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Joshua Kim

Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States Member Since 2005

mostly nonfiction listener

HELPFUL VOTES
565
ratings
REVIEWS
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154
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FOLLOWING
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8
  • "Driving Towards Traffic"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Traffic" freaked me out. I knew that 40,000 people died each year on our roads. And I knew that a car accident was the most likely way that trauma would encroach into my world. Vanderbilt gives me lots more things to worry about (like Dr's have the 2nd highest accident rate, pick-up trucks are dangerous to everyone else, new cars have higher accident rates then older cars, and intersections are bad news for bikers, runners, and drivers.

    This is a book I'd like my girls to read as a prerequisite to getting their license (and I'll install the driver cam that Vanderbilt writes about being effective in teaching young drivers defensive skills).

    Read the book. Slow down on the roads.

    More

    Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Tom Vanderbilt
    • Narrated By Marc Cashman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (351)
    Performance
    (144)
    Story
    (145)

    Driving is a fact of life. We are all spending more and more time on the road, and traffic is an issue we face everyday. This audiobook will make you think about it in a whole new light.

    Joshua Kim says: "Driving Towards Traffic"
  • "Pros and Cons of "Why Nations F..."

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    I read Why Nations Fail this month while traveling in South Korea. The book was much on my mind as I looked across the DMZ at North Korea on the 38th parallel. South Korea, a country of about 50 million people, enjoys a per capital PPP (purchasing power parity) GDP of around $32,000. (The U.S. is $48,000 by comparison - wealthier but also with a less equally distributed income). In North Korea, the GDP per capita (PPP) is $2,400 - an incredibly low numbers that still probably understates how desperately poor (and hungry) are the people of North Korea.

    Why should North Korea be so poor, and South Korea so rich?

    The two countries share common cultural roots, geography, and access to natural resources. This is the question Acemoglu and Robinson attempt to answer in Why Nations Fail. They look at examples such as North Korea, as well as other natural experiments of societies that share similar exogenous traits (resources, climate, etc.) - such as the twin Nogales's in Mexico and Arizona.

    Acemoglu and Robinson's explanation as to why some nations are poor and others rich has everything to do with the elites. Poor nations are poor because the people who run these countries have made their subjects destitute in service of enriching themselves.

    North Korea can best be understood as being run by a criminal family. Mexico is so much poorer than the U.S. because of its history of being run by elites whose main goal was to extract wealth, and who did not need to redistribute economic production as for most of its history the country lacked pluralistic institutions that could check the power of the rulers.

    This argument, that some countries are poor because the powerful keep them poor, stands in direct opposition to the arguments that Jared Diamond makes in Guns, Germs and Steel. Diamond believes that the wealth distribution was largely pre-determined by immunity to disease (or lack thereof), access to domesticable livestock, and the raw materials and technologies to make advanced weapons.

    I am a huge fan of Diamond's writing, but Why Nations Fail has me thoroughly convinced that more deterministic view of development (as put forward by Diamond and others) is problematic. Why Nations Fail should definitely be on the syllabus in any economic history or development course, and on the bookshelf (physical or virtual) of anyone interested in global inequality, poverty, and why some nations are so much richer than others.

    Should you invest the time to read Why Nations Fail? The book is 544 pages, or almost 18 hours by audiobook (my reading choice). Acemoglu and Robinson would have benefited from a strong-willed editor, one who was willing to push them to provide less historical detail (the book has a ton from around the world across numerous societies), and more analysis of the implications of their arguments for countries like China and India.

    I came away from Why Nations Fail thinking that if the argument is correct then China's long-term economic prospects might not be as good as we assume, and India's may be better. But having spent time time in South Korea, which developed so rapidly at least partly under a repressive military regime, it is hard to square this conclusion with the recent facts of some of our fastest developing countries.

    Perhaps Acemoglu and Robinson next book will take outliers and implications, building on top of the theoretical foundations for development and inequality laid out in Why Nations Fail.


    More

    Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Daron Acemoglu, James Robinson
    • Narrated By Dan Woren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (435)
    Performance
    (347)
    Story
    (348)

    Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

    Ryan says: "Important themes, with blind spots"
  • "5 Concise Reasons to Read"

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    I love short books. Can you recommend any good, but concise, nonfiction? Great reads under 200 pages?

    Here are my 5 concise reasons to read Robert Reich's latest book "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future"

    Reason #1 - Conciseness: Most books are too long. Aftershock is a blessed 192 pages; 4 hours and 29 minutes short in audiobook format.

    Reason #2 - Originality: Reich's big argument is that out economy is fundamentally unbalanced. That the growth of inequality that has concentrated economic gains among the top 5 percent of the populations has resulted in an inability of most Americans to adequately consume. We cannot afford to buy what we produce (a problem near and dear to the heart of any parent who works in higher education).

    Reason #3 - The Higher Education Plan: Reich actually has a plan for higher education. He would make tuition free (to public institutions), and recoup the costs with a levy on future earnings for anyone who participated. His proposal is more complex than this description, and wildly unlikely to ever be enacted anywhere, but still fun to debate.

