ETA: I cannot stop thinking about my star rating. I personally did NOT like this book. That isn't to say it is a bad book, but you have to be ready foETA: I cannot stop thinking about my star rating. I personally did NOT like this book. That isn't to say it is a bad book, but you have to be ready for a lot of gossip! I am changing my rating to one star because that is my personal response tot this book. Please read below for a more detailed explanation of the book's content.
While I listened to this audiobook narrated by Carole Boyd I pushed myself to go on. It was that disagreeable….until the end when I was happy I had stuck it out. This book is extremely gossipy. The narration exaggerates this to the point where I could hardly stand it. (Boyd’s French was well executed; I have to praise what I can!) Bertie's life WAS filled with gossip - slander and mistresses and gambling and immoral behavior. He was gossiped about constantly until his death when he was adored. You cannot write a biography of Edward VII, the son of Queen Victoria, without writing about the gossip too. The author’s writing contains tons of gossip, and the narrator is not really at fault when she whispers and draws out sentences, shrieking alternately. The content is gossip and she delivers it in a gossipy manner. But I didn't enjoy it. We are told gossip and then told that probably isn't even true. I was so annoyed I would exclaim, “Then do NOT tell us!” I am wrong because this is what people were saying and the biography should tell us all. The book is clearly very well researched, so I have to give it three stars. No, I didn't enjoy the reading experience, but that is due to my error in choosing an historical figure that would not be to my liking.
What is very interesting is what Edward VII achieved in his reign. He was a political force to contend with, despite the fact that he never gave up his adulterous behavior. The Entente Cordiale was to a large extent of his making.
An additional reason why I had trouble with this book is that Bertie was close-mouthed. He listened. He didn't talk. He never said what he thought so we cannot get inside his head. We can only watch what he does. Neither is this the author's fault.
The double standard of the Victorian Age is extremely evident in this book. This too annoyed ME!
I learned more about Queen Victoria, specifically what she did after the death of her beloved Albert. I highly recommend We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals, but it stops with his death and her role as Queen has to be followed to the end to really understand her. On the other hand Ridley's book does little to elucidate why Queen Victoria's personality; in this book there is no discussion of her youth.
If you don't want the emphasis on the gossipy tone of the book, I recommend reading the paper book over listening to the audiobook. I really hated much of the time spent with this audiobook, but in that it is so well researched I am giving it three stars. And the end was extremely interesting, there is history and facts of a more political nature, that is the years when he was king, and when he was free of Queen Victoria. ...more
What drew me to this book was a funny quote of Warren Buffet. It is found in this book: "(Gold) gets dug out of the ground in Africa or someplace. TheWhat drew me to this book was a funny quote of Warren Buffet. It is found in this book: "(Gold) gets dug out of the ground in Africa or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head."
That made me laugh. I didn’t laugh that much more.
I am glad I read the book. It draws a clear picture of what it really meant to take part in the Gold Rush. Who were these people? The poor, the wealthy or the middle class? Why did they go, and what was the state of the world that shoved them in this direction? All of this is clearly described. There were several ways of getting to California, all of them arduous. We follow several different people and how each of them got there. Some men and two women. LOTS of other people are quoted too. Earlier books documenting the Gold Rush in addition to diaries and letters are what form the basis for the story.
I had trouble with the way the book hopped around; you never fastened on any one person. Some of the people crossing the continent were going to California NOT for the gold, but rather to colonize California! Others traveled via Panama or Mexico, others around Cape Horn. Skipping around from individual to individual you don't really get close to any one person, and that is what I always look for in a book. The author did what he could though by adding an epilogue which explained what happened to five of the central characters AFTER the Gold Rush.
Once there in California, the book discusses how the gold was mined and how the mining changed with time - from single individuals to men working in teams with hydraulic hoses. There is little about how the gold was cashed in. Was it bought up at a government agency? What is discussed is how the miners spent it - gambling and boozing and the inflation of costs. And racism that revealed itself here too.
