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David R. Tolson

upper marlboro, maryland | Member Since 2005

ratings
17
REVIEWS
12
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
12

  • Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Ross Douthat
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    Overall
    (93)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (78)

    Ross Douthat, the youngest-ever op-ed columnist for the New York Times, has emerged as one of the most provocative and influential voices of his generation. Now he offers a masterful and hard-hitting account of how American Christianity has gone off the rails - and why it threatens to take American society with it.

    Lynn says: "Broad Stroke Analysis"
    "A Great Story Falls Flat"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Ross Douthat's thesis of Bad Religion is brilliant: The problem with America is not the evil doers, but religious leaders' unwillingness to stay true to God's calling (my paraphrase). However, the story fell flat for me when he called Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a "serial adulterer" while not using the active voice to criticize one single Southern Minister for not speaking on behalf of the Civil Rights Movement during a time when Jim Crow had a death-grip on African Americans. He extols The Reverend Billy Graham as the greatest evangelist that the United States has seen; however, if the book is supposed to be as "hard hitting" as the sales information says, he should have been evenhanded with Graham as he was with King, by demonstrating that Graham had to defend himself at times for remarks that were considered ant-Semitic. Plus there is no record that Graham ever stood up for the rights of blacks in the 1940s through the 1960s, and instead of making this assertion, Douthat uses the passive voice by saying "Southern ministers" did not do a very good job in condemning the national climate of hatred against blacks.

    A critic could probably argue that Dr. King's alleged affairs are significant to his work as a man of God; however, those same critics, if they will be fair, will give an evenhanded account of the challenges that were faced by Billy Graham, including charges of anti-
    Semitism and his refusal to speak out against racial injustice at a time when he was perhaps the most celebrated evangelist in the Country.

    If you're indifferent to an author offending the legacy of a national hero, who has received the highest honor that any country can bestow upon a citizen - naming a national holiday in recognition of his birth, then there is probably a lot to be learned in Bad Religion. I felt betrayed as a reader with an insatiable appetite for the printed/spoken word, who happens to be a great admirer of Dr. King's courageous work as a civil rights leader that the author would affix a near blasphemous accusation upon him and disregard the allegations of anti-Semitism against Billy Graham. In fact, I would urge those who believe in Liberty and Justice for all to write the publisher, Free Press, and demand that the next printing of Bad Religion either remove the reference about King being a "serial adulterer," or add that Graham had to defend himself against claims of anti-Semitic statements during the Nixon Administration, plus add in the active voice that Graham never condemned the United States for its treatment of blacks during the Civil Rights Era.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Affair: A Jack Reacher Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Lee Child
    • Narrated By Dick Hill
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3341)
    Performance
    (2761)
    Story
    (2767)

    Everything starts somewhere. For elite military cop Jack Reacher, that somewhere was Carter Crossing, Mississippi, way back in 1997. A young woman is dead, and solid evidence points to a soldier at a nearby military base. But that soldier has powerful friends in Washington. Reacher is ordered undercover - to find out everything he can, to control the local police, and then to vanish. Reacher is a good soldier. But when he gets to Carter Crossing, he finds layers no one saw coming, and the investigation spins out of control. Local sheriff Elizabeth Deveraux has a thirst for justice - and an appetite for secrets.

    Melinda says: ""All Aboard!""
    "Too Many Loose Ends"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Except for a few novelists, I only listen to fiction as an escape from listening to hours of sometimes intense nonfiction; therefore, I prefer fast paced action or edge of your seat thrillers when I do stray from my first love. Consequently, if someone told me before purchasing the book that The Affair was written in the style of Agatha Cristie or PD James, I would not have selected it, but after I started listening, I was in for the penny, I figured I'd stay in for the pound, so I listened to the entire book.

    First, I wasn't thrilled by the reader, whose voice didn't match the character Reacher, but since the narration seemed to recount an event that happened years earlier, I suspected that Reacher was an older man telling a story of an earlier adventure. However, that part of the story was never made clear by the end of the book (unless I missed it). Although his performance was much better for the other characters, I couldn't reconcile his voice with the main character.

    I'd say if you're looking for action or suspense, this is not the book for you. However, I did like the way he tied a bow at the end, although I think he could have done a much better job tying up all of the other loose ends.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Woodcutter

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Reginald Hill
    • Narrated By Jonathan Keeble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1146)
    Performance
    (844)
    Story
    (839)

    Wolf Hadda's life was a fairytale - successful businessman and adored husband. But a knock on the door one morning ends it all. Universally reviled, thrown into prison, Wolf retreats into silence. Seven years later Wolf begins to talk to the prison psychiatrist and receives parole to return home. But there's a mysterious period in Wolf's past when he was known as the Woodcutter. Now the Woodcutter is back, looking for truth and revenge...

