Industrial Deals Children of Blood and Bone Casual Friday Style nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Stream your favorites. Amazon music Unlimited. Learn more. All-New Fire 7, starting at $49.99 Prime exclusive: $24.99 for a limited time Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Home and Garden Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon marchmadness marchmadness marchmadness  Echo Fire HD 8, starting at $79.99 Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop now TG18PP_gno

on October 10, 2016
I wish Amazon would separate the reviews for the audio and written versions of books. This review is not intended to apply to the book itself as listening to the horrible audio rendering I have no idea what it would be like to read it. The mostly mocking tone of the reader makes the story impossible to take seriously. The foreign accents he employs are exaggerated racial stereotypes. By comparison his Latin American accents make the "we don't need no stinkin' badges" line from Treasure of the Sierra Madre sound like Kenneth Branagh reading Shakespeare. I'm used to hearing Buck Schimer read the Bob Lee Swagger novels and to me he is Swagger. This reading is just not appropriate for the material. Because I have a long commute and listening to an interesting book makes the time seem to pass more quickly I've listened on and off up to Chapter 10, but it's a struggle and I find myself switching over frequently to Sirius radio and wondering if I should just give up on the book and start another one.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on June 19, 2016
This is one of Stephen Hunter's Earl Swagger books. He is a superb writer and Swagger is a great hero. Hunter's prose is lyrical and it's still a page turner. He's an expert in the military and scientific fields and has great knowledge about politics and history as well. Fortunately, Earl Swagger has a son, Bob Lee, who is a hero in his own right. Lots of Hunter's later books feature Bob Lee and I've read them all. He is my favorite author. I just can't put the books down. I read them with my iPhone next to me so when Hunter mentions a phrase or a weapon I don't know I immediately look it up. Makes the books even more interesting. In Havana he mixes fiction and historical fact as he has done most notably in The Third Bullet. I'm running out of Stephen Hunter books. I hope he keeps writing!
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on August 7, 2014
The Bob Lee and Earl Swagger books are some of the best reading entertainment I have found in quite awhile. Real man American hero stuff but with humility, a low key country/western manliness and always full of well-researched information about an interesting topic. Each is different and weaves the currant plot history with earlier books. It is important and essential for full enjoyment to read the series in proper order. It will jump back and forth a bit, but is easy to follow and always fun. Much military referencing and full of what makes America great. Heroism, guns, fighting, principles, calm courage, NASCAR, law enforcement, real men - the list goes on and I hope it never ends and dread reading the last book. My hat is off to Mr. Stephen Hunter and beg him to keep writing.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on May 9, 2017
Stephen Hunter returns with his character Earl Swagger, in a series of Bob Lee Swagger prequels. Sharp eyed readers will spot characters from some of Hunter's earlier work, but Earl is perhaps an even better developed character than Bob Lee. This time Earl is recruited to hunt down a young Fidel Castro, years before most Americans were even aware of his existence. It's a view into another time and place, and Hunter describes Cuba in the 1950's vividly. Of course we know going in that Earl won't successfully assassinate Castro, but it's that which makes the reader curious as to how Earl will work out the conflicts between his duty, and his conscience. I highly recommend Havana, as well as Hunter's other books available on Amazon. I'm thrilled to say I have a lot more reading to do before I've read them all, but I'd put Hunter up there with Lee Child, Vince Flynn and Harlan Coben. Once you read one, you'll be hungry for more.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 9, 2014
Having only previously read Stephen Hunter's, DIRTY WHITE BOYS, in the mid-90s - I read HAVANA in 2006 and I liked it. Now, I've gone back and started at the beginning of the "Bob Lee/Earl Swagger series" with Hunter's novel, POINT OF IMPACT, and read eight of the thirteen books in the series, in order of release, back-to-back over four months and man is it a satisfying read - and HAVANA is a great book. I liked it in '06. I loved it this time. The book stands on its own - but I'll admit that it's very cool knowing background info about some of the characters that were met or mentioned in Hunter's previous books, while reading HAVANA - very cool connecting the dots. If you're considering a thrilling book series, this is the one. If you're choosing this or say, the Jack Reacher series - read Reacher first - because I don't think you'll be able to switch to Reacher after reading this Swagger series. I loved the Jack Reacher movie. It was a great adaptation of the book and Tom Cruise did a great job whether he's 6' 5" like Reacher, or not. But that book - I'll put it this way - it was fine. The facts all lined-up -- knee bone connected to the thigh bone, you know? Like popcorn, it was fine - light and fluffy, and kinda satisfying, but a little dry - and needed salt and melted butter and there wasn't quite enough around. Stephen Hunter's Swagger series? - more like a fried calamari appetizer with a spicy red sauce and warm bread and butter, followed by a rare Porter House Steak with baked potato and creamed spinach, followed by a slice of hot apple crumb pie, followed by a Cuban cigar and a double scotch, neat -- at a big table with old friends. Rich, detailed, imperfect characters - (damn that marbled steak was good, but bad for you, too) - flawed heroes spurred by flawed adversaries to take extreme action to save family, country, friends, and strangers - paladins yoked with a deep sense of honor and selfless courage known only by those shaped by the blunt force or repercussions of extreme violence, themselves. If you've seen THE SEARCHERS or THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, then you will recognize the the heroes, anti-heroes, and desperadoes of Stephen Hunter's books. His novels are masterfully researched and detailed. And sure, the dialogue can be a tad corny here and there with so much testosterone and bullets flying - but these are salt-of-the-earth characters, men of their time, military wives, common men of clear common sense and uncommon valor who are pushed to violent extremes like the film heroes played by Clint Eastwood and John Wayne - and it's part of why we love them.

Sometimes the only way to get out alive is to leave no one else around standing. Earl Swagger is a casualty of his own life, a determined wounded warrior with deep convictions about right and wrong and a brutally primal sense of survival. It rubbed off on his quiet son, Bob Lee, too. HAVANA is an excellent book in the Swagger book series. You don't so much read them - but experience every sinewy jolt, every dull thud and disappointment; smell the metallic breath and gamey stench of fear; and climb to your feet with blood on your hands, sucking the breath of life into your lungs.

I give HAVANA four stars only because none of his books, thus far, can match the thrilling heights of his novel, HOT SPRINGS. Thanks goodness I've got five more books to read in the series and one more coming this spring. And thank goodness that like a long range sniper - Hunter keeps on aiming high. Hope this review helps you make an informed decision about your next purchase. If it does - please give me a Helpful Review CLICK below :)
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on September 30, 2007
I fell in love with Stephen Hunter's Earl Swagger novels this year. Luckily I discovered the first one at the beginning and listened to them on audiobook in order. There are three of them so far. HOT SPRINGS, PALE HORSE COMING, and HAVANA.

The Swagger name may sound familiar to people. Mark Wahlberg just starred in the movie SHOOTER as Earl's son, Bob Lee Swagger. Stephen Hunter has been intermittently writing novels about father and son over the last few years. Earl's adventures are set in the 1940s and 1950s. Bob Lee's are more in present-day, and the latest novel in that series, THE 47th SAMURAI, has just been released.

If you haven't read any of the Swagger novels, I really recommend reading them in order. Both series tell a story that's more mosaic than anything else. Both are pieces of the other. Hunter began with Bob Lee's stories, then told the first of Earl's. Obviously the author has become enamored of both his creations. Unfortunately, Earl's adventures maybe at an end after HAVANA. I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only fan that hopes this isn't so. I do know that THE 47th SAMURAI has chapters in it from Earl's point of view, and that the plot revolves around choices both Swaggers face.

HAVANA ends up being more spy story than either of the two previous books about Earl Swagger. I think Hunter had a hard time fitting Earl into the plot in some ways. The previous two books hit harder and were more driven by Earl's choices. In this book, Earl seems to be reactive more than proactive.

Everything centers around the unrest in Havana in the 1950s. The United States government has a Central Intelligence Agency operation in place on the island and they're carefully monitoring the political backlash surging against Carlos Batista, who is friendly toward the Americans. As long as Batista is in control, American companies will flourish there. At one time, Havana was referred to as the Disneyland for adults, referring to the gambling, prostitution, drinking, and drugs available.

The New York Mafia has bested interest in the island government as well. Meyer Lansky was there overseeing mob-related business throughout those turbulent years. Hunter uses the mob-influenced history to his advantage throughout the novel. There's even a mob hitman working for Lansky who is called Frankie Horse after he gunned down a New York policemen and his mount. The mob bosses didn't like the idea that Frankie had killed the horse. As punishment, he was sent down to Havana.

The story takes a little while to get started. There's a lot of backstory to set up, but it's all important to provide a picture of the political and economic climate of Havana during those years. Hunter obviously did his research well and enjoyed the subject matter.

Earl gets called in by the government to write shotgun for a senator while he's down in Havana. Harry Etheridge is a southern congressman with a taste for prostitutes. Earl doesn't really care for the assignment, but he's tempted when those who hire him point out that he could provide a much different future for his young son and wife. Those two people mean everything to Earl, and that's one of the reasons that I enjoy him so much as a character.

Earl is plainspoken and humble, and his world is black and white. He doesn't drink because he knows he can't handle it. When he fights, he gives everything he's got because he knows nothing less will do. He's one of the most decorated soldiers to ever come out of the Pacific theater in World War II. And he knows what killing's all about.

This story is bigger than the previous two Earl Swagger novels. In the earlier books, the plot remained thin and Earl stayed in the spotlight nearly the whole time through. HAVANA offered up a richly textured series of events and characters that at times eclipsed Earl. I missed having him on the pages, but there was so much else going on that caught my attention.

Hunter also obviously fell in love with Speshnev, a Russian soldier that was freed from a Siberian prison camp. Spesnev became something of a political embarrassment to Moscow and was locked away in spite of his service during World War II. The old Russian is a wily and cunning man gifted with great, dark humor. I found myself wishing that Stephen Hunter would write a book about him at some point just so I can see everywhere Speshnev has been and what he has done.

So Stephen, if you're reading this, know that you already have one fan waiting for that book.

The chemistry between Swagger and Speshnev is electric. I spent much of the book fearing the time they would meet over gun barrels. In the beginning, Speshnev saves Earl's butt twice, but I knew that they were working at cross purposes and that conflict would at some point need to be resolved.

Hunter also seems to have great fun poking at the CIA's presence in Havana. The intelligence agency seems to be primarily a joke as he shows the emergence of the new "laidback" agents the kind of fit the preppy model. But Hunter also gives them one of Earl's oldest foes in the form of Frenchy Short, who betrayed Earl's team in Hot Springs.

After caring for Senator Etheridge, and getting shot up for his trouble, Earl gets pressured by the CIA to become an assassin and kill Fidel Castro. At the same time, the reader knows that Sheshnev has been sent there to educate young Castro and get him ready to take over Cuba as a communist partner.

Although the reader knows that Earl isn't going to kill Castro, a lot of the story still yet remains to play through. Even without the mystery and suspense of how Earl was going to kill Castro, I stayed glued to my radio as the audio book played. I hated getting out at my stops and often found excuses to run errands that could've waited or go buy a Coke so I could get through a particularly exciting sequence. The problem was that most of the sequences in the book are exciting and is difficult to leave Earl in any one place after the action gets going.

Readers of the previous two books will know that this one has been done differently. Some may not like it because Earl is off screen so much, but if they hang around till after everything is set up, they'll get to see Earl in his element: hunting men and struggling to stay alive under harsh circumstances.

I had a great time with this book. I hate to think that this is the end of it. I would love to see another novel of Earl any time in here. I would especially love to see a war novel recounting Earl's adventures in the Pacific. After Earl returns home to his family in Blue Eye, Arkansas, it's not long before he's murdered while carrying out his job as an Arkansas State Trooper, though not in this book. And that gives me hope that another novel may yet be in the offing.

If this is all there is, I appreciate all the great stories. Hunter gives his readers a character that is at once real and ideal. There aren't many like him, not in real life and not in fiction.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on December 1, 2003
I really enjoyed this novel a great deal, as I have all of Hunter's novels about the three generations of Swagger gunmen. It seems that Mr. Hunter is improving with age and his prose gets better and better. My two favorite Swagger titles so far have been this book and Hunter's last one, Hot Springs.
What makes this book good is, of course, Mr. Hunter's powers of description of scenes involving gunplay . The reader can really feel the percussive blast of gunfire and hear bullets pang off metal. What sets this author apart is that he combines great authenticity regarding firearms without going into geek detail about weaponry. I can't think of a current mainstream author that can come close to Hunter for firearm knowledge, but the general reader need not beware. There will be no blur of calibers, model numbers, or military abbreviations in his work, or just enough to make things real.
Also, the characters in this novel are well drawn and very interesting. Speshnev, the Russian agent in Cuba is a particularly good creation. He is a thin, grey haired man who can realistically pose as a vacuum cleaner salesman (which he does)until there is some hard, dirty work to do, whereas he transforms into a very effective professional. There is something almost flippant and poetic in his nature that makes him even more disarming.
For those of you who have read Hot Springs, the character Frenchy Short returns as a CIA agent, as smart and hungry as ever, loyal only to his own overwhelming hunger for power.
Finally, I found the scenes involving Bob Lee Swagger and his Father, Earl Swagger very touching. Hunter does a good job in describing a son's overpowering need to get love from a father and all the small things that shape a boy into a man.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on May 14, 2016
One of Hunter's better efforts- a solid story line filled with action that moves a clear plot along which even includes some character development. Worth a read if you like adventure stories. More realistic than some of his later work such as where he has a 70 year old become master of the sword in a day; but that's a later book; this one is a breezy captivating read with a detailed solid setting.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 22, 2015
A typical Stephen Hunter novel with all the violence and action that one would expect. A fun read if you like all the Bob Lee Swagger and his Daddy books. Most interesting was the descriptions of Havana before the of the Batista regime fell. Can't say that it got any better after Castro, a character in this story, took over, but it couldn't have been much worse under the dictatorship that it replaced. Hunter makes the point of reminding us that the U.S. and big corporations were deeply involved in keeping Batista and his thugs in power.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 23, 2014
Pretty good. I got the kindle version and read while I had time. Not his best, but overall a great summer read. Reading the notes and acknowledgements it seems he spent quite a bit of time in Cuba researching the landscape and the history. Coincidentally, I just finished "The Rise of Theodore Rooselvelt" which has a detailed telling of the battle around Santiago and San Juan heights. Tied together nicely. Recommend it for Hunter fans - I just ordered Hot Springs which is supposed to happen a few years before Havana.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse