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John M

Lafayette, CA USA | Member Since 2007

614
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 57 reviews
  • 263 ratings
  • 437 titles in library
  • 12 purchased in 2018
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FOLLOWERS
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  • The Second World War: The Grand Alliance

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Sir Winston Churchill
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    Overall
    (1145)
    Performance
    (810)
    Story
    (805)

    Dealing with war on a giant scale, The Grand Alliance focuses on events as Britain, after fighting a desperate battle alone, was joined in the struggle against the enemy by Soviet Russia and the United Sates. Hitler's invasion of Russia brought to an end a period of almost exactly a year during which Britain and her Empire had stood alone. Six months later, the United States, attacked by Japan, joined the war and the Grand Alliance was born.

    John M says: "Fascinating and Insightful"
    "Fascinating and Insightful"
    Overall

    During this third volume of the four volume set Churchill continues his wonderful (if occasionally self-serving) narrative. This volume roughly covers the time period of late 1941 through early/mid 1943. This was a rough period for Britain and the military engagements during this period almost always go against the Allies. Though at the end of this volume the tide of war has definitely turned and would usher in a period of practically unbroken victories.

    Any casual Churchill fan knows of his affection for the United States. But it was still very interesting to hear first hand his reaction to Pearl Harbor and the official entrance of the US into the War. At that point, as he tells it, he felt the War was won - he was jubilant - it was just a matter of time. His regard for Roosevelt was just shy of worship.

    It was also very interesting to see his dealings with the Russians as they shifted sides to the Allies and began immediately insisting on a second front in the West. Churchill alternates between extreme patience and unconcealed exasperation at Stalin's single-mindedness here all the while conveniently forgetting he was Hitler's ally less than a year before.

    He has a masterful wit and I literally laughed out loud several times during the narrative.

    A must for any fan of military history and World War II.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Master of the Senate - The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume III (Part 1 of a 3-Part Recording)

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Robert A. Caro
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    Overall
    (1040)
    Performance
    (825)
    Story
    (833)

    Master of the Senate carries Lyndon Johnson's story through one of its most remarkable periods: his 12 years, from 1949 to 1960, in the United States Senate. Once the most august and revered body in politics, by the time Johnson arrived the Senate had become a parody of itself and an obstacle that for decades had blocked desperately needed liberal legislation. Caro shows how Johnson's brilliance, charm, and ruthlessness enabled him to become the youngest and most powerful Majority Leader in history.

    Hoppie says: "combine these into one book"
    "Don't let the 3 credit price stop you"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sure, I agree with others that 3 credits is high for any book. But this isn't just any book. You get over 50 hours of substantial, fascinating reading here. I know for a fact we have all spent 3 credits on three different books that won't equal the achievement of this one book. Plus I think of it as amortizing the "bargain" of getting volumes 1, 2, and 4 at only one credit each.

    As others have mentioned, you do get a lot of backstory about the history of the US Senate in this book. Yes, it could be pretty dull under a less masterful writer, but it really is quite interesting here. It is amazing how thoroughly dysfunctional the Senate was (especially in the hands of the Southern minority) in the 50+ years prior to 1948. It actually makes FDR's accomplishments in the first 100 days all the more remarkable.

    Even after Volumes 1 and 2 it is still remarkable to see the dichotomy that is Lyndon Johnson: the tenacity and hard-working ethic when he is engaged in a situation compared to the thorough disinterest if it doesn't suit is goals. He is a thoroughly political animal - and even though you know how the story ends, it is amazing and fascinating to see it play out. How can he - a junior freshman US Senator - tame the unruly beast that is the US Senate. Even though we know he does it (the name of the book!) it isn't at all clear how it can be done.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Means of Ascent: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Robert A. Caro
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1110)
    Performance
    (990)
    Story
    (993)

    Robert A. Caro's life of Lyndon Johnson continues - one of the richest, most intensive, and most revealing examinations ever undertaken of an American President. The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer/historian carries Johnson through his service in World War II and the foundation of his long-concealed fortune and the facts behind the myths he created about it. But the explosive heart of the book is Caro's revelation of the true story of the fiercely contested 1948 senatorial election.

    Abdur Abdul-Malik says: ""If You Do Everything, You'll Win""
    "Wonderful! Don't let the length turn you off"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The sheer length of the entire series (150 hours!) and the subject matter (Lyndon Johnson?) made it a difficult decision to start but it is terrific. As others have mentioned, it isn't just about LBJ, but you really get to learn a lot about the social history of the times - mostly in 1940's Texas, but nationally as well.

    And LBJ - what a fascinating, amoral character. Robert Caro mentions in the introduction that this volume differs from the others in that in the other volumes there is a contrast between light and dark in Johnson's personality and accomplishments, but in this book it is only dark. Yes, that is true, but the audacity of LBJ is just amazing to be a part of. Caro's writing style really makes you feel you are there.