    Diana says: "One of my favorite Reginald Hill books!"
    "A Diamond in the Rough"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The woodcutter would have never been on my list of favorites or sitting in the que of my wish list if it had not been for the glowing recommendations that I read in the reviews from other listeners. If you’re like me, you are judicious with your credits, and you don’t want to waste them, or more importantly squander 16 hours listening to a book that is disappointing. The book is set a few years into the future in England, and if you’re not careful, you may come away rehearsing your best British accent as I have been doing since about halfway through. The reader is spectacular, the pace is nearly perfect, but in a few scenes it felt like the author, Reginald Hill, could have gotten to the point quicker. It is written with a similar pace to P.D. James and Agatha Christie.

    Hill gives a number of unexpected, but pleasant, some may say shocking, surprises; mostly in part 2. He ends the book with a swift, satisfying climax, which if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss; not because it is too complex, but because it moves very quickly.

    There are thousands of books screaming for my attention, and Reginald Hill’s voice just got a little louder.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Inventing the AIDS Virus

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Peter H. Duesberg
    • Narrated By J. Arthur Tripp
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    An eminent scientist and pioneer in the discovery of retroviruses challenges the widely accepted belief that HIV is the cause of AIDS. Duesberg argues that HIV is merely a harmless passenger virus that does not cause AIDS. Sure to spark intense debate, this provocative book offers an original and incisive critique of the rise and fall of HIV.

    Douglas D. Huntley says: "Must read/listen for everyone!"
    "Hyperbole at its Best, But Sounds Plausible"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first thing that struck me as I listened to the book and its hyperbolic claim that HIV does not cause AIDS, was that the book was written 15 years ago. And of course, 15 years of medical research is nearly an eternity; consequently, I would have preferred a book making such a brazen claim that had a more recent copyright. I found one on Amazon, Science Sold Out by Rebecca Culshaw (2007); however, it is not available on audio or digital, so I was limited to Duesberg's research if I was staying with audio. Although most of the book was too detailed for my taste buds - quoting stats and referring to studies - his premise seems to be plausible.

    After listening to Inventing the AIDS Virus, I was reminded of the old saying, "It was worth the price of admission." Despite the chock full of statistics, there is plenty to like about the book. I found a number of items that made the listen worth while. For instance (and I don't think this is a spoiler), Duesberg questions the notion of a virus causing a terminal disease that lays dormant in the body for more than 10 years. Typically a virus manifests its symptoms within days or weeks. As simple as that sounds, it was worth listening to the book to just be reminded of that one fact.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Simon Dunstan, Gerrard Williams
    • Narrated By Don Hagen
    Overall
    (125)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (113)

    When Truman asked Stalin in 1945 whether Hitler was dead, Stalin replied bluntly, "No." As late as 1952, Eisenhower declared: "We have been unable to unearth one bit of tangible evidence of Hitler's death." What really happened? Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams have compiled extensive evidence - some recently declassified - that Hitler actually fled Berlin and took refuge in a remote Nazi enclave in Argentina.

    Shyam says: "A Very Bizarre Little Audiobook"
    "Too Long, but Worth Listening to Half"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've heard rumors for years that Adolf Hitler escaped to South America at the end of WWII. If it was true, Grey Wolf notwithstanding, then the rest of the world must have ignored it; the same thing that I should have done with part one of the book. The author gives much more detail than is necessary for most people regarding the alleged escape of Hitler from Europe during the waning days of the War. Anyone interested in this story, unless you're a Nazi or a historian, I would strongly urge that you skip part one and go directly to part two.
    You will not miss anything important, since the story of Hitler's escape really does not start until part two. Part one basically talks about the fortunes of war turning for the Third Reich and how a few of Hitler's close aids started thinking about an escape. The irony here is that Hitler was maniacal about every soldier fighting until the bitter end, while he was looking for ways to escape the carnage he created as early as 1943.

