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Jonathan F.


  • Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Manning Marable
    • Narrated By G. Valmont Thomas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Of the great figure in 20th-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age 39. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man.

    connie says: "invites further reading on Malcolm X"
    "An important personality and a well-told story"

    This is an interesting (even fascinating) biography of a significant personality of the 1950’s and 60’s. I found that the story was well told by Manning Marable; he provided a good level of detail and the fact that he included some contrary versions of the same story added to his credibility as a researcher and his stature as a writer. I read favorable reviews of “Malcolm X” by reputable publications like The New York Times and The Economist. Neither publication cast any doubt on the quality or depth of Marable’s research – after all, he spent 10 years on this project. I read the reviews below that questioned the book’s accuracy – if you're considering this audiobook, I would take those comments with ‘a grain of salt’.

    I also liked G. Valmont Thomas’ reading of the book; his tone and pacing reminded me of Samuel L. Jackson. I particularly enjoyed the reader’s addition of various accents that helped make a relatively dry subject “come alive.” Not being an expert of regional accents, I cannot comment of their accuracy, but the various accents certainly helped when I (the listener) could not see the quote marks on the page when an individual was talking or being quoted.

    The previous biography I read was the much-heralded “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. The story of Jobs was very interesting, but the quality of the narration by Dylan Baker was not all that good in my opinion. Mr. Baker would have benefitted from the use of a few accents to help convey a better story.

    This audiobook comes highly recommended – both for the story and for the narration. I would recommend “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” to anyone with an open mind who’s willing to learn about an important person and significant events in the USA from 50-60 years ago.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Scott Anderson
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabiadefinitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present.

    carolyn says: "A Middle East Built on Lies"
    "Great story that explains origins of M/E troubles"
    What made the experience of listening to Lawrence in Arabia the most enjoyable?

    This is well-told story of 4 characters' lives and exploits in the Middle East that helps explain the origins of the border and territorial disputes that live on a century later.

    What does Malcolm Hillgartner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Hillgartner has a "professorial" tone that suited the book's material. He added a few accents in order to indicate the words of different individuals, and that made the book feel more "alive" than if I had read the words in the book.

    Any additional comments?

    This book offered an insight into the life of T.E. Lawrence who is not the same character displayed on the big screen by Peter O'Toole in "Lawrence of Arabia". The backroom dealings of British and French diplomats created artificial and unnatural national borders after the collapse and defeat of the Ottoman Empire.
    I learnt that there was no drive for Palestinian Arab nationhood in the 1910's. What we know as "Palestinian Nationalism" today is a movement that mainly developed after the UN Partition Plan and the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
    At the time of World War (the era covered by this book), Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, led the struggle (against British and French interests) for an all-emcompasing unified Arab Nation that includes modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Sinai Peninsula, Iraq, and the entire Arabian peninsula.
    The painful after-effects of the events covered by this book live on until the present day.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Michael B. Oren
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In Israel and the West, it is called the Six Day War. In the Arab world, it is known as the June War or, simply, as "the Setback". Never has a conflict so short, unforeseen, and largely unwanted by both sides so transformed the world. The Yom Kippur War, the war in Lebanon, the Camp David accords, the controversy over Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the intifada, and the rise of Palestinian terror are all part of the outcome of those six days.

    Patrick says: "Great overview of Middle East troubles"
    "Story of War at Turning Point in Israel's History."
    If you could sum up Six Days of War in three words, what would they be?

    Engrossing. Informative. Thorough.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Moshe Dayan comes across as a key figure for initiating and overseeing the War. As a man of action, Dayan had acquired sufficient battlefield experience to be a wise and charismatic leader in a time of crisis. As was said of Winston Churchill in 1940, "Cometh the hour, cometh the man."

    Any additional comments?

    Michael Oren covers a lot of interesting ground leading up to the June 1967. At this vantage point 45 years later it easy for us to forget the that Nasserism, the Cold War, President Johnson and the Vietnam War impacted the key people involved, and the decisions that they made (or failed to make). This book covers the extensive statesmanship of Abba Eban and the military preparation/build-up that preceded the War.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Thomas Hager
    • Narrated By Adam Verner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    At the dawn of the 20th century, humanity was facing global disaster. Mass starvation, long predicted for the fast-growing population, was about to become a reality. A call went out to the worlds scientists to find a solution. This is the story of the two enormously gifted, fatally flawed men who found it: the brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and the reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, controlled world markets, and saved millions of lives.

    sarah says: "Riveting"
    "Genius & Demon: A Man's Invention feeds the World"
    Where does The Alchemy of Air rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Probably one of the best as far as the storyline goes. Really very interesting

    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Alchemy of Air?

    I thought it was fascinating to read how Haber developed poison gas for use by the Germans in World War I. Haber then developed a system for deploying/distributing the gas, and supervised the release of the gas at the front lines. Haber's wife committed suicide, using his service revolver, soon after the chemical warfare was initiated.

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    There are parts of the book that sound like an "Introduction to Chemistry" textbook. An understanding of the chemistry involved helped tell the story. Although engrossing, this was not a book that I personally would have enjoyed in "one sitting".

    Any additional comments?

    This was an all-round fascinating biography of a man whose discoveries/inventions have had both positive and negative impact of the lives of millions (if not billions) of people. Highly Recommended!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Deborah Feldman
    • Narrated By Rachel Botchan

    In this captivating memoir, Deborah Feldman takes listeners on an eye-opening journey into Orthodox Jewish culture. Raised in the suffocating world of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim, Feldman was told what to read and who she was allowed to talk to. Married off at 17, she suffered from anxiety and was shamed by an inability to please her older husband. But after giving birth to a son at age 19, Feldman realized it was time to tear up her roots and make her own path in life.

    Ella says: "A one-sided glimpse into a secretive world"
    "Fascinating look behind the 'dark' Satmar curtain"

    This is an interesting, personal memoir of one woman's early life in the rigid and old-fashioned Satmar sect of the Jewish community. It is not a documentary and not an expose of this ultra-Orthodox group of people. For those who don't know, the Satmar tend to live lives that are largely cut off from neighboring communities. The communities are mostly self-sufficient, somewhat like the Amish, although the Satmar do use clothes, books, food and products made in modern manufacturing facilities.
    From watching an interview with the writer, it becomes apparent that she has too much 'spark' and individuality to be satisfied and/or successful in such a rigid, narrow, male-dominated (some would say sexist) environment. Part of Feldman's personality has probably developed since she left the Satmar community with her young son a few years ago. I don't think people "choose" to belong to a Satmar comunity; one is born into that tradition.
    I can recommend this book to people who know about Judaism (or are Jewish) and want to read a personal story of life both inside and outside the Satmar Jewish community. The narrator is just "OK" in my opinion, but the storyline keeps one listening all the way through to the end.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Power of One

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Bryce Courtenay
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower

    Born in a South Africa divided by racism and hatred, this one small boy will come to lead all the tribes of Africa. Through enduring friendships with Hymie and Gideon, Peekay gains the strength he needs to win out. And in a final conflict with his childhood enemy, the Judge, Peekay will fight to the death for justice.

    Bob says: "Compelling story lifted higher by the narration"
    "Powerful story about growing up under Apartheid"
    Where does The Power of One rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Probably the best audiobook I've listened to out of about 20 books so far.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Power of One?

    Peekay's first boxing match was described with lots of color, action, and emotion.

    What does Humphrey Bower bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Bower uses a few accents that helped bring the characters to life - one felt the characters' personalities come through via his reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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