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John

APO, AE, USA | Member Since 2008

114
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 17 reviews
  • 165 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth About the American Voter

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Rick Shenkman
    • Narrated By Eric Michael Summerer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (66)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (19)

    Americans of all political stripes are heading into the 2008 election with the sense that something has gone terribly wrong with American politics. But what exactly? The only thing everyone seems to agree on, in fact, is that the American people are entirely blameless. InJust How Stupid Are We?, best-selling historian and renowned myth-buster Rick Shenkman takes aim at our great national piety: the wisdom of the American people.

    John says: "Cynical but accurate"
    "Cynical but accurate"
    Overall

    This book presents some very interesting points about the problems with the American voter but does so in a very round about fashion. The first several chapters finds the reader assaulted by a storm of statistics--one after another--which are interesting at first but get boring and redundant eventually. Imagine having the results of 45 independent studies about the reasons why people like vanilla ice cream read to you in succession. After the third set of statistics you can't help thinking, 'Okay, I get. Now what's you point?' It helps if the author takes a moment to connect a statistic to the greater picture to prevent the statistics from combining into one long run-on thought. The statistics are all relevant though some are superfluous.

    The next section would offend most Americans who like to believe that there is something inherently superior about our world view. It is very cynical about the average American attention span and propensity to absorb trivial social details (i.e. Britney Spears/Paris Hilton) while lacking similar levels of knowledge about politics, structure of government, and history. I expected the book to take a cynical view from the onset but I was surprised how nonconstructive the criticisms were. The author beats up on us pretty badly (albeit deservedly so). This did finally change in the final chapter with a discussion of social and institutional changes needed to remedy the problem. This discussion was a long time in coming however. Though I appreciated all of the points the author eventually made, I fear many people will get frustrated and tune him out before finishing the book (perhaps proving his point).

    The main point of thought: the author suggests that some people are in fact too stupid to vote then provides some insightful food for thought for both sides of the argument. I think this food for thought provides the real value of this book and makes it worth the read despite its flaws.

    21 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • Frank Schaeffer discusses Crazy for God - Part One

    • UNABRIDGED (39 mins)
    • By Frank Schaeffer
    • Narrated By Frank Schaeffer
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Best-selling author, screen-writer and journalist Frank Schaeffer recounts tales from his time as part of the L'Abri community. (Part one of two)

    John says: "Where's the rest of it?"
    "Where's the rest of it?"
    Overall

    The first clue that there is a problem is that a book that Amazon.com says has 448 pages is only 39 minutes in audio format, even though it says "unabridged." That is because this is NOT the book "Crazy for God" by the same author, though it shares the exact same title. What it actually consists of is a recording of a live seminar where he is talking about the book to an audience in England.

    He talks about his transition from evangelical to cynical agnostic. This is basically an anti-religion diatribe where he insists that he has been attacked pejoratively by the right about his writings but rather than taking the high road, he sinks to their level by speaking of Christians with an equivalent amount of vitriol.

    I agreed with most of his points but did not care for the verbal bile and negativism he expressed. I like my enlightenment to be a bit more---shall we say---enlightened.

    If you want nothing more than to hear someone attack religion as a whole in a shallow and gratuitous fashion, then this is for you. If like me, you want a serious discussion of the pros and cons of religion and the affects that it has on politics and society, sadly you will not get that here.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Backlash

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Aaron Allston
    • Narrated By Marc Thompson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (617)
    Performance
    (378)
    Story
    (369)

    No greater threat exists than that which waits in the depths of the distant Maw Cluster: A being of pure, ravenous dark-side energy named Abeloth calls out across the stars to Jedi and Sith alike. For some it may be the ultimate source of answers crucial to their survival. For others it could be the ultimate weapon of conquest. But for all, it is a game-changingand life-altering encounter of untold magnitude and a tactical gambit with unimaginable consequences.

