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Neil Babcox

Member Since 2007

ratings
160
REVIEWS
6
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
3
HELPFUL VOTES
105

  • Justice

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Michael J. Sandel
    • Narrated By Michael J. Sandel
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (315)
    Performance
    (138)
    Story
    (138)

    What are our obligations to others as people in a free society? Should government tax the rich to help the poor? Is the free market fair? Is it sometimes wrong to tell the truth? Do individual rights and the common good conflict? These questions are at the core of our public life today - and at the heart of Justice, in which Michael J. Sandel shows how a surer grasp of philosophy can help us to make sense of politics, morality, and our own convictions as well.

    Neil Babcox says: "A very worthwhile book"
    "A very worthwhile book"
    Overall

    Justice, by Michael J. Sandel, is a book version of one of the most popular classes at Harvard. In the course of the book, Sandel deals with just about every political/ethical hot button issue you can think of, from abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage to the redistribution of wealth. The purpose of the author is not simply to deal with these issues individually, but to show that how we resolve these issues is dependent on a much larger question: what is justice and what does it mean to live in a just society? Sandel compares and contrasts the three most influential theories of justice.
    In the process, Sandel explains the views of Aristotle, Bentham, Mill, Kant, Rawls and others. Do not let this scare you off! Sandel is an exceptional teacher and his explanations are as simple and as clear as possible. Though Sandel has his own point of view, he is up front about it and is very fair in his treatment of different viewpoints. whether you are coming from the Left or the Right, there ismuch to learn and appreciate here. One of the main points Sandel makes throughout the book(and here he is in agreement with President Obama) is that Progressives were mistaken in ceding many moral and religious issues to the Conservatives. This book deserves a wide readership. It is currently on the New York Times Best Seller List.
    I'm generally not a fan of authors reading their own books. This one is an exception. Sandel does an excellent job and his sincerity is evident in the tone of his voice.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Stoner

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By John Williams
    • Narrated By Robin Field
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (199)
    Performance
    (150)
    Story
    (152)

    William Stoner is born at the end of the 19th century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar's life, far different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments.

    Neil Babcox says: "A masterpiece"
    "A masterpiece"
    Overall

    I had never heard of this book but was so intrigued by the description (also the description at Amazon) that I decided to give it a try. It is a masterpiece -- one of the great novels of the 20th century. (So why hadn't I ever heard of it?) It's the story of a farmboy who attends the University of MO to study agriculture and falls in love with literature and becomes a professor of English literature at the same school. The book spans World War I & II. The story is almost emotionally devasastating but the author writes with such restraint -- showing not telling -- that the power is heightened all the more. Concealed art at its finest. I couldn';t put it down. Not boring for a moment. The narrator, Robin Field, is spot on perfect for this book. Great, great stuff.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • No Man Is an Island

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Thomas Merton
    • Narrated By Jonathan Montaldo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (68)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (44)

    >No Man Is an Island is a collection of 16 essays in which Thomas Merton plumbs aspects of human spirituality. Merton treats the “basic verities on which the spiritual life depends”. Essay themes include hope, conscience, sacrifice, charity, sincerity, mercy, and silence. The work is threaded through with Merton’s deep awareness that we are all called to “live not for ourselves but for others”.

    Neil Babcox says: "A Gem of a Book"
    "A Gem of a Book"
    Overall

    I discovered Thomas Merton when I came upon Seeds of Contemplation while browsing in the stacks of a Library during the early years of my spiritual journey. He has been a spiritual companion and guide ever since. No Man is an Island is the sequel to Seeds of Contemplation. The titles of the reflections will give you a good taste of the content:
    1. Love Can Only Be Kept By Being Given Away
    2. Sentences On Hope
    3. Conscience, Freedom and Prayer
    4. Pure Intention
    5. The Word of the Cross
    6. Asceticism and Sacrifice
    7. Being and Doing
    8. Vocation
    9. The Measure of Charity
    10. Sincerity
    11. Mercy
    12. Recollection
    13. My Soul Remembered God
    14. The Wind Blows Where It Pleases
    15. The Inward Solitude
    16. Silence
    These are quite simply some of the most profound spiritual reflections I have ever read by any author from any period of history. Sentences On Hope is the finest exposition of the true meaning of hope, a subject of special interest to me, that I have ever read. The Word of the Cross is a stunning exposition of the meaning and use of suffering. The final chapter, Silence, is rapturous (I use the word advisedly). These reflections can be read and re-read. The sheer weight of the insight contained warrants many readings and many returns. The book is a gem.

