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The Speed of Light Paperback – 6 Aug 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (6 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747585911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585916
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 891,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

`A deeply affecting novel. A reflection on war, friendship,
success and failure ... Cercas's novel carries a powerful warning for the
war-hungry modern world' -- Scotland on Sunday

`Cercas's writing has echoes of Scott Fitzgerald, in the intense,
shining clarity of its emotion, and of Faulkner' -- Independent

`Presents his narrator's foibles in a lucid, supple prose,
well-matched to the novel's darker elements' -- Financial Times

`This is an intelligent, morally scrupulous book ... a pleasure to
read' -- Sunday Telegraph

`Written with intelligence and humour ... he is a major writer' -- Guardian

From the Publisher

From the bestselling author of Soldiers of Salamis, which is
an international bestseller and winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction
Prize 2005.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Aidan J. McQuade on 13 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
The Speed of Light uses the same author-in-search-of-a-story device as Javier Cercas's previous novel Soldiers of Salamis. At its core the book is a meditation on how war breeds atrocity and the consequences of atrocity on the perpetrators - the murdered are barely mentioned and only fleetingly considered.

However while a gripping read it ultimately is significantly less satisfying a book than the author's earlier one about the Spanish Civil War. As one of the characters says to the narrator in The Speed of Light - "you can't understand because you haven't killed". And because the author - presumably not a killer either - does not understand he cannot explain. Instead he describes, recounts and tries to empathise. This is an honourable exercise, but it provides little insight to this subject. Furthermore the author's blurring of the distinction between himself and his protagonist leads, I found, to great difficulty in trusting the account itself and hence the insight the author offers.

Nevertheless the book is elegantly written and translated, and it is thought-provoking. Perhaps it will lead some to revisit actual histories of the Vietnam war, particularly Four Hours at My Lai, which deals much more directly and insightfully with the realities of war-crimes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 9 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
There are moments when this book has real power.

However, there are also moments where it's overwritten, the sentences overlong, the narrator's wanderings too ponderous... I absolutely HATE it when writers write about writers, without any panache, and that's definitely done here. The bits that fail most to convince are those where the narrator experiences success as a writer (what relevance has that to the story?) and the pretentious, earnest moments when he refers to "telling Rodney's story".

Overall, I'd say it's worth a read because there are some gorgeous passages here, and some really powerful stuff. There are bits that irritated me, and it is by no means a masterpiece, but it's decent enough for an afternoon when there are no better books lying around (faint praise, I know, but still true). It would be a much stronger, more powerful novella, but there we go. 6/10. Not a waste of time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sevillana on 22 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the second book I have read written by Javier Cercas, the first being Soldiers of Salamis, which book I was inspired to read by Sr Cercas' interview on the BBC World Book club. I was completely captivated by the narrative and could not put the book down for several days. The characterisation is very clever and the issue of heroes/wartime is so relevant today when we are sending our people to fight wars we dont comprehend ourselves. These two books certainly make one feel that a strong pacifist route is the one we should all take and this writer certainly knows how to question our own motives for war. Thank you Javier.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AndyH on 18 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book was challenging in that once I'd invested time and effort into reading part of it, it was a challenge to finish it and not just give up. If you never start reading this book that would be the perfect remedy for this problem. I've rated this as okay, but why waste your time on something that is just OK. Find something better to read.
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