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John S.

Seattle, WA United States | Member Since 2005

ratings
170
REVIEWS
136
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
21
HELPFUL VOTES
318

  • Civilization: The West and the Rest

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Niall Ferguson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (776)
    Performance
    (651)
    Story
    (644)

    The rise to global predominance of Western civilization is the single most important historical phenomenon of the past five hundred years. All over the world, an astonishing proportion of people now work for Western-style companies, study at Western-style universities, vote for Western-style governments, take Western medicines, wear Western clothes, and even work Western hours. Yet six hundred years ago the petty kingdoms of Western Europe seemed unlikely to achieve much more than perpetual internecine warfare. It was Ming China or Ottoman Turkey that had the look of world civilizations.

    F. Ribeiro says: "Niall Ferguson's Most Enjoyable Book"
    "I like to think I'm intelligent"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    and am well-educated, but failed to get whatever "point" Ferguson was making here - just lots and lots (and lots!) of historical stories/anecdotes/facts for 14 hours. His reading wasn't a problem for me; although the sections where he read quoted passages in the speakers' accented English seemed weird at times, that did serve to set them off from the "story" itself.

    If I had the choice again, I'd read (skim) the print version instead. I tried breaking it down to listening no more than an hour per day, and even that left me looking at the time-elapsed counter frequently.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Asuntos Propios

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By José Morella
    • Narrated By Antonio Abenójar
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (1)

    Roberto es un hombre acostumbrado a hacer lo que le da la gana. Un hombre independiente. Se jubiló hace seis años, pero, a sus setenta y un años, sigue traduciendo. Y cada mañana se sienta delante del ordenador, y traduce durante horas. La señora Dolores, la portera, sube a limpiar el piso un par de veces por semana pero cuando sufre una embolia y ya no puede volver a trabajar, Isabel, la hija de Roberto, insiste en que su padre pida una asistenta. Un lunes, Jacinta llama a la puerta.

    John S. says: "Character driven story"
    "Character driven story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found the narrator's European accent (Iberian Spanish) made the story a bit hard to follow. In a nutshell, it's an old man's quandary of reconciling a sense of obligation and desire, where he can't do both. So, not a whole lot actually "happens" in the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Edward Klein
    • Narrated By Lars Mikaelson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (79)
    Performance
    (70)
    Story
    (69)

    In this highly anticipated follow-up to his blockbuster New York Times bestseller The Amateur, former New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief Edward Klein delves into the rocky relationship between the Obamas and the Clintons. An old-school reporter with incredible insider contacts, Klein reveals just how deep the rivalry between the Obamas and the Clintons runs, with details on closed-door meetings buttressed by hundreds of interviews.

    DS Ells says: "Fascinating!"
    "As another review once said ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    even if 50% of the information is true, there must be something there. That's kind of how I felt about this one, given the author's admitted hatred of Democratic politics. I like President Obama, though have felt frustrated by his "hands off" approach to the actual political process, until recently at least. In a sense, I can't argue that the White House team did behave amateurishly in terms of letting their opponents define them on issues.
    I'm no fan of the Clintons either, though I felt Hillary managed her best to bring her people to the nominee's side for a 2008 win. I've never been a fan of Bill since he appeared on the national scene in 1992 - ugh. Here, he's bitter and obsessed over the way he and Hillary have been treated by the Obamas since 2008. Supposedly, his 2012 all-out effort on behalf of Obama was motivated by fantasies of a "third term" (his, or Hillary's, they'll have to thrash out if and when it happens), with Obama obliged to strongly support Hillary from the moment she announces (which the author absolutely asserts she will). I was left unsure whether such an agreement really existed, or is something Bill felt was implied?
    The bottom line is that the un-named sources were likely present during the events, giving (relatively) accurate reports for the book, even if spun rather ... dramatically.
    So, I found the book worth reading, even if the author's bias did intrude a lot. Of the four principals, Hillary came off as the most sympathetic, and Barack as the most negative, with his aloof manner, allowing himself to be duped by the modern day Rasputin, Valerie Jarrett. I had a very hard time reconciling the largely upbeat-in-interviews Michelle with the entitled prima donna she is portrayed as having become; the truth must be a little of both, but how much I couldn't say.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Price of Politics

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Bob Woodward
    • Narrated By Boyd Gaines
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (240)
    Performance
    (197)
    Story
    (196)

    Based on 18 months of reporting, Woodward's 17th book The Price of Politics is an intimate, documented examination of how President Obama and the highest profile Republican and Democratic leaders in the United States Congress attempted to restore the American economy and improve the federal government's fiscal condition over three and one half years. The Price of Politics addresses the key issue of the presidential and congressional campaigns: the condition of the American economy.

    Graham says: "Making the Sausage"
    "Hardcore wonkery!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Most of the book consists of re-hashes of daily meetings of the president and congressional figures over the debt ceiling crisis, with balanced re-hashing from all sides' points of view.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Room at the Inn: A Jeff Resnick Mystery, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By L. L. Bartlett
    • Narrated By Jordan Murphy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (13)

    Jeff Resnick is definitely out of his element when he and Maggie take a working vacation at a quaint Vermont inn. For most people, the chance to spend time with a beautiful woman in a romantic, isolated setting would be a plus, but the moment Jeff crosses the Sugar Maple Inn's threshold, his sixth sense warns him that someone is about to meet a violent death. His anxiety intensifies when he travels on one of the local roads and is nearly overwhelmed by feelings of impending doom.

    John S. says: "Narrator miscast"
    "Narrator miscast"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read this one after the others, even though it's set earlier in the series, so was a bit confused; I kept thinking Brenda was home recuperating from the stress of the most recent story. I see it was written in 2012, but I wasn't aware of the book until its release as an audio book.

    Unfortunately, the audio edition drags down an otherwise so-so plot. The narration is just awful! I stuck it out from determination to see if the story might be worth it - not really; I ended up regretting I hadn't read a print copy instead. Instead of the voice of Buffalo native Jeff, we get a guy who sounds more like he spent his life in the New Jersey suburbs. Richard seems a bit of a well meaning, loyal sidekick, whose main feature is to be a handy doctor when needed, as well as being rich enough to splash money around as needed.

    I didn't care who committed the murder, as I found the suspects largely a boring lot. Jeff's psychic ability, which comes into play regularly (more than I recall from the other stories) was the redeeming feature for me.

    This one is definitely NOT a stand-alone at all. Read the first book to understand Jeff's background, and Richard's. This one adds nothing to the series as I don't recall these events affecting later plotlines.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Sphinx Collection: Three Sherlock Holmes Mysteries in One Book

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 32 mins)
    • By Pennie Mae Cartawick
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Three compelling Sherlock Holmes mysteries in one book. Story one: "The Mystery of the Poisoned Tomb" Story two: "The Case of the Cracked Mirror" Story three: "The Mystery of the Faceless Bride" Set in the late 19th century, no fictional character is more renowned for his powers of thought and observation than Sherlock Holmes.

    John S. says: "Nothing special"
    "Nothing special"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Simon Prebble's narration was fine, but didn't make these stories stand out at all ... they were just sort of ... there. Final one I found a bit creepy, and hard to believe.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Eccentric Painter (A Sherlock Holmes Uncovered Tale)

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 8 mins)
    • By Steven Ehrman
    • Narrated By John Patrick Conn
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (11)

    Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are called in on the murder of a wealthy English country squire. The deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes are on full display as he flushes the killer from a group of suspects with perfect alibis.

    John S. says: "Has promise, but ..."
    "Has promise, but ..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First of all, many listeners will find the American narrator's voice a complete deal-breaker; however, that wasn't a problem for me. I did notice at one point Holmes calling their young female client "My dear", something ACD's Holmes would never have done. The story itself was okay, though as others have mentioned, brief with a beginning and end, but no real middle section. So, I'm open to reading another, but not in any hurry at all about doing so.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Hairy Hikers: A Coast-to-Coast Trek Along the French Pyrenees

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By David Le Vay
    • Narrated By Rupert Farley
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Fuelled by a degree of mid-life crisis and the need to escape, albeit temporarily, the dull routine of modern life, David and Rob set out to walk from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, taking in French villages, beautiful scenery, and one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in Europe. Just about perfect – if you can put aside the inevitable conflict, drama, and unexpected tedium that results from two men spending over seven solid weeks in each other’s company!