One thing bothered me from start to finish. What makes history are crises and calamities. At least to some extent there has to be an overload on the negatives. It was good that one of the women characters the book follows never regretted her choice. She left her children and traveled westward with her husband. Women were a scarce commodity in the West. She adored the dazzle of California, the independence it afforded and the wonderful possibility of making something out of nothing. Quick wealth was tantalizing, but never easy, as all soon found out. All sought success, monetary success. This woman finally returned to Maine since her daughter would not move.
Finally the author draws these early Californians and shows how they have shaped the character, the spirit of present day California. Maybe that is so. I don't know. Are they more entrepreneurial, rowdier and more cosmopolitan than other Americans? Are they more willing to take risks? I think ALL Americans are entrepreneurial, lovers of independence and equality, competitive and value financial success. Steve Jobs states one has to be willing to fight so hard, put yourself so far out on a limb that you may even fall off. To really succeed you have to be willing to even accept failure. A roller coaster career is the only real way to success. Anyhow, this discussion was interesting.
Parts were repetitive. I understood how dangerous it was - the many illnesses, the deluges and the deserts, the working conditions, the lack of food, the violence, the degree to which gold or no gold was pure luck. That is a huge psychological burden. It is just that the book returned to the same points over and over again, and I began wondering if a more positive view would have been given had the author chosen other letters to quote. But they are not so exciting, are they? No seriously, I would rather read about these people than search for gold myself!
I didn't like the narrator's (Bernard Setaro Clark's) exaggerated gruffness used for some of the men, particularly Israel Lord. Neither the author nor the narrator knew how he sounded, so please, let me imagine that. Other than the quotes, the narration was fine and it had a good speed. ...more
While it does not provide new information, it recaptures the sense of the calamity that struck the nation and the world. It is definitely worth listening to, both for those who remember and those too young to remember....more
ETA: I have to add something about the humor in this book...... Both the disgusting antics of the parent and the moral depravity of the era is expressETA: I have to add something about the humor in this book...... Both the disgusting antics of the parent and the moral depravity of the era is expressed through innuendos, irony and sarcasm. So yes there is humor in the lines; we can either laugh or cry.
This book is primarily about Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales (1796 – 1817). She was the only child of George, Prince of Wales, who later became King George IV. Her mother was Caroline of Brunswick. Had she not died in childbirth at the age of 21, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom. The book is about her troubled youth, her estranged mother and father and how she came to be married to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the first king of Belgium.
Charlotte's parents were constantly bickering, having affairs and using their daughter as a means of hurting each other. Her parents were hated by the English people. She was loved. One thing this book clearly demonstrates is the extent to which adulterous behavior, scandals and gossip infused royalty and the beginning of the 1800s. Had Charlotte not died, Queen Victoria would never have become Queen. The change in tone that Queen Victoria ushered in can only be understood if one is aware of what came before.
The book gives a good feel of those times and of who Charlotte was. Why she was who she was, and what she had to put up with!
The book zips through all the other members of the family and how Queen Victoria came to power. Zip is the word I want to emphasize. You get rapid summaries of the family tree and events. This is not in-depth and for my taste was way to superficial, but then this book is short and is primarily about Charlotte. I did love learning about her.
The narration by Jilly Bond was NOT to my liking. Charlotte sounds like a baby. All the voices were too exaggerated. Please, just read the text; I don't need all the dramatics! The speed with which the lines are read is rapid. ...more
Before starting this book I didn't want to delve into the details but wanted to understand why some reviewers say this is fiction and others classifyBefore starting this book I didn't want to delve into the details but wanted to understand why some reviewers say this is fiction and others classify it as non-fiction. Wiki to the rescue! I am only copying the relevant information that answers this question:
"Some critics consider Capote's work the original non-fiction novel, although other writers had already explored the genre, such as Rodolfo Walsh in Operación Masacre (1957). The book examines the complex psychological relationship between two parolees who together commit a mass murder. Capote's book also explores the lives of the victims and the effect of the crime on the community in which they lived. In Cold Blood is regarded by critics as a pioneering work of the true crime genre, though Capote was disappointed that the book failed to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Parts of the book, including important details, differ from the real events."