    For a subject that is at best, esoteric and at worst, a fabrication, the authors Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams does give it plausibility. That said, it is worth listening to, but cue the story at the second half mark.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Eric Metaxas
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1552)
    Performance
    (1023)
    Story
    (1044)

    A definitive, deeply moving narrative, Bonhoeffer is a story of moral courage in the face of the monstrous evil that was Nazism. After discovering the fire of true faith in a Harlem church, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany and became one of the first to speak out against Hitler. As a double agent, he joined the plot to assassinate the Führer and was hanged in Flossenbürg concentration camp at age thirty-nine. Since his death, Bonhoeffer has grown to be one of the most fascinating, complex figures of the twentieth century.

    Alan says: "Very Moving"
    "One of the Great Prophets of Our Age"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If enjoying a book on the Third Reich and the Holocaust is an oxymoron then loving one is insane.

    I have heard mostly ministers speak in glowing terms of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and although I had never studied his work, I simply parroted what I heard others say about him: “Great Prophet;” “Gave his life for the cause of Christ;” “Very few like him;” etc. However, it was not until I listened to Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich that I developed an admiration for him that I usually set aside for prophets of the Holy Scripture. Listening to this book about Bonheoffer challenged me to muse over this point: How committed am I to the things that really count in life; not whether I’m paying too much for cable TV, but the issues of life where I can make a real difference in the quality of life of others? My conclusion: Unfortunately for me, examining a life like Bonheoffer’s shows me that I am not disciplined enough, and it illustrates in me an unwillingness to lay my life on the line as Bonhoeffer did. Consequently, I would be satisfied living in the shadows of this giant of the 20th century.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Philip Shenon
    • Narrated By Dave Mallow
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    In a work of history that will make headlines, New York Times reporter Philip Shenon investigates the investigation of 9/11 and tells the inside story of most important federal commission since the the Warren Commission. Shenon uncovers startling new information about the inner workings of the 9/11 Commission and its relationship with the Bush White House.

    David R. Tolson says: "This Book Fills in a Few Missing Pieces"
    "This Book Fills in a Few Missing Pieces"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Commission definitely has a liberal bias; however, what I found interesting about the book is that it gives the reader some background on most of the commissioners along with the staff members. For instance, if I had not listened to this book, I would have never known that Philip Zelikow, the Executive Director of the Commission and its day-to-day manager, had a cozy relationship with National Security Adviser, Condoleezza. Although the 9/11 Commission states in the Preface of its report that they were not out to assign individual blame, whether you're Liberal, Moderate (as I am) or Conservative, it caused me to view the entire report with some suspicion and then discovering that the Commission's executive Director was an acolyte of one of the Bush Administration's major figures, it added an even healthier dose of skepticism to my viewing of the report.

    I particularly enjoyed his recounting of how the 911 Commission evolved after a number of widows of 9/11 forced Henry Kissinger's recusal from his Chairman's position because he refused to disclose the client list of his highly regard firm, Kissinger Associates.

    Despite it's Liberal slant, Shenon does a good job filling in the missing pieces that are left out of the 9/11 Commission Report. As the old wise man once told me - "Eat the meat and pick the bones." It was certainly worth my time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sum of All Fears

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Tom Clancy
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    Overall
    (740)
    Performance
    (614)
    Story
    (625)

    Against all odds we have made it into the last half of the 1990s. The Cold War looks solved, Arabs and Jews are talking, confrontation is on the wane. In this new harmony, one discord -- what becomes of unemployed terrorists?

    Ray says: "Thoughts on The Sum of All Fears"
    "Clancy's Best? Debatable, But it is my Favorite"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As of late, there has been a real drought in books that interest me, so I have resorted to revisiting books that I’ve already listened to. I revisited Tom Clancy’s The Sum of All Fears over the last 10 days (38 hours), and I must say, this is one of the most thrilling books that I have ever listened to, and the performer, Scott Brick, is one of the best voice actors that I’ve ever heard, Mel Blanc notwithstanding. The book is such a long listen that you will be appreciative of a voice that brings all of the characters to life, because it could spiral to the edge of boredom very quickly.

    The Sum of All Fears may be Clancy's best novel...it is certainly the best one that I have listened to. He sold the movie rights, but like most great books that are adapted to the screen, it is hard to repeat the success of the book. The movie is worth watching; however, don't think that the audiobook will be anticlimatic because you saw the movie. I've listened to this book a half-dozen times and I still find my flesh crawling at some points in the story.

    If you would enjoy a high stakes chess match between the United States and Russia with nuclear chips on the side, this book will be a delight. What Clancy did that was so refreshing was that he demonstrated that Russia was as insightful and perhaps more-so than the US in their efforts to stave off mutually assured destruction. Two Superpowers are on the verge of a nuclear exchange and the first one that blinks could bring the world back to the stone ages.