    John S. says: "Recommended with limited enthusiasm"
    "Recommended with limited enthusiasm"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have to agree with a reviewer who said he found the author's regular "We're not a 'couple'!" protestations a bit off-putting; moreover, the audio narration came of as a bit effete to me, which didn't help in that regard.

    As a travel narrative, it was okay, although there was a fair amount of emphasis on the other hikers they met as part of the story; that aspect didn't fully work for me. There's much juvenile humor, unfortunately made worse by the narration as well. I suspect the print version might be a full three stars, with 2.5 for the audio edition. I will say the writing itself is fairly good in terms of flow, so it's not a matter of needing "editing" as such.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Double Down: Game Change 2012

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Mark Halperin, John Heilemann
    • Narrated By Robert Fass
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (472)
    Performance
    (419)
    Story
    (424)

    Drawing on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Heilemann and Halperin deliver another reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, Double Down offers a panoramic account of a campaign at once intensely hard fought and lastingly consequential. For Obama, the victory he achieved meant even more to him than the one he had pulled off four years earlier.

    Tony says: "Game Change 2.0"
    "Slow start"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was concerned that the book wouldn't tell me much I didn't already know, but I had a hard time putting it down. The first section, between the 2010 mid-terms and the Republican race was a bit boring, but not mind-numbingly so. The primary coverage was fascinating, and took up over a third of the story -- I had no idea that the establishment had been working so frantically behind the scenes to get Christie into the race, to avoid being stuck with Mitt. The final part on the general was largely focused on the debates I felt, with some reference to Hurricane Sandy and other events, seeming a bit tacked-on/rushed in that regard. In the final post-mortem, it was obvious that Mitt and his team failed to acknowledge that they lost because they were out-of-step with the American people, blaming the loss (pretty much) solely on higher-than-predicted Dem turnout (by the infamous 47%).

    Audio narration was very good, a few minor quibbles aside.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Brief History of Life in Victorian Britain

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Michael Paterson
    • Narrated By Mark Meadows
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (30)

    The Victorian era has dominated the popular imagination like no other period, but these myths and stories also give a very distorted view of the 19th century. The early Victorians were much stranger than we usually imagine, and their world would have felt very different from our own. It was only during the long reign of the Queen that a modern society emerged in unexpected ways.

    Troy says: "Brief, But Insightful"
    "Glad I bought it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A good overview of how much things changed during the reign, as well as a good comparison of how much technology changed society in a lifetime, similar to modern history.

    Good narration - recommended

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Michael Rosen
    • Narrated By Michael Rosen
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (35)

    From minding your Ps and Qs to wondering why X should mark the spot, Alphabetical is a book for everyone who loves words and language. Whether it's how letters are arranged on keyboards or Viking runes, textspeak or zip codes, this book will change the way you think about letters forever. How on earth did we fix upon our 26 letters? What do they really mean? And how did we come to write them down in the first place? Michael Rosen takes you on an unforgettable adventure through the history of the alphabet in 26 vivid chapters, fizzing with personal anecdotes and fascinating facts.

    Douglas McClure says: "Enjoyable - and the PDF file is indeed available"
    "PDF not essential"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Twenty-six entries each starting with a brief overview of a letter of the alphabet (historical background, phonetics, etc.), used as a jumping off point for a digression of a specific linguistic (for lack of a better term) aspect. Some were (at least mildly) interesting, while others (often having to do with the author's own life) weren't. Overall, the book worked to pass time when I needed to fill short periods with background noise. Rosen's reading was okay as author-narrated books go, but I might've preferred to skim the print book I think if I had to go back and decide again.

    One point that irritated me more as the book went on was the incredibly U. K. centric focus. I accept that Rosen is English himself, but as most folks for whom English is their primary language are NOT British, the short shrift he gives in passing to that fact seemed a bit ... patronizing - with a "zee"!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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