    Oliver says: "Engaging"
    "Filler Story"
    Overall

    This entire book could have been a short story essay. The tribe they are visiting on Dathomir will engage in a traditional, inter-tribal competition and I immediately think, "Oh no, I'm sure Luke will waste half the book competing in this silly ritual," and of course he does. This is both boring AND clich?.

    The overriding Sith storyline is advanced very little until the very end of the book. Worse, there was absolutely no advancement in the rogue Jedi situation except for one more junior Jedi who freaks out momentarily and is quickly dispensed with. In the grand scheme of this book, these two things do not rate even as high as speed bumps.

    The most interesting thing in the book is the Mandalorian sequence. That is potentially one of the more interesting subplots. I hope they will keep the story moving along rather letting parts of the story stagnate.

    I think the book is still worth the read but it won't be winning any awards, that's for sure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By John J. Mearsheimer, Stephen M. Walt
    • Narrated By Jason Culp
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (163)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (52)

    "The Israel Lobby" by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt was one of the most controversial articles in recent memory. Now in a work of major importance, Mearsheimer and Walt deepen and expand their argument and confront recent developments in Lebanon and Iran. They describe the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the United States provides to Israel and argues that this support cannot be fully explained on either strategic or moral grounds.

    David says: "The Truth At Last!"
    "Enlightening"
    Overall

    This is probably one of the most insightful books I have ever read. To have everything laid out with clinical objectivity and related in such a riveting fashion is remarkable. Confirms all of the conclusions of Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, which I also downloaded from Audible. These writings open your eyes to the real world without all of the spin. A must read for all who seek the truth.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Under the Dome: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (34 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Raul Esparza
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9865)
    Performance
    (4797)
    Story
    (4825)

    On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when - or if - it will go away.

    Suzanne says: "The scare is in the human nature under stress."
    "Very long but fun"
    Overall

    The book gets going right away but it takes a while to figure out what exactly is going on. This book has probably more characters in it than any I've ever seen. Many family-related characters with common first names and identical last names made it difficult to remember who-was-who. Some characters would disappear for large portions of the book such that by the time they appeared again, I could scarcely remember who they were.

    The story builds slowly but keeps you interested. My biggest disappointment was the final explanation of how the dome occurred. I'll avoid the spoiler but suffice it to say the same thing happened in an old Star Trek TOS episode. Most geeks will know what I'm talking about. Despite this flaw, the strength of the main characters (both good and bad) carries this story.

    Also, a final confrontation between good and evil is nice but certain resolutions between main characters was unfulfilling. Good can triumph over evil or evil can triumph over good but it's less fulfilling for those things that sort themselves out by chance.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6854)
    Performance
    (3281)
    Story
    (3326)

    Eerie, dreamlike, set in a world that is weirdly related to our own, The Gunslinger introduces Roland Deschain of Gilead, of In-World that was, as he pursues his enigmatic antagonist to the mountains that separate the desert from the Western Sea in the first volume of The Dark Tower series. Roland, the last gunslinger, is a solitary figure, perhaps accursed, who with a strange single-mindedness traverses an exhausted, almost timeless landscape of good and evil.

    Valerie says: "Just As Wonderful as I Remembered!"
    "Taking it on Faith"
    Overall

    I bought this book because it was recommended by someone who is normally spot on when comparing his taste to mine. I was skeptical more than halfway through the book because it doesn't really seem to be going anywhere.

    There are slow, methodical descriptions of both the environment the story takes place in and of the characters in the story. I kept on reading despite how rambling it becomes at times because I'm looking for a payoff at some point.

    I will confess that by the end of the book I am intrigued by where the story may go but wherever it goes you must know that this kind of story can only be done by a well-established author because it's was the most incomplete book 1 I've ever seen. Most authors can't do that because they never know if they can sell a complete series like this. Especially when so little story and character development takes place. They normally have to choose an ending that has SOME closure but which can still be continued at some point. This book doesn't come anywhere near closure.

    Still, something about the last eighth of the book hooked me. I have to see where it goes next...

    Before you read this, you should make sure you can stomach a book with a distant payoff which may be several volumes away.

    11 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Sandworms of Dune

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (616)
    Performance
    (248)
    Story
    (248)

    Based directly on Frank Herbert's final outline, which lay hidden in two safe-deposit boxes for a decade, Sandworms of Dune will answer the urgent questions Dune fans have been debating for two decades: the origin of the Honored Matres, the tantalizing future of the planet Arrakis, the final revelation of the Kwisatz Haderach, and the resolution to the war between Man and Machine.

    Amazon Customer says: "You'll buy it anyway"
    "A sad end to an otherwise excellent series."
    Overall

    This climax has been in the making for decades. I came to the party late but have really enjoyed the Dune series. The Brian/Kevin novels have been criticized by fans because of some emotional objections to the story being continued by anyone besides Frank Herbert but lets face it, the story is worth continuing. Besides, I've read many of Kevin J Anderson's other works and his writing is superb (until now) so I knew that these objections were nonsensical.

    What I like: Their continuation of the story is seamless. The dialog and behavior of the characters is spot on. The audiobook's narration is good and immersive despite the lack of consistency in character voices from book to book. The story is very engaging which makes it difficult to stop reading until the book is finished.

    What I didn't like: The final resolution of the story was abrupt and illogical. Here are a few points that make me say that...
    1. Sandworms can survive the moist atmosphere of Synchrony because they have the intelligence of Laito II to guide them, yet the original Laito II was killed by water.
    2. The identity of the face dancers was obvious yet these humans with evolved intelligences could not identify them. In fact, it was so obvious that these scenes were almost painful to endure.
    3. It seems that one no longer need undergo the spice agony to become a Kwisatz Haderach. One character (who won't be mentioned) simply needs to be told that he is the Final Kwisatz Haderach for him to realize he has all these powers. Ridiculous!

    Let us not forget that the very definition of a Kwisatz Haderach from the original Dune, is a male that can undergo the spice agony and tap into "other memory" from both male and female ancestors. Suddenly, the agony is no longer necessary.

    4. The war ends in a sort of 'fightus interruptus' where the author just breaks it off abruptly. I thought, "why not just do that from the start?"

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Baroness Orczy
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (275)
    Performance
    (185)
    Story
    (192)

    The Scarlet Pimpernel hides the identity of a British nobleman who, masked by various disguises, leads a band of young men to undermine the Reign of Terror after the French Revolution. The Scarlet Pimpernel makes daring raid after daring raid into the heart of France to save aristocrats condemned to the guillotine. At each rescue, he leaves his calling card: a small, blood-red flower - a pimpernel - mocking the power of Robespierre and his Committee of Public Safety.

    Amazon Customer says: "Beautifully Written Classic"
    "Delightful"
    Overall

    This book really pulled me in quickly. After the first few chapters I found myself drawn to it again and again. I burned through it relatively quickly. I found the theme to be quite serious though the presentation was spirited and humorous.

    An excellent read.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Jimmy Carter
    • Narrated By Jimmy Carter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (226)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (45)

    Following his #1 New York Times best seller Our Endangered Values, the former president, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, offers an assessment of what must be done to bring permanent peace to Israel, with dignity and justice for Palestine.

    D. Cohron says: "A Story Not Told in the US"
    "The whole truth"
    Overall

    I can describe this book in a word: WOW! I thought I was knowledgeable about the subject matter particularly by comparison with the average person but Jimmy Carter gives insight about the inner workings behind the scenes.

    As a person who once thought that the Palestinians were a bunch of terrorists, that opinion doesn't survive the application of objective logic. I now know that this is simply how they have been portrayed by partisan politicians, the media, and during election year speeches.

    I think everyone should read this book before assigning blame because there is plenty to go around. It is a complex situation which requires objectivity which is not possible until one knows the whole story.

    The most powerful aspect of the book is the description of the living conditions of the Muslims and Christians in the occupied territories. I almost wanted to cry for them.

