My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I listened to this on audiobook, so I’ll discuss the content and the production separately.
Maybe it’s because I’m a trained historian, but I found myself mumbling, sometimes shouting at my kindle: “according to who?” “says who?” “you can’t know that was what happened!” There was just too much dramatization in this non-fiction book, too much certainty about people’s thoughts, beliefs and conversations to which the author was not privy. I couldn’t relax and trust it. Some dialogue is needed to break up non-fiction, sure, but that should be clear transcriptions of interviews about the incidents (preferably from more than one point of view), or recordings from the time. If the author is going to insist upon dramatizing conversations and phone calls (including stage directions!), it needs to made clear upon whose information the author is crafting his scenes – without such attribution, the reader can neither trust the information as truth, nor enjoy it as biased gossip.
I hate to say this (as someone who directed audio books for seven years) but I might have to get a print copy out of the library to see if it works better on the page than in audio – perhaps Stewart used footnotes to attribute/explain the liberties he took with dramatizations (though it should be in the main text.)
The production is not great. Every gap between sentences, paragraphs and even chapters has been viciously removed, often disturbing the flow of the narration and allowing no space for the reader to reflect and absorb. I, personally, found the Lawlor’s accent and timbre a little strident for long listening, but that’s subjective. What was disturbing was Lawlor’s raging case of ‘tag lag’ – when a narrator allows the emotion of dialogue to continue into the tag so, ” “Oh no!” she said.” becomes ” “Oh no,” she said!” It’s not a problem on occasion (though a good director aims not to let any slip through) but it’s constant in this book (and probably made worse when the listener is pissed off by the dramatization anyway!)
All in all, I think this book probably suffered for being made into audio 🙁