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Kirstine

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-08-18

An amazing life

The fact that Hamilton's life can fill 36 hours of engaging and interesting description testifies to what an important figure he was in the birth and establishment of the United States of America. He was an inspiring and talented soldier and in peacetime instrumental in shaping the financial system of the fledgling country. So it all the more surprising that, while Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin are household names, Hamilton's is not. Maybe his early death and the fact that both Adams and Jefferson hated him and went out of their way to denigrate and slander him, often with false accusations to undermine his reputation, when he was alive and that continued after his death enabled them to airbrush Hamilton's contributions out of the historical record. I must say I was surprised by the waste of time and energy expended by the politicians by their internecine conflicts.
The book is not only a biography of this important figure but also an insight into how the USA shed the dominance of the Britain, developed their own political system and started to unpick dependence on slaves as cheap labour.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-08-18

Excellent listen

I've listened to many of the author's books featuring forensic psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin working with former cop Vincent Ruiz. This book is a bit different, for although some detective work is involved, it mainly delves into O'Loughlin's relationships with his parents and the discoveries about his father's hidden life. I found the narrative gripping and romped through the recording in a day and half of intermittent listening. There are no gruesome murders or torture the story being largely about peoples' behaviour and character. O'Loughlin is an engaging character who is disabled by Parkinson's Disease. As with previous books, though disabled, O'Loughlin is depicted in some scenes more like Superman bounding up flights of stairs or hurling himself through a plate glass window: not plausible but it seems a tenent of this genre that it is necessary to have a swashbuckling crescendo to round off the story.
Sean Barrett dramatizes the text with his usual skill.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-07-18

Definitive account of the war in the Far East

Exhaustive research has created what must be the book of record for the Battle for Japan. There is a lot of detail about numbers of tanks, guns, statistics about how many men were involved, killed or injured, etc., which, though often harrowing, is less interesting to the non-military historian, but creates a vivid picture of the enormous efforts made by the protagonists to prevail. It's a story that leaves one saddened by the sheer waste of human life and resources leaving countries devastated for years thereafter. Many more died than would have been the case had the Japanese military not encouraged a perverted code of honour that it is better to die than surrender. I had to take breaks from this long narrative as I found the catalogue of atrocities, largely perpetrated by the Japanese, made for a depressing listen.

The battle for Japan has had less publicity than the European and North African struggles, so this book is an important record of a major event in history. I knew something about the British and American allies against the Japenese, but knew little about the involvement of the Russians and their penetration into Japanese held Manchuria.

The narrator is excellent.

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-07-18

Impressive account of a ground-breaking trial

This is highly detailed account of how the Nuremberg trial was set-up through the co-operation of the four main allies at the end of the second world war. The crimes by the main defendants are alluded to but the main thrust of the book is how, despite the misgivings of some of the participants, international co-operation was achieved and to overcome the difficulties that the lawyers and judges had in creating a legal framework that meshed together the continental and the Anglo-Amercian legal systems of justice.

It is impressive what was achieved in a relatively short time to collate the mass of evidence and to present the cases with simultaneous translation using new technology. The generosity of the Americans in underwriting most of the costs made things run more smoothly than could have been thought possible in a country devastated by war.

The overall impression is of dignified proceedings in which the defendants were given a fair trial, but one is left with the distasteful evidence of how so many people could engage in barbaric behaviour.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-07-18

History made personal

It's a slowly evolving story that kept me listening. I agree with others that the story it is slow, but this gives one time to get to know the fictitious characters. The story is a mix of actual events in the immediate post WW2 period when young Australian brides of British servicemen were transported by sea to the UK in an epic 6 week journey on an aircraft carrier. The story is full of the kind of emotions that these young women must have experienced: would they still love the man they'd married in haste; how would they cope with a new country and would they miss their family back home?

I enjoyed this long book and thought the narrator excellent.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-18

Entertaining

I enjoyed this collection of stories. Well-written, as one might expect, and often full of humour pocking fun at human vanity and snobbery. The stories are varied and encompass such themes as crime, the supernatural and the cares of the human heart.
The narrators are all accomplished performers of audio books and add to the pleasure

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-07-18

I gave up

I realize I'm in the tiny minority here but I was bored by this book. I gave up after about 5 hours of endless domestic trivia. If the book does improve later it takes too long to get there. I found the accent of the narrator too harsh and unpleasant at time.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-06-18

OK but not that good

An unmemorable book that plodded along for the first few hours of the recording. A bit too much over-wrought screeching by the main female character and then more from her female friend. It all seemed very predictable and formulaic. It gathers a bit of pace in the latter part and the unexpected final twist appears from nowhere with no clues laid down so seems an afterthought. It's a time-filler rather than anything special.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 30-06-18

An interesting and chilling series

I've listened to all ten real life crime stories. I remember them all. While having actual recordings of interviews and calls to the emergency services adds veracity to the episodes many are poor quality and difficult to hear. I found the added mood music annoying, especially if at the same time as speech. I often think that programme-makers should listen to what they produce through headphones like most of us use and experience how painful their often too loud sound effects/music are compared to the sound-level of the speech.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-06-18

A superb dissection of the English legal system

I found this a riveting account of the strengths and weaknesses of the English legal system in criminal cases. The author writes with verve and passion that kept me gripped throughout. He charts the history of how English law has evolved over the centuries and how it differs from that in other countries before dissecting the failures in how it operates in the 21st century.

While many things are to be lauded about English Law in practice it is abundantly clear from this book that excessive financial cuts are undermining justice. It is a telling statistic, that the cost of giving the over 75s free TV licences costs more than the funds allocated to run the Crown Prosecution Service. The latter creaking under the weight of too much work and too few people to do it so that justice is compromised. Cuts to the police and legal aid budgets mean that trials are not adequately prepared. Cynical politicians, who respond to populist opinion fuelled by the gutter press calculate that they can cut the justice budget to the bone without losing votes. The popular view of fat-cat lawyers obviously does not apply to those toiling in criminal cases.

The author gives chilling examples of people wrongly accused of a crime who don’t qualify for legal aid (a facility greatly curtailed by recent governments) who even when found innocent are left massively out of pocket with no redress. Even worse are those wrongly convicted, often spending many years in prison, who eventually are shown to be innocent but don’t qualify for any compensation as penny-pinching governments made the criteria to be eligible for compensation so stringent that few receive any redress.

I greatly enjoyed this book but was left depressed by the spectre of even more miscarriages of justice occurring owing to sub-standard trial preparation.

The narrator is excellent and injects the text with the justifiable outrage felt by the author.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful