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Lawrence

Scotts Valley, CA, United States | Member Since 2001

ratings
20
REVIEWS
8
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
53

  • Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Roger Penrose
    • Narrated By Bruce Mann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (68)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (47)

    From the best-selling author of The Emperor’s New Mind and The Road to Reality, a groundbreaking book that provides new views on three of cosmology’s most profound questions: What, if anything, came before the Big Bang? What is the source of order in our universe? What is its ultimate future?

    Darkcoffee says: "Difficult, Awe-inducing and Fascinating"
    "Tedious, dull, difficult"
    Overall

    Somehow Roger Penrose has a reputation as an explainer of cutting-edge scientific ideas to the lay public. This is the first of his books that I have read, and I am disappointed.

    A major technical problem with the audiobook is the constant references to a PDF of diagrams which makes the discussion impossible to follow while driving or working in the garden.

    But beyond that, the author steps way back and teaches us the physics of Entropy in tedious detail. I suspect it is a cover for the fact that he, and no one else, really understands time at all! Perhaps they think that if they can make us fall asleep listening to the finer points of entropy, we will believe that our great scientists must really understand this. But I believe that if they understood time, they would be able to explain it.

    When he talks about the universe and cosmology, he takes something of great beauty and deep mystery, and somehow makes it boring and dry. It is like the entomologist who would rather keep a collection of dead insects under glass than watch the creatures living in the wild. All the beauty and wonder are sucked out of it.

    It is as if the subject of cosmology has had all the mystical lifeblood drained out of it, and its dead remains were pressed into the pages of this book. Buried deep in this pile of ashes is the suggestion that the universe goes through great cycles of expansion and contraction. Doesn't that sound marvelous? So why does it sound so boring in the pages of this book?

    4 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Richard Carrier
    • Narrated By Richard Carrier
    Overall
    (27)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (25)

    This in-depth discussion of New Testament scholarship and the challenges of history as a whole proposes Bayes's Theorem, which deals with probabilities under conditions of uncertainty, as a solution to the problem of establishing reliable historical criteria. The author demonstrates that valid historical methods - not only in the study of Christian origins but in any historical study - can be described by, and reduced to, the logic of Bayes's Theorem. Conversely, he argues that any method that cannot be reduced to this theorem is invalid and should be abandoned.

    Elizabeth M. True says: "Worth the Challenge"
    "Pedantic. Drains all the life out of history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author doesn't seem to like his subject much, and he quarrels with all of his colleagues. By applying statistical likelihoods to the Jesus story, he pretty much concluded that it was all extremely unlikely. Which is not surprising in the least.
    A good historian would try to explain how Christianity managed to overtake the Roman Empire, when it's central documents were so spurious. Perhaps there were other forces at play? We'll never find out with Bayes's Theorem. It takes a historian, not a mathematician, to shed light on (and maybe explain) the rise of Christianity.

    The books seems to be an atheist's attempt at arguing Christianity into non-existence. What I learned instead was that the early Christians must not have cared very much about the historical accuracy of their scriptures, because they could have easily gotten to the bottom of the historical Jesus in the first few centuries, while the Empire was still intact and memories were fresh. Early Christians didn't seem to care about that. There must have been something else going on, and I doubt very much that the spread of the religion was due to the charisma or marketing talents of the Palestinian peasants who were Jesus' followers & apostles.

    I did learn a few new things, like Judas Iscariot is probably not a name, but rather a type of person-- a Sicarii Jew, or ancient Jewish assassin, such as the Maccabees. And in that sense, Jesus could be a stand-in for the Temple that was destroyed by the Romans, who were incited by Jewish insurgents. In other words, the insurgents betrayed the temple when they incited the Romans to destroy it.

    Maybe if you are an Atheist and you want to be reassured about your wisdom, you will like this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Katherine Swynford

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Alison Weir
    • Narrated By Judith Boyd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (77)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (40)

    New York Times best-selling author Alison Weir is renowned around the world for her chronicles of Britain's royal families. Here she turns her focus to the enigmatic former mistress of John of Gaunt, Katherine Swynford, who would go on to marry her lover and become Queen of England. Through Weir's captivating prose, listeners are treated to a rousing profile of a dynamic historical figure.

    Alexis says: "Too much detail, not enough person"
    "boooring"
    Overall

    I can read some pretty stultifying history-- I eat Gibbon for breakfast-- but this book takes the gold medal. Do I really need to know where John of Gaunt was between August and September of 1369; given that we have NO IDEA what he did there? Or what the (spurious) modern-day value of every single payment made to Chaucer's wife is? The book amounts to a raw distillation of every fact and detail that can be found in the archives on Katherine, her husband, in-laws and children. The fact is, Katherine left behind very little biographical data, but instead of telling us about the interesting events of her more well-documented contemporaries and descendants, we are subjected to every iota of extant information about this obscure personage. I'm sure the source material would make much more exciting reading!

