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  • Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Christopher Ryan, Cacilda Jetha
    • Narrated By Allyson Johnson, Jonathan Davis, Christopher Ryan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Since Darwin's day, we've been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. Mainstream science - as well as religious and cultural institutions - has maintained that men and women evolved in families in which a man's possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman's fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing....

    Mark says: "too much focus on academic in-fighting"
    "Truly underwhelmed"
    Would you try another book from Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha and/or the narrators?


    What could Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    The quality of the writing was just exceptionally poor. Every paragraph was finished with a pseudo-witty tag line ("Way to go boys." "Now we're talking.") that sounded like the authors really wished the book could have been a snappy Cosmo article instead. It made for tedious listening.

    What didn’t you like about the narrators’s performance?

    The authors seemed exceptionally pleased with their own wit.

    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Annoyance. The authors' claim (that lifelong monogamy is NOT genetically encoded in al humans for millions of years) is utterly non-controversial in both science and culture today. Nonetheless, the authors pretend that pretty much everyone believes the opposite. They proceed to restate the opposite case in the most extreme and laughable terms (drawing on sources back to the 19th century for evidence of current thought). Having stated the other side in laughable terms, they never actually bother to prove their own case; they simply mock the other side and then list any evidence available for their own perspective without delving into any of the complexities of teasing out something as subtle as sexuality from the archeological and anthropological record.

    Any additional comments?

    Looking back, I suspect I bought this book because it had sex in the title. Having read it, I now feel a little dirty and ashamed for taking part in such a shallow enterprise.

    13 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Susan Cain
    • Narrated By Kathe Mazur
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

    Teddy says: "Thought provoking and Uplifting.... A++++++++!!!!!"

    It's hard to state how bad this is. The book embraces the grossest stereotypes of the extrovert/introvert divide, hammering home the underlying theme that introverts are smart, sensitive and quiet, and extroverts are loud, stupid and boorish. The science presented is, let’s say, suspect, as all science apparently backs up the premise 100% with no possibility of doubt. The single interesting scientific claim is that introversion/extroversion is largely determined at birth, with introverts being more sensitive to stimuli (and so seeking generally to reduce it) and extroverts being less sensitive to stimuli (and so seeking general to increase it).

    The book also contains numerous anecdotes of introverts succeeding and extroverts failing (you can tell the winners are introverts because they do smart things in the anecdotes) that add nothing to the discussion. Don't worry too much though, extroverts (although the book suggests worrying may be beyond your mental capacity), your Cro-Magnon existence may be somewhat mollified by learning the traits of introverts and attempting to duplicate them to the extent your clumsy brains will allow.

    If the reader has been steeped in the god-awful rah-rah-rah salesman go-get-em literature genre, this book I suppose might provide an antidote by being equally bad in the opposite direction. But that would be its only, very limited value.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Max Blumenthal
    • Narrated By Paul Michael Garcia
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In Goliath, New York Times best-selling author Max Blumenthal takes us on a journey through the badlands and high roads of Israel-Palestine, painting a startling portrait of Israeli society under the siege of increasingly authoritarian politics as the occupation of the Palestinians deepens. Beginning with the national elections carried out during Israel's war on Gaza in 2008/9, which brought into power the country's most right-wing government to date, Blumenthal tells the story of Israel in the wake of the collapse of the Oslo peace process.

    William says: "The truth is rarely pretty"
    "The truth is rarely pretty"

    Goliath is not always an easy book to listen to. It is well written and well read, but the truths can be hard for many people to hear. Max Blumenthal at the lives of Palestinians, those in the Occupied Territories, but more so those Palestinians living inside Israel proper. The stories these Palestinians have almost never been told in the US, but they are important. Close to two million Arabs live inside Israel treated as less than second class citizens. They are denied access to most land, most jobs, many government benefits, and basic rights to organize political institutions and celebrate their culture. Blumenthal also examines the increasing rhetoric and legislation in Israel that many Israelis themselves describe as neo-fascist.

    If you're looking for a feel-good story, this is not it. If you are looking for stories about life in Israel and Palestine that aren't generally told in the US, this book is a must read.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Jack Weatherford
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    After 500 years, the world's huge debt to the wisdom of the Indians of the Americas has finally been explored in all its vivid drama by anthropologist Jack Weatherford. He traces the crucial contributions made by the Indians to our federal system of government, our democratic institutions, modern medicine, agriculture, architecture, and ecology, and in this astonishing, ground-breaking book takes a giant step toward recovering a true American history.

    Lou says: "Eye Opening..."
    What did you like best about Indian Givers? What did you like least?

    Sadly this is not Weatherford's best work. The title itself is plain odd, given that his first chapter focuses on the silver mines of Potosi and Zacatecas. Just to be clear, the sliver was not a "gift" of the Indians, millions of Indians were forced into the mines at gun- and swordpoint and worked to death. That's slavery, not a gift.

    However, the real flaw is that Weatherford simply tries to hard. He seems unable trace the historical connections and cross-currents without drawing extreme and absurd conclusions. New World food products were and are very important around the world, but his claim that without the potato, the two world wars wouldn't have happened is as unprovable as it is absurd. Likewise, his claim that Machu Picchu was an agricultural research station is utterly without foundation, and just highlights his desperation to seize on any claim to support his conclusions.

    It's a pity, because the subject matter is interesting, and there are plenty of connections and influence of Indian/New World products and idea that a general reader may not know. The over-the-top claims, however, damage the whole work. For a more thoughtful treatment of the same topic, readers might try Charles Mann's 1493.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Stephen R. Platt
    • Narrated By Angela Lin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Stephen R. Platt is widely respected for his incisive nonfiction, particularly in regard to his knowledge and understanding of China. With Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, Platt details the absorbing narrative of the Taiping Rebellion, which resulted in the loss of 20 million lives. Occurring in the 1850s, this is the story of a cultural movement characterized by intriguing personages such as influential military strategist Zeng Guofan and brilliant Taiping leader Hong Rengan.

    Adam says: "InTOLerable Reader"
    "Painful to listen"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I could not get more than a couple of chapters into this. The narrator is truly awful, and makes the entire book unlistenable. It's a shame, because the subject is very interesting.\

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Daniel Yergin
    • Narrated By Robert Petkoff
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A master storyteller as well as a leading energy expert, Yergin shows us how energy is an engine of global political and economic change. It is a story that spans the energies on which our civilization has been built and the new energies that are competing to replace them. From the jammed streets of Beijing to the shores of the Caspian Sea, from the conflicts in the Mideast to Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, Yergin takes us into the decisions that are shaping our future.

    Joshua Kim says: "Best nonfiction book of 2011"
    "Good facts, weak story"
    What did you like best about The Quest? What did you like least?

    The author is clearly knowledgeable about the modern oil industry; there were plenty of facts in the book I did not know. However, the book fails in three regards. First, the author displays little understanding of the context of events outside of specific oil-related news. His analysis rarely goes beyond the headline level, and contains no discussion of different perspectives on and reasons for events. Second, the author cherry picks sources to make his point. For instance, his certainty that the Iraq War was based on WMDs rather than, say, oil, is back up by sources ranging from George W. Bush to... Laura Bush. Evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons is provided by "some Arabs say." Finally, the book has no actual story to it. Each chapter deals independently with a facet of or event in modern oil history, with no connection or even transition between them. As such, there is no story to follow.

    Thus, the book is good on its oil facts, but poor on context, explanation and story.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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