LISTENER

Steven

Musselburgh, United Kingdom
  • 2
  • reviews
  • 8
  • helpful votes
  • 2
  • ratings
  • Belching Out the Devil

  • Global Adventures with Coca Cola
  • By: Mark Thomas
  • Narrated by: Victor Villar-Hauser
  • Length: 9 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7

Coca-Cola and its logo are everywhere. In our homes, our workplaces, and even our schools. It is a company that sponsors the Olympics, backs US presidents and even re-brands Santa Claus. A truly universal product, it has even been served in space. From Istanbul to Mexico City, Mark Thomas travels the globe investigating the stories and people Coca-Cola's iconic advertising campaigns don't mention.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Worthy tale ruined by poor delivery

  • By Steven on 22-07-13

Worthy tale ruined by poor delivery

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

Reviewed: 22-07-13

How Mark Thomas must regret not doing his own reading of his work here. As a piece of writing, Belching Out The Devil is a perfectly decent piece of travel/activism literature, but this audiobook sadly fails to capture any of the passion Thomas clearly has for his subject matter.

It could be argued that an attack on Coca-Cola is a rather obvious target. Surely in today's age of political and communication awareness only the most cripplingly naïve could think that a global multi-billion dollar behemoth as ubiquitous as Coke could have reached its level of success by purely magnanimous methods. Nonetheless Thomas does a good job of seeking out the human side of Coca-Cola's practices, most tellingly in central/south America, where unionisation is looked upon as akin to terrorism. One can hardly accuse Thomas of not putting in the miles to cover his tale, as he travels through El Salvador, India, Turkey, Mexico and El Salvador to uncover Coke's nefarious, and sometimes downright revolting exploitation of working people to improve the company's profit margin, but interestingly it is the aspects more recognisable to Western tastes that make the most impact. Things like a wonderful description of the gaudy propaganda of "The World of Coca-Cola" Museum in Atlanta, and a terrific exchange between Thomas and a Coke PR representative, who accuses the comedian of bullying the company!

However, surprisingly little of Thomas' humour comes through in this audiobook. Admittedly subjects like the tear-gassing of families on a plant sit-in are hardly subjects rich in comedy, but it is disappointing that one of the finest stand-ups the UK has produced in recent years seems a little cautious in his approach, relying on statistics when a little more righteous anger wouldn't go amiss.

Unfortunately the reason for this may have much to do with Victor Villar-Hauser's reading, which really does Thomas' work no favours whatsoever. Reading an unabridged audiobook is a strenuous duty, but sadly it appears one that is beyond the actor, whose flat, monotonous delivery grates early and leads to listening to the book becoming quite a chore. Worse still are the errors Villar-Hauser makes throughout the book, with emphasis being put on incorrect words throughout the text, leading to many of the points Thomas is trying to make being lost entirely. One is given the distinct impression that Villar-Hauser is reading the book for the first time, and this - like sugar and caffeine free cola - leaves a very nasty taste.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Gaffer: The Trials and Tribulations of a Football Manager

  • By: Neil Warnock
  • Narrated by: Neil Warnock
  • Length: 9 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 377
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 355
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 354

For the very first time, and straight from the horse's mouth, a top manager's intriguing insights into the daily trials and tribulations, the joyous peaks and soul-destroying troughs of life as a football 'gaffer'. Ever wondered how a transfer deal is done? What a manager says during his pre-match team-talk? What he screams from the technical area? What goes on in training sessions, and on those long away trips? How a manager carefully builds a team, and what he does when the planning is disrupted by injuries?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A very pleasant surprise

  • By Steven on 22-07-13

A very pleasant surprise

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

Reviewed: 22-07-13

Neil Warnock could lay claim to being one of British football's most divisive characters. For someone who has held relatively little experience managing in the top flight, there can be few fans that don’t hold an opinion on him, regardless if he has managed at one of their clubs. Often described as “footballing Marmite”, Warnock (not unlike one of his former players Joey Barton) is a figure either loved or detested by most who have witnessed his outspoken post-match interviews, or opinions on others in the game (opinions which, as Warnock himself admits in this book, were occasionally given before he was fully aware of the facts surrounding them.)

I will admit to being a fan of Warnock, and someone who was often rather baffled by the vitriol spat his way. In a sport where opinions from the biggest names are sanitised by publicists to the point of inanity, characters like Warnock are often a fascinating diversion, whether referring to El-Hadji Diouf as a “sewer rat” or accusing an opposing goalkeeper of falling a little too dramatically after being assaulted by a fan of Warnock’s Leeds team. This book is unlikely to transform opinion of him one way or another, but there is a great deal to admire in this audiobook.

Not least of which is Warnock’s fine reading of it. It would have been very easy to allow some gruff Yorkshire-twanged thespian to apply their tones here, but Warnock is clearly proud of his book, and manfully works through it in a clear, pleasant manner, whilst never tempering his accent. Olivier he ain’t, but audible biography usually works so much better when read by the subject, and Warnock’s media work (particularly his radio-presenting experience) is much in evidence here.

Warnock also deserves credit for his approach. There is little mention of the “working-class roots…..loving parents…all I wanted to do was play football” humdrum that the first 100 pages or so of most football autobiographies are wasted on. Instead we are thrown into the ordeal of a major club (Crystal Palace) being hit by administration, and – save for a few references to Warnock’s days as a journeyman professional player and rookie manager – we stay in the world of modern day football management. Critics of Warnock’s tactical nous will point out that we learn comparatively less about the strategic side of organising a team on the pitch compared to the political and financial side of assembling one, but there are still some interesting insights to be had there, and to his credit Warnock doesn’t shy away from his side of stories he knows we want to hear. So we get his take on the aforementioned Diouf story, which took an extra twist when Warnock later signed the player for Leeds. He also gives his thoughts of losing his position at Queen’s Park Rangers, and supplies a fascinating insight into what goes on away from the Sky Sports News cameras on transfer deadline day.

It’s not perfect by any means. If Warnock is to be believed, little that has gone wrong in his career or at any of his clubs is even remotely his fault, and his writing at times strays from the point a little easily, which can lead to some rather bizarre “Alan Partridge” style moments in the audiobook, such as where he gives an amusingly in-depth description of his regular motorway service haunts.

Ultimately though this is a fine effort by Warnock. An interesting and well-read look at a maddening, fascinating and sometimes very lonely profession, by a man who may at times be accurately described the same way.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful