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Ray

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Long Valley, NJ, United States | Member Since 2008

ratings
62
REVIEWS
16
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
3
HELPFUL VOTES
45

  • Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By David M. Kennedy
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    Overall
    (195)
    Performance
    (122)
    Story
    (119)

    Between 1929 and 1945, two great travails were visited upon the American people: the Great Depression and World War II. This Pulitzer Prize–winning history tells the story of how Americans endured, and eventually prevailed, in the face of those unprecedented calamities. The Depression was both a disaster and an opportunity. As David Kennedy vividly demonstrates, the economic crisis of the 1930s was far more than a simple reaction to the alleged excesses of the 1920s.

    Ray says: "Good summary of a pivotal time."
    "Good summary of a pivotal time."
    Overall

    While not very deep, this book presents a balanced overview of the Roosevelt presidency and provides a good jumping off point for those (like myself) who are interested in exploring selected topics from this era in greater detail. "Freedom from Fear" provides a balanced view of FDR, citing his accomplishments, but not sugar coating the mistakes and personal flaws of this most controversial figure.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • LeMay

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Warren Kozak
    • Narrated By Grainger Hines
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    The firebombing of Tokyo. Strategic Air Command. John F. Kennedy. Dr. Strangelove. George Wallace. All of these have one man in common - General Curtis LeMay, who remains as enigmatic and controversial as he was in life. Until now. Warren Kozak traces the trajectory of America’s most infamous general, from his troubled background and heroic service in Europe to his firebombing of Tokyo, guardianship of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the Cold War, frustrated career in government, and short-lived political run.

    Amazon Customer says: "Okay hagiography; terrible narration"
    "A fascinating study of an incredible leader"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Curtis LeMay is one of the more misunderstood heroes of WW II. His legacy was tarnished by his decision to run with George Wallace in 1968. Yet he was one of the most effective military leaders of his era who simply has not gotten the credit he is due. I don’t recall hearing much about LeMay in the various histories of that era, but this book highlights the significant contribution this man made to the Allied war effort in both Europe and Japan. His success in whatever he undertook is quite remarkable.

    LeMay was known to be a demanding leader. He came into difficult situations and figured out how to fix them. Perhaps the most controversial was his decision to use incendiary bombs on Japan. LeMay thought he could destroy all industrial cities in Japan by October, a few weeks ahead of the planned invasion in November. The atomic bomb brought an end to that. Later he organized the Berlin Airlift and set up the Strategic Air Command. Worth a read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Karen Kingston
    • Narrated By Karen Kingston
    Overall
    (95)
    Performance
    (82)
    Story
    (81)

    Clutter clearing can radically transform your life. Drawing on her wealth of experience as a feng shui, space clearing and clutter clearing consultant, Karen Kingston explains how clutter is stuck energy with far-reaching physical, mental, emotional and spiritual effects. This audio book will motivate you to clutter clear as never before, once you realise just how much your junk has been holding you back! This audio book edition contains all the latest updates and revisions, including two essential new chapters.

    John Steele says: "I love this book!"
    "What was I thinking?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a book about evil spirits and bad karma in your home and the clutter therein. Nuf said, I couldn't finish this one.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By David Talbot
    • Narrated By Mel Foster
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (15)

    For decades, books about John or Robert Kennedy have woven either a shimmering tale of Camelot gallantry or a tawdry story of runaway ambition and reckless personal behavior. But the real story of the Kennedys in the 1960s has long been submerged - until now. In Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, David Talbot sheds a dramatic new light on the tumultuous inner life of the Kennedy presidency and its stunning aftermath. Talbot has written a gripping political history.

    Ray says: "Just another conspiracy book"
    "Just another conspiracy book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have listened to a number of books on the Kennedy/Johnson era – and I must say this is by far the worse. From the cover, I thought this book would explore the tight family relationship between these two brothers. Instead what I got was a just another poorly written Kennedy conspiracy book.

    The author’s thesis is simple – Kennedy and Castro were going to become friends and ensure world peace after the 1964 election, but there were many important people who did not want this to happen. The Cuban exiles, the CIA, the FBI, bigots, maybe even right wing nuts who did not believe in JFK. There is little in the way of hard facts to support this vague thesis, just innuendo and heresy. The author notes that RFK and all of the “Kennedy’s men” accepted the findings of the Warren Commission, but he speculates that this was because RFK was planning to take action after he became president.

    This is a back-to-Camelot book, for those who are looking for that. The author asserts that JFK was totally without blame for the Bay of Pigs, handled the Cuban Missile Crisis without flaw, and would have accomplished much more during his 1000 days were it not for the special interests in and out of government. I think most of us know better.

    There are better books about this era. Berlin 1961, Brilliant Disaster and Passage of Power to name a few.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nixon, Vol. 2: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962 - 1972

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Stephen E. Ambrose
    • Narrated By Michael Wells
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    No one can dispute the fact that Richard M. Nixon’s life story is immensely engaging and that his place in the scheme of modern history will always be a landmark. Stephen E. Ambrose offers a balanced, unflinching portrait of one of our most complex and puzzling chief executives at the apogee of his career, rebounding from defeat to an innovative, high-risk presidency, already sowing the seeds of his ruin.

    Ray says: "Fair account of a flawed man"
    "Fair account of a flawed man"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed listening to this account of the critical part of Nixon’s career as a politician. Ambrose writes as an historian should – presenting the facts with a neutral perspective. Something rare among those who write about this man. What happened during this period is provably familiar to most, but this account provides a fair narrative of things from Nixon’s perspective.