    I shudder to think that my tax dollars have been used to lend blind support to these atrocities. The saddest thing is that so many people have been trained to look down on someone simply for questioning current policies. Any ideal worth standing for can easily withstand such questions. When a light is shined on the corner of a room, the only thing which scurries away is that which should not be.

    This book points out things each side has done to exacerbate the problem so to say it is biased is short-sighted. It is simply honest and provides a clear road map for a solution. To call it a must-read would be a gross understatement.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Your Heart Belongs to Me

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Dean Koontz
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (956)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (166)

    At 34, Internet entrepreneur Ryan Perry seemed to have the world in his pocket - until the first troubling symptoms appeared out of nowhere. Within days, he's diagnosed with incurable cardiomyopathy and finds himself on the waiting list for a heart transplant; it's his only hope, and it's dwindling fast. Ryan is about to lose it all...his health, his girlfriend Samantha, and his life.

    Serra55 says: "Dangerous Waters"
    "A Fresh Perspective"
    Overall

    This was my first Koontz book. I have had friends recommend his books to me in the past but never got around to reading one. When I saw this one featured on Audible I thought it would be a good chance to see how his reputation stacks up against the actual product.

    When I read some of the reviews I was surprised that so many people said they were disappointed because it didn't live up to his "usual standards." I have learned to ignore reviews where people use some arbitrary "standard" to judge a unique work rather than judging it on its own merits because I see similar comments about every single author reviewed here.

    The story concept is not all that unique but there are twists that lead in several directions that keep you guessing about 'who done it.' This kept me very engaged in the story. One thing that impressed me about his style is how he gets you into the minds of the characters. You understand their motivations even when they are on the wrong side of an issue.

    By the end of the story, I really cared about what happened to the main characters and appreciated how they had changed. Then, the book past my final test of a really good book. I found myself thinking about the book for the next couple of days for example, "Man, if only so and so had seen this detail earlier, the whole thing may have turned out differently." That doesn't always happen, even in books I like. But it happened with this one.

    Judged on its own merits, this book was thoroughly enjoyable. If the Koontz "fans" who gave this book a negative review are correct about how it stacks up against his other work, I'm glad I read this one first. I am now quite hungry for more.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Heretics of Dune: Dune Chronicles, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Frank Herbert
    • Narrated By Simon Vance, Scott Brick
    Overall
    (717)
    Performance
    (386)
    Story
    (389)

    On Arrakis, now called Rakis, known to legend as Dune, 10 times 10 centuries have passed. The planet is becoming desert again. The Lost Ones are returning home from the far reaches of space. The great sandworms are dying, and the Bene Gesserit and the Bene Tleilax struggle to direct the future of Dune. The children of Dune's children awaken as from a dream, wielding the new power of a heresy called love.

    John says: "Mixed Feelings"
    "Mixed Feelings"
    Overall

    This series is addictive despite how disjointed the stories are as a whole. It is difficult to reign in the concept of thousands of years passing from one book to the next. Especially since with the exception of Duncan Idaho, there is not one character from the last book remaining and keeping track of who is who and how they fit into the overall plot, is a daunting task.

    That said, this is not a stand alone story. The main issues posed by the storyline are not resolved and this is the first book in the series that ends in a way that is incomplete without the next book in the series. That was a bit disappointing.

    It also needs to be said that there are graphic descriptions of a sexual nature that border on the pornographic. I am not a prude and was not disturbed by these descriptions but in retrospect, I don't see how these sequences advanced the storyline. They could have been done with a bit more finesse and I have no doubt that there are people who would be offended by them.

    The subtle complexities of political maneuvers by the major characters provide the most intrigue of this book. Frank Herbert managed to hold my attention through the end despite the tedium of Miles Teg and Duncan Idaho spending 3/4 of the book trying to get off the planet Gammu. This reminded me of Indiana Jones trying to escape the mines in the claustrophobic "Temple of Doom."

    Obviously, I have mixed feelings about the book but I enjoyed it overall and consider it a worthwhile read, if only to complete the series.

    15 of 19 people found this review helpful

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