    It is hard not to compare politics then and now - there are plenty of similarities, but my one takeaway is that we survived corrupt politicians then and we can survive them now. In many cases, it shows that we are so much better off with the information and transparency we have now. It is hard to remember or acknowledge that sometimes, but compared to what was going on in the late 40's, we are incredibly enlightened and transparent. It also shows how truly hard it is to steal an election - even successfully.

    So take the plunge and listen. It is time well spent.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Buy a Bullet: An Orphan X Story

    • UNABRIDGED (38 mins)
    • By Gregg Hurwitz
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (1840)
    Performance
    (1696)
    Story
    (1697)

    The Nowhere Man is a figure shrouded in secrecy - a near legendary figure who helps those lucky few who are given the means to reach out to him. Before he was the Nowhere Man, Evan Smoak was a highly trained government operative known to a few as Orphan X. This is the story of Smoak's first outing as the Nowhere Man, where after completing a mission in Northern California, he happens to spot a young woman at a coffee shop....

    shelley says: "Would Love to know someone like this!!"
    "Short and sweet"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Highly enjoyable read. The writing is tight and Scott Brick's narration is awesome as usual. I do think it would be better if you read the previous book so you have some idea of the character since there isn't any sort of intro on this one. I'm hoping it is being released in anticipation of a formal sequel soon.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Old Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Gary Grossman
    • Narrated By P. J. Ochlan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1183)
    Performance
    (1087)
    Story
    (1090)

    In the summer of 1601, Galileo Galilei made a startling discovery in the mountains of Eastern Italy that, if made public, could shatter faith in religion, bring down governments, and lead to worldwide turmoil. For more than 400 years, the secret has been guarded by a small group of incredibly powerful people, willing to do everything in their power to keep these discoveries from being made.

    Art Gaza says: "Truly one of the best novels I ever read"
    "Ugh - could not finish"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got through about 2 hours of this book and had to stop. I like action-adventure thrillers as much as the next reader, but the pacing of the story and the simplistic writing style just didn't do it for me. Perhaps it gets better deeper in, but it wasn't worth it for me. Narration was fine and he did what he could with the material provided.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Jurassic Park: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Michael Crichton
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13796)
    Performance
    (12720)
    Story
    (12717)

    Audie Award, Science Fiction, 2016. An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind's most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them - for a price.

    Jim "The Impatient" says: "CHAOS THEORY"
    "Worth a read but the movie was better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't know if I've ever thought a movie was better than the book, but in this case it is true. It is an enjoyable book it its own right and if you haven't seen the movie (is this possible?) then it would be fine. It is also quite interesting to see where the book and the movie differed. There are, naturally, many additional scenes not in the movie due to time constraints that do help flesh out the science and motivation of the characters. But it is even more enjoyable to see how the characters differed in the book and how some characters that were "good" in the book and "bad" in the movie and visa-versa.

    In spite of all that, I actually found the book dragged a bit - the entire plot pretty much is represented in the movie - so there is a lot of redundancy in the book. Smart people in the book take way too long to figure things out. Scenes seem to repeat themselves. But yet Alan Grant, the archeologist, transforms inexplicably to be more and more a MacGyver figure toward the end. Plus I missed the love interest in the movie. And the kids were much more annoying in the book than in the movie, which is always a bit of a turnoff.

    Bottom line - if you loved the movie, then the book is an interesting way to experience the story from a different perspective. But if I had to pick one medium for this story, I'd pick the movie.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Turning Points in American History

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Edward T. O'Donnell
    • Narrated By Professor Edward T. O'Donnell Ph.D. Columbia University
    Overall
    (562)
    Performance
    (497)
    Story
    (492)

    These 48 lectures are your chance to relive the most groundbreaking moments in the fascinating story of the United States. They offer you a different perspective on the sweeping narrative of U.S. history. Spanning the arrival of the first English colonists to the chaos of the Civil War to the birth of the computer age and beyond, this lecture series is a captivating and comprehensive tour of those particular moments in the story of America, after which the nation would never be the same again.

    Quaker says: "Brilliant, Informative, Entertaining!"
    "Fantastic way to experience American History"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have listened to almost 100 of The Great Courses over the last 10 years or so and this one ranks within the Top 5! Professor O'Donnell clearly knows his subject matter plus he is a superb presenter. The lectures are clear, well organized, and fast paced. There are 48 lectures, which certainly seems like a lot, but each one goes by very quickly. I really liked the mixture of very well-known and little known episodes in American history. It also has a nice mix of political, military, economic, and social historical episodes so it always seems fresh.

    Ideally one would have a basic grasp of American history overall before starting this series, but frankly it isn't absolutely necessary. Enjoy!

