This is truly a unique book -- a long, unique book. However, potential readers (listeners) should not be intimidated by its sheer length. To the contrary, its varied themes, part CSI, part spy stories, part behind-the-scenes history, make it an interesting and entertaining collection.
At first glance, it may appear that this book was written just for those who enjoy reading spy novels and Popular Mechanics, or Popular Electronics. The technical details are adequate to tell the amazing story of the CIA's engineers and technicians, but they may not satisfy dedicated technophiles. This is not a "how-to" book. After all, there are security concerns about releasing the material in this book, and the authors obviously want to tell the story of these resourceful, creative CIA officers to as wide an audience as possible. By avoiding excessive technical minutiae, they were successful in keeping the book informative, yet readable.
With all of the post 9-11 CIA memoirs and histories that have been released in the past several years, it is difficult to decide what to read about this organization that plays such an important role in our nation's defense and security. However, this book, due to its unique technical insider perspective, stands out from these others as a "must read" for anyone who seeks to have an understanding and appreciation of the CIA's past, and more importantly, its future.
I am not a big reader of history, but this caught my eye, and I was not disappointed. The audiobook is a little bit hard to follow, in terms of the large amount of information and its organization. So, it isn't a casual, or bedtime, read (listen). That said, I would include this in my short, "must listen" list since it is such a stereotype busting book. It will change your perception of the past with lessons that clearly apply to today's world. For me it ranks up there with Sun Tzu's Art of War -- albeit a much more engaging read.
The implications of Spencer's book, at first glance, struck me as alarmist hyperbole designed to sell books to a fearful audience. However with careful documentation of the subject matter and a persuasive writing style, he carefully makes his points without the use of the fear mongering rhetoric that I had feared prior to purchasing this audiobook.
The narrator, Lloyd James, was an excellent choice. His voice is authoritative, yet not condescending. He reads with an even tone and cadence that contributed to the perception that this book was a reasoned, factual documentary of the radical Islamic agenda for the United States.
Unfortunately, it is precisely the fact that this book is a well-documented, reasoned, and calmly presented account of its topic, and not a shrill, anti-Islamic diatribe, that make its conclusions all the more frightening for our nation's future. This book's implications are an unpleasant reality that must be understood and confronted by the American public. Put this selection on your "must read" (listen) list.
After reading and listening to numerous accounts of the Iraq War, mostly from the Left, it is refreshing to finally have an account from someone who was actually "in the loop." Clearly, the author has his own political perspective, but that is why he was recruited and became a key player in the DoD and administration during the time that key decisions where being made in the planning and conduct of the war.
Feith does an admirable job of recording key events while offering his opinions and the various, frequently opposing, points of view that contributed to the "real-time" decision making process of the War. It reminded me that we often forget that hindsight is 20/20, and when looking forward, with limited information, choosing the correct -- much less optimal -- course of action can be a difficult, if not impossible, task.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book was the author's insight to the personalities involved in making Iraq War policy and how their interactions shaped those policies. It gives listeners the feeling of being a "fly on the wall" as these "alpha-males" (and Condi) clashed and compromised.
In the past, I promised myself to "never" purchase another abridged audiobook, especially those dealing with politics. However, I must say that this was an abridged, non-fiction recording that I found; and I suspect other discerning, detail-oriented, "political junkie" listeners will find, satisfying. Further, I found the author's audiobook narrative sufficiently compelling that I have purchased the print version just to be sure that I didn't miss any important details that were omitted in the abridgement. Perhaps this is a new strategy for publishers -- a print and audio "double-play?"
This book strikes a balance between academic rigor and the need for a readable, understandable book for the general public on this topic. For too long, men, women, teenagers and adolescents – as well as the many healthcare professionals, social workers, counselors, school teachers, etc. – have needed a practical guide that bridges that gap between advances in our knowledge of the sexual differences in the brain and their impact upon our daily lives. This book admirably does this WITHOUT getting bogged down in the details of PET scans, the minutiae of neuroanatomy, extended discussions of biochemical hormonal pathways, and other arcane topics that would render this book unreadable for its target audience.
This book and its author have come under fire for her use of clinical anecdotes, personal experiences, and generalizations of that summarize complex research in a way that does not pass muster for academic medical writing. These would be valid criticisms if Dr. Brizendine was writing a medical textbook, but she isn’t. The result is a very readable (listenable) book that presents the author’s point of view developed over a long clinical career.
This was a refreshing, somewhat alternative view, of the CIA and its history that contrasts with many of the other recently released books on the subject. If you read "Legacy of Ashes" by the NY Times' Tim Weiner, or George Tenet's "At the Center of the Storm," you owe it to yourself to read (listen) to this book.
This is a “must read” (or “must listen”) for those who really want to understand the CIA and its history. It is more than a review of the recently released CIA “family jewels.” The author did extensive research to provide a much more complete picture, albeit through the prism of a New York Times pedigreed journalist. However, even a Southern conservative, Republican partisan, living in the Republican bastion of “Little Havana” in Miami, like myself, still found this to be a riveting book.
As a nation currently in the middle of an ideological, global struggle, this book begs the troubling question, “What should be the mission and scope of activities of our intelligence agency and its clandestine service; and who’s going to manage, staff, oversee and ultimately be responsible for its successes (or failures) while maintaining the utmost of secrecy in an ‘open’ society?”
This is an excellent synopsis of the emerging Asian economies of China and India presaging the implications of their economic growth and "coming of age" as global powers.
The author does a wonderful job of combining economic statistics with the stories of leaders and individuals that illustrate the meaning of the raw numbers. Economics may be the "dismal science," but Robyn Meredith makes it quite readable, even enjoyable.
Some of author's own political opinions color the "hard facts" contained in this book - which would be fine if clearly written as such. On the other hand, it would be almost impossible to write anything but the most bland statistical "yada, yada, yada" on this theme without some of the author's point of view creeping into the pages. Fortunately, these "transgressions" are few and detract little from the overall reading (or listening) experience.
On a technical note, the audio recording's volume levels seemed to be on the low side making listening on my "smartphone" difficult in the car, and other noisy environments. On my laptop, I could compensate for this, but some smartphone or portable MP3 player users may have similar difficulties. The recording's volume level can be corrected using volume compression, or normalization, during playback on many devices.
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