9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Docu-drama in prose,
This review is from: Red Plenty (Hardcover)
I bought this book after reading a favourable review in The Economist, so I knew it was not an ordinary history book. When I started reading it and found it was more fiction than fact, I was initially disappointed because I didn't know how much of the history was imagined. The author does warn about this in the introduction, but it's hard to adjust to because it's marketed and priced as a history book, not a novel, so there are certain expectations of accuracy and format that are not addressed.
Now that I've read all the way through it I think the best way to describe the book is as my title. This is very much like a modern dramatised history, or docu-drama, that you see on TV all the time. The characterisation is very good, the scenery very vivid, the author precedes segments of the book with a voice-over type narrative to position the chronology and some exposition to explain some of the ideas and challenges. The rest is done in-story by character conversations, and it's a good way of dumbing down complicated theories of political and ideological thought so that they can be easily comprehended and digested. Also explains some mechanical, industrial, and biological concepts, again using picturesque writing to implant the scene in your mind. On the whole I liked it a lot, would recommend it to people to read (but not necessarily to buy), and would give it 3.5 stars out of 5 if possible.
I see a lot of people have given it 5 stars, which is fine for them, but I wouldn't agree it's that brilliant, that classic, or that re-readable. But a good introduction to the subject matter, and that's worth a lot.