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • The Martian

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Andy Weir
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (149537)
    Performance
    (137988)
    Story
    (137852)

    Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

    Jim "The Impatient" says: "LOOK BOOBIES"
    "The perfect mix of thrills, science, and humor!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wow - just finished The Martian! I feel like I've been to Mars. Out of the hundreds of audio books I have listened to, this is absolutely in my Top 10. Even Top 5. The whole book just resonated with me. Every day I could not wait to see what new calamity and solution our hero would come up with. But it was done so realistically that it could have been non-fiction. And Andy Weir gave the main character such a snarky sense of humor that it was laugh-out-loud funny in many places.

    I think this book will be especially wonderful if you are interested in science and engineering, but I don't think it is mandatory. As others have stated, just being able to enjoy MacGyver is probably good enough (though this is far, far higher quality that anything MacGyver ever did).

    I expect I will be listening to it again very soon!

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Ark Royal

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Christopher G. Nuttall
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4210)
    Performance
    (3923)
    Story
    (3915)

    Seventy years ago, the interstellar supercarrier Ark Royal was the pride of the Royal Navy. But now, her weapons are outdated and her solid-state armour nothing more than a burden on her colossal hull. She floats in permanent orbit near Earth, a dumping ground for the officers and crew the Royal Navy wishes to keep out of the public eye. But when a deadly alien threat appears, the modern starships built by humanity are no match for the powerful alien weapons.

    Jim In Texas! says: "A good solid effort at a Space Opera"
    "Could have been much more"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I got about halfway through this book and didn't have the energy to continue. The overall premise is fine, if a bit shopworn. It echoes a lot of Battlestar Galactica insofar as you have the old ship (and crew) that can succeed where all the newer models fail. Where it fails I think is not allowing our culture to advance at all even though it is set almost 300 years in the future. The attitudes, problems, and prejudices expressed by the characters are exactly the same as they are today. If I think how much humanity has progressed over the last 300 years (and especially the last 100) I find it really hard to believe nothing culturally or politically will have changed. Do we really think the same nations and geopolitics around now will be the same 300 years from now? Britain still the same, suspicious of the Chinese and Russians, etc? Really?

    The use of language was fairly unsophisticated in many parts. The overuse of generic "reporters" and "bureaucrats" and their paper-thin characterizations got a bit tiresome. Overall I think there are better series (Black Jack Geary for one) out there.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Dan Harris
    • Narrated By Dan Harris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14604)
    Performance
    (13049)
    Story
    (12990)

    After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists.

    Russell says: "You mean that voice can be tamed - Sign me up!"
    "Perfect introduction for a skeptic like me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I stumbled into this book almost my accident. I am a frequent Audible customer, but stick with history and novels primarily. I would not consider myself a "self-help" book kind of guy at all. But fortunately I went a bit off-script and bought this book. It was absolutely fascinating and probably the only way a guy like me could get energized about mindfulness.

    Dan comes into mindfulness as a complete skeptic and novice and we learn right along with him about the myriad benefits to meditation. It is a fascinating ride. We also get a bonus insight into the workings of network news.

    I have subsequently listened to Professor Siegel's Great Courses series on the scientific foundation of mindfulness and it is a great companion piece. But listen to this one first! It is funny, interesting, informative, and well worth your time.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being

    • ORIGINAL (13 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Ronald Siegel
    • Narrated By Professor Ronald Siegel Psy.D. Rutgers University
    Overall
    (1472)
    Performance
    (1292)
    Story
    (1257)

    Ever noticed that trying to calm down often produces more agitation? Or that real fulfillment can be elusive, despite living a successful life? Often, such difficulties stem from the human brain's hardwired tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Modern science demonstrates that this survival mechanism served the needs of our earliest ancestors, but is at the root of many problems that we face today, such as depression, compulsive and addictive behaviors, chronic pain, and stress and anxiety.

    Cluelass says: "Even more worthwhile with these study aids"
    "Mindfulness and Meditation for us Left-Brain Types"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am convinced that Professor Siegel's approach is really the best way to be introduced to Mindfulness. He strikes an almost perfect balance of technical explanation, philosophical background, anecdotes from his practice, and actual meditation examples.

    Frankly, the list of benefits coming from mindfulness is almost unbelievable. I say "almost" because each time Prof Siegel would discuss yet another benefit I would hear myself thinking "there is no way that is true" he would then discuss all the studies that have been done in that particular area that prove out its efficacy.

    He is clearly an expert in his field, very enthusiastic, properly self-effacing, and an excellent presenter. There is some mediation practice in-line in the lectures, but there are also full-length meditations included at the end of the course. Since I mostly listen while driving I resisted the urge to practice during the lectures.

    Frankly, after listening to the course, I think it would be very hard not to want to put it into practice yourself. I also recommend "10% Happier" by Dan Harris as an excellent companion book to this lecture series. Dan comes into mindfulness as a complete novice (and skeptic). Anything that can win over Dan and Prof Siegel has my vote.

    52 of 54 people found this review helpful

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