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • The Eye of the World: Book One of The Wheel of Time

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Robert Jordan
    • Narrated By Kate Reading, Michael Kramer
    Overall
    (8834)
    Performance
    (4916)
    Story
    (4957)

    When their village is attacked by trollocs, monsters thought to be only legends, three young men, Rand, Matt, and Perrin, flee in the company of the Lady Moiraine, a sinister visitor of unsuspected powers. Thus begins an epic adventure set in a world of wonders and horror, where what was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

    Greg says: "This Series Rocks"
    "Bigger waste of time than of money"
    Overall

    Did I read the same book as these other reviewers? The narrator was so bad that it would be hard to imagine a book good enough that he couldn't ruin it. This was nowhere near good enough to do that. The characters are annoying, each time they nearly get killed I started cheering for the bad guys. The plot started developing on the stale old lines-- kid born to destiny/discovers secret powers-- and then I just gave up. It ended up being more of a waste of time than of money.

    4 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • The Franciscan Conspiracy

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By John Sack
    • Narrated By Geoffrey Blaisdell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    The story begins 30 years after Francis' death, when Father Leo, Francis's closest friend, is dying. Bound to a vow of silence, Leo sends a cryptic message to Conrad, his own favorite student, connecting him with an unlikely companion, 16-year-old Sister Amata. The two begin to search for the truth about St. Francis, a truth that will shake the faith of the masses to the core and bring into question the foundation of the Franciscan Order.

    connie says: "definitely not Da Vinci code"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall

    The first and worst problem is the narration. If there was any appeal to this story, it was smothered by the dull delivery by the narrator.
    The author's attempt at creating suspense failed-- I never really cared whether the characters suffered or got killed, and took no joy in their successes.
    Worst of all, the "mystery" that they are bound to discover ends up being totally prosaic and even the characters don't seem to care a whole lot by the time they figure it out.
    I think a spirited narration can sometimes save a mediocre book, but this one had no such salvation.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Steven Weinberg
    • Narrated By Raymond Todd
    Overall
    (141)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (27)

    Now updated with a major new afterword that incorporates the latest cosmological research, this classic of contemporary science writing by a Nobel prize-winning physicist explains to general readers what happened when the Universe began, and how we know.

    Gregory says: "Strong and Compelling Story"
    "Sleeping Aid"
    Overall

    If you need help falling asleep, then maybe this book is a good choice. The narrator apparently felt the same because he pretty much rushes through the book and clearly doesn't know what he's reading.

    The material is extremely dated-- huge advances have been made since the author wrote this in 1975, and he did not bother to re-write it in the 1990s. Instead he just tagged on a catch-up chapter at the end. And who will still be awake by the end of this audiobook?

    Try Fabric of the Cosmos for something better on this subject matter.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • A History of Music in Western Civilization

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By various
    • Narrated By various
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    From anonymous 10th-century troubadours to world-renowned 20th-century composers, this comprehensive commentary explores the roots of the most influential music genres of our time. Essential listening for students and lovers of great music, A History of Music in Western Civilization features music performed by world-renowned orchestras and enlightening discussions by 15 prominent music authorities, including Christopher Hogwood, Dr. Wilfrid Mellers, and others.

    Lawrence says: "Not History!"
    "Not History!"
    Overall

    If they had called it "Music Appreciation" and not claimed to cover "Western Civilization", I would not have bought it, but it would have been honest. Listen to the section on Renaiscance music and then the jump to Baroque-- you hear an incredible change in tonality, instrumentation, and style, yet no one bothers to explain how this happened. If you cannot explain transitions as blatant as that, you are not writing history.

    Furthermore, until reaching the 20th century, apparently the only music that existed was the classical form. There is no mention of folk music except when a composer condescends to use a folk theme in his "serious" music. I don't think interviews with conductors are the best way to convey history...

    21 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • The Adventures of Gerard

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Narrated By John Bolen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    Napoleon's presumptuous but unsung hero, the Brigadier Gerard, faces certain death at every turn while outwitting the enemies of France! Gerard careens across Europe, swept along in the ebb and flow of the Napoleonic wars.

    Lawrence says: "Good Stories, bad Narration"
    "Good Stories, bad Narration"
    Overall

    The narrator does such a bad job of fake French, Italian and Spanish accents that I could not get past it and enjoy the stories. He really made a mess out of a good book. Avoid this narrator!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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