annoy - CSA Word take note please.

However, please do persevere with this title. It's the only version available on Audible (in the UK at least).

Jeremy Northam does a sterling job with the characters and sets the right tone - finding the comedy without going to far.

Greene's Havana is pre-Castro and populated with foreigners who all seem to have a second (or third) motive. The main protagonist is an Englishman getting in over his head in the world of espionage.

As others have noted there is a change between the sections in Cuba and London, the heat and alcohol being replaced with smog and damp. Greene's characters feel well created with depth, ambiguity and their own motives. He takes a few well aimed pokes at the establishment and those in public positions. And, a few plot points are tied up a little too neatly. However it's a great novel and we'll worth your time, just skip over the awful musical interludes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • John le Carré

  • The Biography
  • By: Adam Sisman
  • Narrated by: Michael Jayston
  • Length: 26 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 206
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 188
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 183

In this definitive biography - blessed by John le Carré himself - Adam Sisman reveals the man behind the best-selling persona. In John le Carré, Sisman shines a spotlight on David Cornwell, an expert at hiding in plain sight - "born to lying," he wrote in 2002, "bred to it, trained to it by an industry that lies for a living, practiced in it as a novelist."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Riveting

  • By Francis on 21-10-15

Le Carre's People

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

Reviewed: 01-02-16

Would you consider the audio edition of John le Carré to be better than the print version?
The reading by Michael Jayston does bring an additional element to the biography, without labouring the point he adds accents and intimation to the text.

Who was your favorite character and why?
The main 'character' is John Le Carre/David Cornwell - and as the book progresses it becomes clear that there is a real element of living a character to Cornwell's life. As the blurb says, this is the definitive biography. If you have a passing interest in Le Carre then you may find this rather heavy going.
However if you have enjoyed his novels or been interested in aspects of his life then this is a wonderful examination of his life, some of the contradictions in his interviews and the personality who created, Leamas, Karla, Smiley et al.

What about Michael Jayston’s performance did you like?
He adds moderate accents and delivers the text confidently. Mostly I enjoyed the familiarity of his voice - he plays Guillam in the BBC's Tinker Tailor and narrates many of Le Carre's audio books. Like all good narrators, after a while you forget who is narrating the work and just absorb their reading.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, it's a biography of considerable depth and breadth. I wanted to listen to reasonable size chunks at once, but not the whole book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful