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Bios & Memoirs

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Jean

Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States Member Since 2010

I am an avid eclectic reader.

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12
  • "Yoda speaks"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Robert Gates has a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet History. He served as the head of the CIA , been a member of the National Security Council under eight different white house administration, was a Air Force officer in the Strategic Air Command. He knew the pentagon better than most Defense Secretaries. “Duty” is a typical of the memoir genre, declaring that this is how the writer saw it, warts and all, including his own. Gates offers a catalogue of various meetings based in part on notes that he and his Aids made at the time and a review of some of the official reports. I thought he did a fairly good job of writing about the positive as well as the negative remarks about different people. The media seems to want to pick out only the negative comments. For example, Gates did make numerous negative remarks about Joe Biden but also said he and Biden were in agreement about the use of the military in Libya and that he likes Biden. Gates had only glowing remarks about Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton. What came across clearly in the book was his fury with having to deal with a dysfunctional congress, his frustrations in dealing with the bureaucracy of the Pentagon, and the feelings of lack of understating of protocol, respect and distrust by white house staff who had never served in the military. Gates writes that Obama was very thoughtful and analytical, wanted to hear all points of view but then made up his own mind. The author also said that he admired Obama for making some very difficult decision as President. He writes about his concern about the welfare of the troops and how he felt his concern was interfering with his ability to do his job. A good deal of the book deals with battles over the budget and his fight with the Pentagon to get rid of programs, equipment that they no longer need only to have the congress reinstate them because the program had direct effect on their State. Over all it is an interesting look into the workings of our government. George Newbern did an excellent job narrating the book.

    More

    Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Robert M. Gates
    • Narrated By George Newbern, Robert M. Gates
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (894)
    Performance
    (797)
    Story
    (795)

    From the former secretary of defense, a strikingly candid, vivid account of serving Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. When Robert M. Gates received a call from the White House, he thought he'd long left Washington politics behind: After working for six presidents in both the CIA and the National Security Council, he was happily serving as president of Texas A&M University. But when he was asked to help a nation mired in two wars and to aid the troops doing the fighting, he answered what he felt was the call of duty.

    Jean says: "Yoda speaks"
  • "Boolean Algebra"

    Overall
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    Story

    This is a book that would have been better if I read it instead of listen or it would be a good book for the e-book with whisper-sync. It was a bit hard to follow unless I took notes. Paul Nahin covered the innovative ideas and history of mathematician George Boole (1815-1864) and electrical engineer Claude Shannon (1918-2001). The book explained classic logic vs Boolean logic in depth. He also covered how Boolean algebra is the bases of electronic circuitry that everything today works on. He covered a great deal on data transmission and its importance in day to day live. The world would not function without this innovated body of work. Allan Robertson did a good job narrating the book.

    More

    The Logician and the Engineer

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Paul J. Nahin
    • Narrated By Allan Robertson
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (20)
    Story
    (19)

    Boolean algebra, also called Boolean logic, is at the heart of the electronic circuitry in everything we use - from our computers and cars, to our kitchen gadgets and home appliances. How did a system of mathematics established in the Victorian era become the basis for such incredible technological achievements a century later?

    Jean says: "Boolean Algebra"
  • "Are the charges true?"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    From the title of the book I thought this book would be a muckraker. Instead Charles Lachman set forth a well researched statement of the facts from both sides of the claims against Cleveland. Grover Cleveland was born March 18 1837 and had to go to work to support his family at age 16 with the death of his father. He moved to Buffalo NY to work for an uncle. He studies law and became a lawyer. Buffalo at this time was a wild dangerous frontier town. Cleveland like most of the men when to the saloon after work at dinner, drank beer, smoked cigars and played cards until bedtime. He was the D.A. of Buffalo the mayor and then the governor of New York. It was not until he ran for President that the scandal was published in the newspapers. I found the comment Cleveland, made to his staff, when the scandal broke "tell the truth" should be the backbone of all crisis management. No matter if the claims he raped Maria Halpin then had her baby taken from her and raised by someone else is true or not. His behavior of having her committed to an insane asylum was poor judgement. Lachman also covered Mark Twain's time in Buffalo as a newspaperman covering the scandal. Another quote by Cleveland I thought telling of his character was as follows "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote". Of course that was a common thought by men of the time. Cleveland married the daughter of his best friend. Cleveland and Frances Folsom married in the white house during his first term. Cleveland was the only president to see separate term as president. I was pleased with the ending of the book as Lachman carefully tied all the loose end up including what happened to the boy Oscar Folsom Cleveland. I will not reveal information about the scandal you need to read the book and make up your own mind. Joe Barrett did a good job narrating the book.

    More

    A Secret Life: The Lies and Scandals of President Grover Cleveland

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Charles Lachman
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (21)

    The child was born on September 14, 1874, at the only hospital in Buffalo, New York, that offered maternity services for unwed mothers. It was a boy, and though he entered the world in a state of illegitimacy, a distinguished name was given to this newborn: Oscar Folsom Cleveland. The son of the future president of the United States - Grover Cleveland. The story of how the man who held the nation’s highest office eventually came to take responsibility for his son is a thrilling one that unfolds like a sordid romance novel....

    Jean says: "Are the charges true?"
  1. Duty: Memoirs of a Secret...
  2. The Logician and the Engi...
  3. A Secret Life: The Lies a...
  4. .

A Remarkable Life

Adventures at Sea

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    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs)
    • By Laura Hillenbrand
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    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    Why we think it’s a great listen: Seabiscuit was a runaway success, and Hillenbrand’s done it again with another true-life account about beating unbelievable odds. On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.....

    Anastasia Burke says: "Hillenbrand could make even laundry fascinating!"
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    • By Tina Fey
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    Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true. At last, Tina Fey's story can be told....

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  • E. E. Cummings: A Life (






UNABRIDGED) by Susan Cheever Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki

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    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 53 mins)
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    E. E. Cummings' radical experimentation with form, punctuation, spelling, and syntax resulted in his creation of a new, idiosyncratic means of poetic expression. And while there was critical disagreement about his work (Edmund Wilson called it "hideous", while Malcolm Cowley called him "unsurpassed in his field"), at the time of his death in 1962, at age 67, he was, after Robert Frost, the most widely read poet in the United States. Now, in this new biography, Susan Cheever traces the development of the poet and his work.

    Kathi says: "Very engaging story of the life of e.e.cummings!"
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  • Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (






UNABRIDGED) by Jennifer Worth Narrated by Nicola Barber

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    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 2 mins)
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    At the age of 22, Jennifer Worth left her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in postwar London’s East End slums. The colorful characters she met while delivering babies all over London - from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lived to the woman with 24 children who couldn't speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city’s seedier side - illuminate a fascinating time in history.

    Kathy says: "This is one I didn't want to put down!"
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    At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State - and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

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    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Mindy Kaling
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    Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

    Tabitha says: "Love it!"
  • The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild (






UNABRIDGED) by Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence Narrated by Simon Vance

    The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Lawrence Anthony, Graham Spence
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    >When South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony was asked to accept a herd of "rogue" wild elephants on his Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand, his common sense told him to refuse. But he was the herd's last chance of survival: they would be killed if he wouldn't take them. In order to save their lives, Anthony took them in. In the years that followed he became a part of their family. And as he battled to create a bond with the elephants, he came to realize that they had a great deal to teach him about life, loyalty, and freedom.

    Tango says: "Beautiful story, beautifully written"
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  • Steve Jobs (






UNABRIDGED) by Walter Isaacson Narrated by Dylan Baker

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    • By Walter Isaacson
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
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    Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

    Chris says: "Good Biography, Fine narrator"
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    An Irish grandfather's memoir of his childhood in the Connemara region of Ireland from 1936 and beyond to his life as an immigrant coming to America in 1958. His story of the women he loved and lost, the adventures of trying to make it in New York with little formal education and struggling to achieve the American dream. Passionately told with humor, a no-holds-barred story spanning over 70 years, authored for his children and grandchildren, will be greatly enjoyed by everyone.

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    • By Justin Martin
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    Rebel Souls is the first book ever written about the colorful group of artists - regulars at Pfaff's Saloon in Manhattan - rightly considered America's original Bohemians. Besides a young Whitman, the circle included actor Edwin Booth; trailblazing stand–up comic Artemus Ward; psychedelic drug pioneer and author Fitz Hugh Ludlow; and brazen performer Adah Menken, famous for her Naked Lady routine. Central to their times, the artists managed to forge connections with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, and even Abraham Lincoln.

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    • By Eve Lederman, Faye Lederman
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    Letters From My Sister began with a simple letter about a bad job interview or a bad hair day, seeking comfort from hundreds of miles away. One letter plus its response became two, two became four, and four became one hundred and twenty over the course of a year in which Faye approaches college graduation in Chicago while Eve establishes her career in New York City.

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    John Wayne: The Life and Legend

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Scott Eyman
    • Narrated By John McLain
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    John Wayne projected dignity, integrity, and strength in all his films, even when his characters were flawed, and whatever character he played was always prepared to confront injustice in his own way. More than thirty years after his death, he remains the standard by which male stars are judged and an actor whose morally unambiguous films continue to attract sizeable audiences.

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UNABRIDGED) by Jung Chang Narrated by Pik-sen Lim

    Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Jung Chang
    • Narrated By Pik-sen Lim
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    At the age of 16, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor’s numerous concubines. When he died, in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China - behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male.

  •  
  • Richard the Lionheart - England's Crusader King: Just the Facts, Book 1 (






UNABRIDGED) by Alison Hardwick Narrated by Simon Brooks

    Richard the Lionheart - England's Crusader King: Just the Facts, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 2 mins)
    • By Alison Hardwick
    • Narrated By Simon Brooks
    Overall
    (0)
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    Richard the Lionheart remains one of England's most famous kings. His statue stands proudly outside the Houses of Parliament, yet who was Richard? Was there more to him than we see depicted in modern media - the great, missing king from the Robin Hood films who was always having his throne threated by his younger brother John! Or was Richard not worthy of the legend that seems to have been built up around his name?

  • The Boy Who Talked to Dogs: A Memoir (






UNABRIDGED) by Martin McKenna Narrated by Aaron Abano

    The Boy Who Talked to Dogs: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Martin McKenna
    • Narrated By Aaron Abano
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (0)
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    Badly misunderstood by his family and teachers, Martin escaped from endless bullying by running away from home and eventually adopting or being adopted by six street dogs. Camping out in barns, escaping from farmers, and learning to fend for himself by caring for his new friends, Martin discovered a different kind of language, strict laws of behavior, and strange customs that defined the world of dogs.

  • Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven (






UNABRIDGED) by John Eliot Gardiner Narrated by Antony Ferguson

    Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By John Eliot Gardiner
    • Narrated By Antony Ferguson
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    John Eliot Gardiner grew up passing one of the only two authentic portraits of Bach every morning and evening on the stairs of his parents’ house, where it hung for safety during World War II. He has been studying and performing Bach ever since, and is now regarded as one of the composer's greatest living interpreters. The fruits of this lifetime's immersion are distilled in this remarkable book, grounded in the most recent Bach scholarship but moving far beyond it.

  • Elvis and Ginger: Elvis Presley's Fiancée and Last Love Finally Tells Her Story (






UNABRIDGED) by Ginger Alden Narrated by Ginger Alden

    Elvis and Ginger: Elvis Presley's Fiancée and Last Love Finally Tells Her Story

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Ginger Alden
    • Narrated By Ginger Alden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
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    Elvis Presley and Graceland were fixtures in the life of Ginger Alden, having been born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. But she had no idea that she would play a part in that enduring legacy - as Elvis Presley’s fiancée, and his last great love. For over three decades Ginger has held the truth of their relationship close to her heart. Now she shares her unique story, and while a lot has been written about the King, the Elvis we meet in this long-anticipated memoir is a revelation.