That last sentence explains it all. Now, to the book! And then, on completion, check out Wiki.
Crime books are generally not my cup of tea, but I am very glad I read this book. There is no general rule that cannot be broken. Even the court proceedings were clear, and such usually confuse/bore me. This book is interesting because it thoroughly studies the psychological underpinnings of the criminals, the people in the community where the crime took place and the victims. How all of these people felt and thought and interacted is the central theme of the book. This is what fascinated me.
The book is interesting in its analysis of what is insanity. All aspects of insanity are looked at. How does it arise? What forms can it take? When does/should insanity absolve one a crime?
Finally the book looks at capital punishment by describing particular crimes. Here are examples, not theories.
I have read that Capote spend six years studying the case. All the details are here, but what is exceptional is the fluidity of Capote's writing. These details are woven into a prose that is exciting and easy to follow. Every detail is essential. The reader is just begging for more and more and more details, you keep turning the pages to u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d the emotions the feelings and the thoughts of all involved. And nevertheless I never felt empathy for either Dick or Perry. No, I didn't. I do think by the end I understood what had happened and why. The answers are not all delivered on a platter; you have to think and consider where you stand and what YOU think.
Mixed in with the horrid events are sentences of exceptional beauty; when that happened it hit me with a punch.
Scott Brick narrates the audiobook. It is good except that his voice for women is well awfully masculine. This is not worth deterring you from the audio format. There are many more male characters than women.
This true crime story is well composed, lucid, exciting and will keep your head whirring.
This review is not a summary of the events discussed in the book itself. Instead read the book to learn of America’s expansion westward to the PacificThis review is not a summary of the events discussed in the book itself. Instead read the book to learn of America’s expansion westward to the Pacific in the middle of the 1800sand of fascinating details about Native American customs and beliefs!
The further you get into the story the better and better it gets.
Here is what I liked:
- The atrocities committed by both sides, those by the Indians and those by the conquering Americans, are presented without bias. - These atrocities are factually presented, but also in a moving, manner. - The events are supplemented with interesting details that add depth. - The atrocities committed upset the reader, and they should do just that. - The book both teaches and yet is not dry. - Learning about different Indian tribes and their respective customs was fascinating.
Here is what I had trouble with:
- Unexplained jumps are made between chapters which lead to confusion, maybe more so in an audiobook listening. Yes, you are soon straightened out, if you listen very carefully, but this is annoying. It demands both patience and sometimes rewinds. You can be thrown into a new chapter where you have no idea who the people are! - There is an abundant use of "maybes", "perhaps", "possibly", "it is thought", "it was said to have", "it must have"....and yet if the facts are not known for sure how else should the author express himself! Still, I didn’t enjoy this. - Sorry, but even Hampton Sides captivating prose, doesn't prevent me from falling asleep when listening to military stratagems. There are battles galore; they are NOT my favorite theme. - What exactly IS the central theme of the book? Is it a biography of Kit Carson(1809-1868)? Is it about the opening up of the West? Yes, to both of the above, but its central focus is the history of what happened in New Mexico during the Mexican War and the Civil War in relation to the Indians in this area, the Spanish settlers long residing in this same area and the invading Americans infused by their belief in “Manifest Destiny” - the land was theirs for the taking! The history is woven around Kit Carson’s role in both wars and in the subjugation of the Navajos. You definitely learn a lot of history and you leave the book with an unbiased, realistic understanding of who Kit Carson really was, not just the heroic figure of the "Blood and Thunder" dime novels so popular in the 1800s.
Don Leslie narrates the audiobook. His narration is clear and his tone attempts to enliven the battles with excitement. This works sometimes.
This is a heart-rending episode of American history, one that deserves to be read by all. In this book history is easily swallowed, yeah, maybe even the battles. The book is very, very good. I highly recommend it. What I loved most was learning about Native American beliefs and the gritty truth of the injustices/atrocities committed against them. ...more