    Reason #4 - History: Reich was one of the first academic popularizers that I discovered. Back in 1992, he wrote The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism, in which he argued that economic gains and options would accrue to the "symbolic analysts" - those who manipulate and create information. Reich was ahead of the game in 1992, and if we had listened more carefully to his warnings we might be in better shape today.

    Reason #5 - Narration: Reich narrates his own book - and does it beautifully. Usually reading what you have written does not work out so well. Narration is a skill best left to professional readers. But in this case, Reich is the right person to read his own words

    More

    Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Robert Reich
    • Narrated By Robert Reich
    Overall
    (426)
    Performance
    (246)
    Story
    (251)

    The author of 12 acclaimed books, Robert B. Reich is a Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and has served in three national administrations. While many blamed Wall Street for the financial meltdown, Aftershock points a finger at a national economy in which wealth is increasingly concentrated at the top - and where a grasping middle class simply does not have the resources to remain viable.

    Chris says: "Very plausible assessment of our economy"
  1. Traffic: Why We Drive the...
  2. Why Nations Fail: The Ori...
  3. Aftershock: The Next Econ...
  4. .

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What's Trending in Nonfiction:

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    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
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    Mark says: "My favorite book of the year, so far"
  • Language A to Z  by The Great Courses Narrated by Professor John McWhorter

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    Linguistics, the study of language, has a reputation for being complex and inaccessible. But here's a secret: There's a lot that's quirky and intriguing about how human language works-and much of it is downright fun to learn about. But with so many potential avenues of exploration, it can often seem daunting to try to understand it. Where does one even start?

    Jacobus says: "A genious Miscelany of linguistic topics"
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UNABRIDGED) by David McRaney Narrated by Don Hagen

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    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 40 mins)
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    A. Yoshida says: "Not a lot of guidance"
  • Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (






UNABRIDGED) by Mary Roach Narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

    Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Mary Roach
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    Best-selling author Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside. Roach takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: The questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts?

    Kirstin says: "Mary Roach Does Not Disappoint!"
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  • The Tao of Pooh (






UNABRIDGED) by Benjamin Hoff Narrated by Simon Vance

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    Gavin says: "Simply Pooh"
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    John Perry’s insights and laugh-out-loud humor bring to mind Thurber, Wodehouse, and Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit. This charming and accessible audio educates, entertains, and illuminates a universal subject. Procrastinators will be relieved to learn that you can actually accomplish quite a lot while procrastinating. In fact, the book itself is the result of Perry avoiding grading papers, refereeing academic proposals, and reviewing dissertation drafts. It also has a practical side, offering up advice that listeners can put to use.

    G-Man says: "Doing everything except what you should"
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UNABRIDGED) by Francis Fukuyama Narrated by Jonathan Davis

    The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Francis Fukuyama
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis
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    Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today’s developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.

    Henderson says: "Best Summary of Political History I've Read"
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UNABRIDGED) by Glenn Greenwald Narrated by L. J. Ganser

    No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Glenn Greenwald
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    (15)

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    Justin says: "powerful"
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UNABRIDGED) by Malcolm Gladwell Narrated by Malcolm Gladwell

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    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Malcolm Gladwell
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    In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.

    S Prabhu says: "Excellent book; well adapted for the audio format"
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UNABRIDGED) by Rebecca Solnit Narrated by Luci Christian Bell

    Men Explain Things to Me

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Rebecca Solnit
    • Narrated By Luci Christian Bell
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    In Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit takes on the conversations between men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don't. The ultimate problem, she shows in her comic, scathing essay, is female self-doubt and the silencing of women. Rebecca Solnit is the author of fourteen books about civil society, popular power, uprisings, art, environment, place, pleasure, politics, hope, and memory, most recently The Faraway Nearby, a book on empathy and storytelling.

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    • By Theodore Rosengarten
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    Nate Shaw's father was born into slavery. Nate was born into a bondage that was only a little gentler. At the age of nine, he was picking cotton and plowing behind a mule. This triumphant autobiography, All God's Dangers, assembled from the eighty-four-year-old Shaw's oral reminiscences, is the plainspoken story of an "over average" man who witnessed momentous changes in the lives of Southern people, black and white, and whose unassuming courage helped bring those changes about.

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    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 34 mins)
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    Full of action-packed experiences from world conflicts, this collection of war stories - some true, some not - tells tales of POWs surviving in Vietnam, World War II, and Cambodia. These stories of grit and strength put you in the middle of the action and will leave you with a respect for true war heroes. Beyond Survival is a journey into the invincible human spirit that unites heart and mind in a compelling and unforgettable experience.

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    • By Ha-Joon Chang
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    In his best-selling 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang brilliantly debunked many of the predominant myths of neoclassical economics. Now, in an entertaining and accessible primer, he explains how the global economy actually works - in real-world terms. Writing with irreverent wit, a deep knowledge of history, and a disregard for conventional economic pieties, Chang offers insights that will never be found in the textbooks.

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UNABRIDGED) by Robert Welk Narrated by Dave Wright

    Maximizing Obamacare: Your Prescription for Understanding America's New Health Care System

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 49 mins)
    • By Robert Welk
    • Narrated By Dave Wright
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