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All the Lives He Led: A Novel Hardcover – April 12, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765321769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765321763
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,773,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a tired, terrorist-plagued 2079 still reeling from the aftereffects of a massive Yellowstone eruption, Brad Sheridan escapes from America's refugee camps by signing up for an overseas indenture. Chance earns him a spot working in Italy's lavish commemoration of the 2,000th anniversary of the destruction of Pompeii. Beneath quiescent Vesuvius, tourists enjoy entertainments real and virtual. Ben's ambition is limited to minor scams and romance, but fate places him near the epicenter of a terrorist plot of unprecedented scale. This seminihilistic novel, reminiscent of Mining the Oort and The Cool War, is not among Pohl's best only because the Grand Master's previous novels have set such a high standard, and it stands as a demonstration of his continuing strengths in the eighth decade of his career. (Apr.)
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Review

“SFWA Grand Master Pohl’s latest is a pure delight, miraculously combining wry adventure and compassionate satire…. His tempered, hard-won faith in humanity makes this book especially satisfying.” —Publishers Weekly on The Boy Who Would Live Forever

“Very few books have ever held my attention in such an iron grip right up until the last paragraph, built so irresistibly to such a satisfying series of blockbuster punch lines, left me so breathless with admiration, achieved such truly cosmic scope.” —Analog on Beyond the Blue Event Horizon

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Customer Reviews

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Not much plot.
John B.
I was very excited to see a new Frederik Pohl book--and very disappointed after reading the first 100 pages.
Dr.J
Entertaining is not a word one would readily associate with "All The Lives He Led".
Donald

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By swimjay on May 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Not quite fair to review a book before you've finished, but I don't think I'll ever see the end of this one.

Pohl never uses 4 words when 11 will do. A gaseous, golly gee gosh a rootie flavor coils about every sentence. I'm 1/3 of the way through the book, and only the central character is even sketched, a kind of English boy's school boy with an American tough kid back story, and there's no sense the author even cares that it's not plausible, or involving.

We should, by now, given how badly things are going in the writing department, be starting to get whiffs of flop sweat. Yet there's nothing but pure, uninflected blandness. Was Pohl on Xanax when he wrote this? Is there some kind of sadistic, passive aggressive subtext? Doesn't this man have an editor?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TomD on April 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"All the Lives He Led" starts with a great premise, but ultimately needs a great editor / story doctor. Others mentioned lack of a plot - it almost seemed as though Mr. Poole put his efforts into the book's central idea and then started writing to see where the story would take him. This is the GREAT Frederik Pohl so I kept thinking something amazing was just around the bend on this ambling and confused tale. That is just not the case...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Watergrinder on November 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Is this the same author who wrote "Heechee"? Well, technically it is. And Frederik Pohl is still a storyteller. Some anecdotes he provides are indeed amusing. But that is where the resemblance ends.

"All the lives he led" is a book which aspires to teach you something, and fails. This book gives the impression it attempts to be some fable, an allegory to nowadays lives. By itself, this is OK. However it leaves too many open threads, unanswered issues, and (it must be said) many holes in the plot, to give the reader the one thing a book must deliver - it is not a good read.

I did force myself to read it through, mostly due to the great respect I have for Pohl's previous work. I'm afraid this was not time well spent.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on June 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The explosion of the Yellowstone volcano instantly turned the United States into a poor country filled with refugees. Those who survived became refugees, often indentured to pay their debts. Brad Sheridan, one of those refugees, is working in Italy in a Disneyland version of Pompei, serving bad wine to rich tourists from Asia, Europe, and parts of America not destroyed by the eruption when he meets and falls in love with Gerda. Gerda is special, full of life, but she has a secret--one that soon has Brad in trouble with security.

In author Frederik Pohl's near-future story, it isn't just the Yellowstone volcano that causes suffering. Terrorists seem intent on destroying nearly everything, each group pursuing some cause that seems noble to them, seems even to justify the deaths of innocents. And security has reason to believe that the recent outbreak of what is called Pompeian Flu is not a natural disease but a deadly bio-terrorist attack--one with which Brad seems to be involved--whether intentionally or not.

Pohl's world of terrorism is intriguingly complex. Brad is both a willing informant to security but also a man deeply in love with someone who clearly is not just a terrorist but who is involved with something that may kill millions. Security has extraordinary powers they use without much discrimination--but also has officers who try to do the right thing and who even care about the people they hurt. And Pohl's vision of an America virtually destroyed by a natural disaster is the perfect vehicle to remind us that extreme poverty changes everything.

Although, ultimately, I found ALL THE LIVES HE LED to be intriguing and insightful, this story took a long time getting started. As a con-man and seller of recycled wine, Brad isn't very interesting.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ever since Andre Norton walked a stargate Pohl has been on my reading list. This ok, but he's written better. We all get old.
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Format: Hardcover
"All The Lives He Led" is a pot-boiler, not worthy of much, except kindling - not that i ever condone destroying books - it could serve as an example of not learning what not to do - or of relying of formulae, or ... any number of things that one could learn in order to tell a better story -

This one is a simple romance novel, with a sexual/gender quirk not very original, and pretty shallow too, really - it has glaring points where memory serves the reader to see the disjunctions, and the sloppy cover-ups
Oh wait - was i expecting literature? well, at least it's litter
A disappointing read, neither exciting, nor convincing, nor original, nor thought-provoking, nor useful - unless you are a dabbler and think ripples on the pond reveal all the depth there needs to be
One waits for the future, and if it is so mundane as this book, one would not be surprised, but still be disappointed in the banality of it

Re-read something you really liked rather than this
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. Nofel on August 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Warning: Ambiguous spoilers

"All the Lives He Led" had the promise of an SF novel of Pohl authorship but disappoints as science fiction. While well written, it reads more as a travelogue of 2079 Pompeii for the first three-quarters of it than a science fiction novel. Pohl makes several suppositions that could prove interesting -- the eruption of a super-volcano in Yellowstone that brings most of the US to ruin; the rise of terrorism for petty grievances; and the creation of holograms so true as to be life-like -- but he drops them in as the canvas for a dystopian view of life 60 - 70 years fron now.

As a 92-year-old author, Pohl produces very readable text, but there seems to be an undercurrent of curmudgeoness with the attitude expressed by his characters that the human race's reason for existence is to inflict death and misery on itself.

Why do I call the novel a tax write-off? Authors can deduct research expenses from their taxes. From the amount of detail about Pompeii and its surrounding area, it feels apparent that the Pohls toured the area, getting a tax-paid vacation. Good for him, bad for the reader.

Structurally, the novel falls into the novice writer trap of "telling" instead of "showing." The last quarter of the novel is mostly a recounting of recorded video. It has all of the charm of hearing a detailed retelling of a film.

The protagonist engenders little sympathy from, or identification for, the reader. He suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, yet does not take up arms against them. He even sponsors the development of the ultimate terror weapon with detached, almost-disinterested, effort, then does little with it.

It doesn't even work as a character study.
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