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Pierz Newton-John

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  • 13
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  • 14
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A slanted view tainted by romanticism

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

Reviewed: 15-12-2019

No two historians would likely come up with the same list of the 37 "most important" events in history, so it would be pointless to carp on individual inclusions and exclusions. However Rufus Fears has chosen a very American, very Christian perspective on history that at times had me rolling my eyes for its uncritical mythologising of historical characters and events. Fears also frequently devolves from neutral historical narrative into an orotund mode that sits somewhere between sermonising and storytelling. He declares himself a romantic at one point - unfortunately this romanticism infects his entire delivery and perspective and limits the value of these lectures for a history student whose intention is to better understand the forces that shape the world, not to be impressed by its grand actors and moral drama.

Lucid, balanced, thorough.

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

Reviewed: 25-10-2019

An excellent follow up read/listen to Russell's History of Western Philosophy, bringing the story up to date and covering eastern philosophy as well. My gripe is with the narration. Neil Gardner has a pleasant reading voice, but if you are going to narrate a history of philosophy, your should learn to pronounce the key names, terms and book titles roughly correctly. What's more, what is the exact point of quoting American philosophers in a sometimes embarrassingly bad American accent, while reading everything else in your own accent? It made me burst out laughing (in a bad way) when he first did it halfway through the book. Just read it straight and don't add the distraction of silly accents that do nothing for the listening experience. That said, still giving it 5 stars.

2 people found this helpful

Excellent book but please spare us the accents!

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

Reviewed: 12-07-2018

This is not quite the riveting read that Rhodes' account of the making of the atomic bomb was, but still a very comprehensive and interesting history of the development of energy technologies from the start of the coal age. Jacques Roy has a pleasant voice to listen to, but he has alas fallen prey to the pernicious fashion for reading historical quotes in the accent of the person being quoted. Unfortunately his accents are truly execrable and do nothing but annoy and distract. Please Audible narrators, just stop it.

1 person found this helpful

An excellent overview of world history in general

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

Reviewed: 15-03-2018

One of the best history audio books I've listened to in terms of extracting the most important information out of the welter of events and making sense of it. Highly recommended. I dislike John Lee's pretentious performances in general and this was no different, but I've almost learned to ignore that by now...

A fascinating and enlightening account

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

Reviewed: 28-12-2017

Thoroughly enjoyed this analysis of how societies develop (and fail to develop) stable political systems. The comparative analysis of the histories of China and India are particularly illuminating in understanding the present state of those countries. Jonathan Davis’s delivery was clear and free of unnecessary and distra flourishes like bad accents for quotations.

Interesting analysis, but quit with the accents already!

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

Reviewed: 12-11-2017

I’m not sure where the mania came from among Audible readers for performing every quote in the supposed accent of its author, but it should stop. Even among gifted voice actors it serves little purpose other than to impress you with the reader’s mimicry, and is mainly just distracting. In the case of John Sackville, the accents range from passable (Scottish) to terrible (New Zealand), and it detracts from the experience. It’s a history book not a radio play. It’s a pity because Sackville has a pleasant reading voice and nothing extra needs to be added. That gripe over, the book is an interesting take on various significant historical epochs and events, examining them as it does through the lens of the “network”. This does sometimes provide novel insights, though at other times the role of the network seems rather tenuous, with the result that the book can seem a little unfocused.

5 people found this helpful

Fascinating book, annoying delivery

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

Reviewed: 08-02-2017

Sebag Montefiore is a terrific writer of history, and it's not his fault if some of the history related here is so convoluted it's hard to absorb. However the book is not so much read as intoned by John Lee - an irritatingly affected performance in which he sounds like he is reading the Bible itself. Admittedly I'm sensitive to reading style so others may not have a problem with it. It is a damn long book though so download the sample first to see if you mightn't rather just read it yourself.

5 people found this helpful

Gripping

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

Reviewed: 01-12-2016

A fascinating and entertaining history of an overlooked and maligned empire. The chapter on the final fall of Constantinople is particularly fine.

An interesting analysis of the nature of political folly throughout history.

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

Reviewed: 14-11-2016

Although written more than 30 years ago, Tuchman's analysis hasn't dated much, and the same principles of folly can be seen operating as strongly as ever today - the Iran and Afghanistan wars being the obvious and depressing examples. A couple of elements of the narration grated, however. The narrator seemed to feel she had to render quotations in the accent of the original speaker, yet the result was unconvincing and distracted from the content. Also, she has a bizarre and ultimately teeth-grating way of pronouncing "non-" as "none", thus reading "non-communist" as "none-communist", for example. A tiny point, but annoying as a grain of sand in your eye (at least to me!).