    Simply a fantastic book. I listened to it the for the first time more than 20 years ago, and I can tell you exactly where I was and what time of the day it was when the reader began to go through the process of a nuclear chain reaction. Clancy distilled the process of a nuclear reaction to such an elementary degree that I actually felt like a nuclear physicist as the process was being described.

    To say that audiobooks are "theater of the mind" is an understatement for The Sum of All Fears, because there were moments when I felt like I was in the midst of the action. This is a 5-star recommendation from me, and you will not be disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hannibal

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Thomas Harris
    • Narrated By Daniel Gerroll
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (16)

    Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter escaped from custody, seven years since FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling interviewed him in a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane. The doctor is still at large, pursuing his own ineffable interests, savoring the scents, the essences of an unguarded world. But Starling has never forgotten her encounters with Dr. Lecter, and the metallic rasp of his seldom-used voice still sounds in her dreams. Mason Verger remembers Dr. Lecter, too, and is obsessed with revenge.

    Graziano C. Carlon says: "Great Story but the last 25 pages are missing"
    "Great story, but missings a few pieces"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Hannibal ranks as one of my favorite books. It is fascinating how Thomas Harris successfully created an admirable villain, but in a weird ironic way, Hannibal makes the world a better, because he only attacks/eats those who are vile. I think there is a quote in the book where Barney (former orderly in Silence of the Lambs) says, "Dr. Lecter said he only ate 'the free-range rude.'"

    Mason Verger is one of Hannibal's earlier victims who wants revenge, and he will stop at nothing to repay Dr. Lecter with a similar fate as his.

    As I listened to the book, I didn't know who was the sickest: Verger; Dr. Lecter; Harris for creating these characters; or me for enjoying them.

    What I particularly enjoyed about the book was how brilliant Lecter was; from his knowledge of Medieval literature, to his nearly perfect Italian, to his quick wit, to Hannibal's memory palace.

    I loved the book; however, since I have listened to the unabridged version of the book numerous times, I was dissappointed to discover that this book really lies somewhere in that Purgatory between abridged and unabridged: certain quotes and lines were left out and the book abruptly ends with about 25 pages left. These 25 pages are crucial, because they demonstrate the consequence of greed, which is a major theme in the book. Despite the lack of quality control from Audible on this one, I still gave it a 4-stars out of 5. It is definitely worth listening to, and who knows? by the time new listeners download the book, this problem may be corrected. If not, go to the local library and check out the book and read the final 25 pages, because it is definitely worth the time. Sorry!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Dead or Alive

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Tom Clancy, Grant Blackwood
    • Narrated By Lou Diamond Phillips
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4882)
    Performance
    (2661)
    Story
    (2677)

    Jack Ryan, the former president of the United States, is out of office, but not out of the loop about his brainchild, the “Campus” - a highly effective, counter-terrorism organization that operates outside the Washington hierarchy. But what Ryan doesn’t know is that his son, Jack Ryan, Jr., has joined his cousins, Brian and Dominic Caruso, at the shadowy Campus. While a highly effective analyst, young Ryan hungers for the action of a field agent.

    Robert B. Wales says: "Same great Clancey - Great narration"
    "Has Clancy Forgotten How to Write Great Fiction?"
    Overall

    I resist the temptation to name this review "DOA," but not "Dead or Alive," but "Dead on Arrival." It is not quite that bad, but almost. With all of the glaring reviews for Dead or Alive, it makes me wonder if there are professional review companies out there that are paid a fee to place (in Clancy's case) dozens of great reviews for the author. First, with the exception of the Middle Eastern voices, the reader was horrible, plus the actual female voice seemed like the producers simply copied her voice in after the bulk of the voice over was done. How did that get by the focus group? It was actually irritating until I could finally block it out. Second, I don't need a character telling me that the President is doing a screw up job. Why not go back to fiction 101 and show the president making screw up decisions, instead of trying to convince me that he was a screw-up. In fact, ironically, the decisions that he makes in the book seemed to be prudent, but perhaps that is my moderate ideology coming out, so who is Clancy preaching too. Third, part of the plot was unbelievable, particularly in the end with the doctor, because no one, not even the doctor himself seemed to believe that what he was doing was working the way he was told it would work. If the characters do not believe the process, how can the reader believe it.

    I would ask for my money back if I thought I could get a refund. I would wait for this to be made into a movie and then pray that the screenplay writer(s), director and producers do a better job at adapting to the screen than Clancy did at laying out on the page.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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