    The narration is good.

    I have long wished Audible would offer for books of serious spiritual literature, especially from the Catholic Tradition. They seem to be moving in that direction. Thanks, Audible, for making such a fine volume available.

    39 of 39 people found this review helpful
  • Henderson the Rain King

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Saul Bellow
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Bellow evokes all the rich colour and exotic customs of a highly imaginary Africa in this comic novel about a middle-aged American millionaire who, seeking a new, more rewarding life, descends upon an African tribe. Henderson's awesome feats of strength and his unbridled passion for life earns him the admiration of the tribe - but it is his gift for making rain that turns him from mere hero into messiah.

    Neil Babcox says: "Great book, great audiobook"
    "Great book, great audiobook"
    Overall

    This is one of my favorite books and one of my favorite audiobooks. It was also Bellow's own favorite among the books he had written. The Modern Library lists it as number 21 of the 100 all time best novels. Such a shame that it's so little known!

    Eugene Henderson is rich, middle-aged, and a man of great physical strength who views himself as an utter failure. He can't escape the voice he hears crying out incessantly within him: I want ... I want ... . The problem is, he can't figure out what it is he wants! So off he goes to Africa (maybe he can find out there) where he winds up being anointed the Rain King in a remote village.

    The book is absolutely astonishing in its inventiveness and creativity. It is at once philosophical, gripping and hilarious. Henderson is one of the most memorable characters I have ever had the good pleasure of meeting in literature. I was laughing out loud with sheer joy throughout the book.

    Joe Barret establishes himself as one of the very best audio readers ever with this recording in my opinion (and I've listened to a lot of audiobooks over the past 25 years!) I've heard Joe Barret do Bonfire of the Vanities and also a Paul Auster novel, but here he outdoes himself. Mr. Barret virtually becomes Henderson. The man should get an award for this reading!!

    Years ago I came across an abridged audio version narrated by Tom Skerrit and have been hoping for an unabridged version ever since. Thanks to Audible's Modern Vanguard Series for making it happen.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Swann's Way

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Marcel Proust
    • Narrated By John Rowe
    Overall
    (221)
    Performance
    (54)
    Story
    (56)

    Swann's Way is the first volume of Proust's supreme masterpiece, the seven-part novel entitled Remembrance of Things Past. In it, Proust recalls the early youth of Charles Swann in the small town of Combray as seen through the eyes of the narrator. It then shifts to Swann himself, now a fashionable man caught up in turn-of-the-century Paris and a tortured love affair.

    Cheryl says: "A masterpiece, brilliantly read"
    "Stunning Literary Art"
    Overall

    Swann's Way is the first of Marcel Proust's seven volume work, In Search of Lost Time, a novelistic exploration of the meaning of time and memory. It is jaw-dropping literary artistry on the level of Shakespeare or Dante. Proust's powers of description are unsurpassable. So sensuous are his descriptions, that I felt like I was walking through the Impressionist wing of an art museum, captivated by one painting after another. His description of a church, inside and out, culminating in the steeple, is serene and stunning; a religious experience just to read. Then there is his description of a flower garden. And the moon. Of special interest is his description of a phrase of music. Though entirely fictional, one feels one knows the piece. No one before or since has described music and the experience of music in memory like Proust. The narrator's description of being kissed goodnight by his mother was so moving and so deeply nostalgic. And then there was the description of his bedroom which seemed to change form as he opened and shut his eyes at night. And then of course throughout the whole is the description, or rather the portrayal, of the inner workings of the author/narrator's mind. I was totally captivated by this audiobook and look forward to the next volumes as they are released.. The narration was superb. Thanks to audible for making this available.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Irony of American History

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Reinhold Niebuhr
    • Narrated By Robert Blumenfeld
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (14)

    Forged during the tumultuous but triumphant postwar years when America came of age as a world power, The Irony of American History is more relevant now than ever before. Cited by politicians as diverse as Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Niebuhr's masterpiece on the incongruity between personal ideals and political reality is both an indictment of American moral complacency and a warning against the arrogance of virtue.

    Neil Babcox says: "Superlative Book"
    "Superlative Book"
    Overall

    Brilliant. Brilliant. And again I say brilliant. Scintillating insight. Gem-like clarity. Relentless unmasking of illusions. This book is said to be highly admired by President Obama; nevertheless, it is politically uncategorizable. In spite of its brevity, impossible to absorb in one listening/reading. Well read. New introduction.

    Audible is to be applauded for making this book available. How about more by Niebuhr?

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful

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