    Perhaps the most disturbing thing about Nixon (like most Presidents of this era) is the way they run the country with a small cadre of unelected advisers. Nixon and Johnson directed the Vietnam War, yet had no military experience. Nixon wanted to appoint John Connally to be secretary of defense even though he had no relevant experience. In the end it was all about politics..

    That Nixon was a flawed man is a given. It’s all here. But what is also here is an example of how a politician needs to make premises he can’t keep and say things he doesn’t believe in – in order to get elected. Very relevant at the moment…

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815–1830

    • UNABRIDGED (48 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Paul Johnson
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    Overall
    (15)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (15)

    This is an extraordinary chronicle of the fifteen years, 1815–1830, that laid the foundations of modern society. It is a history of people, ideas, politics, manners, morals, economics, art, science and technology, diplomacy, business and commerce, literature, and revolution.

    Doug Smith says: "Surprised By a Negative Review"
    "Much Ado about Nothing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had a hard time finishing this book - it just seemed to go on forever. Perhaps I was misled by the portrait of Andrew Jackson on the cover. There was very little about the US, instead there were extensive discussions of all the oddities of the British aristocracy and artistic community. Way too much information that I had no interest in, though I am sure there are some who would think otherwise.

    The recording seemed a bit off, not pleasant to listen to.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1116)
    Performance
    (914)
    Story
    (904)

    We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.

    Teddy says: "Excellent Book All Over"
    "Just when you think you knew it all..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed this listen, but must say it was a bit long. It covers a wide range of topics, so some parts are not as interesting to everyone as others. In my case, discussions on how the various parts of the brain function were of cursory interest.

    This book changed my thinking about Mankind in some ways. Maybe we are actually getting "better" after all. However, as the author points out, most of the genocide in the 20th century can be attributed to three men - Mao, Stalin and Hitler.

    There are some very entertaining intervals among the heaps of statistics dished out. I almost had to pull my car over when I was listening to a lengthy citation of proper manners in Medieval Europe. We've obviously come a long way since then.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Robert Leckie
    • Narrated By Kevin Foley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    From the Japanese soldiers' carefully calculated - and ultimately foiled - attempt to build a series of impregnable island forts on the ground to the tireless efforts of the Americans who struggled against a tenacious adversary and the temperature and terrain of the island itself, Robert Leckie captures the loneliness, the agony, and the heat of 24-hour-a-day fighting on Guadalcanal.

    David-Kaimana says: "Listening to this book puts you in the action..."
    "Puts you in the action"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This telling of the Guadalcanal story captures the desperation and valor of this critical campaign. The story flows like a novel, and unlike many history books, it really draws you into the story.

    What made this story significant to me is the family connection. My father served with the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal and I recall him speaking of being abandoned on that island. He was seriously injured during Japanese shelling and evacuated to New Zealand. This book puts all this into context for me.

    I previously listened to “Neptune’s Inferno“ which covers the naval battles of the Guadalcanal campaign. That book is an excellent follow up reading as there is little overlap, but they are closely linked nonetheless.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A History of Air Warfare

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By John Andreas Olsen
    • Narrated By Steve Van Doren
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (19)

    This one-volume anthology provides a comprehensive analysis of the role that air power has played in military conflicts over the past century. Comprising 16 essays penned by a global cadre of leading military experts, A History of Air Warfare chronologically examines the utility of air power from World War I to the second Lebanon war, campaign by campaign.

    Ray says: "Interesting Story, poorly presented"
    "Interesting Story, poorly presented"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It was a bit of a struggle to get to the end of this book - but I did it. Only for the hard core military history buff. Very technical, lots of jargon.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Eisenhower: The White House Years

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Jim Newton
    • Narrated By John H. Mayer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (16)

    If you think of our 34th president as little more than the babysitter-in-chief during the prosperous fifties, think again. Dwight Eisenhower was bequeathed an atomic bomb and was the first American president not to use it. He ground down Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism until both became, as he said, "McCarthywasm".

    Caleb says: "Historically in-depth with a nice flow"
    "A simpler time?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Straightforward account of Eisenhower’s White House years. Pleasant narration. Not nearly as deep (or as long) as the Truman biography, this book provides some insight into Eisenhower’s beliefs and management style. He was a leader, not a politician. He seems to have taken an active role in international diplomacy, an area in which he had much experience. But in the case of domestic issues he relied on the advice of his staff. He was not an active promoter of civil rights, but when his Supreme Court made it the law of the land, Eisenhower provided the leadership to get it done.

    We tend to think of the 50s as a simple, harmonious time – but it was anything but that. If there is nostalgia for this time, it is for the type of leader who seeks office not for self-serving purposes, but because he believes he can help shape a better nation. We could use that today.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Ron Suskind
    • Narrated By James Lurie
    Overall
    (266)
    Performance
    (213)
    Story
    (211)

    The hidden history of Wall Street and the White House comes down to a single American concept: confidence. Both centers of power, New York and Washington, learned how to manufacture it - until August 2007, when that confidence began to crumble. Ron Suskind here tells the story of what happened next, as Wall Street struggled to save itself while a man with little experience and soaring rhetoric emerged from obscurity to usher in "a new era of responsibility".

    shari says: "another uneducated narrator"
    "Insightful, but..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While a little tedious at times, this account of Obama’s first 1000 days (give or take) provides insight into why this great orator, who offered a vision of a better America, is an ineffectual President. The extent to which Obama was both supported and advised by the same Wall Street players that got rich while helping to create the financial meltdown is both insightful and disturbing.

    I was disappointed to not hear about the influence organized labor played with this President, but this is a story about Obama and Wall Street. The author has some good connections into the inner workings of the administration, but does not seem to have a grasp of how the failures of financial regulation caused the very problems they were supposed to prevent.

    The story line gets lost a bit when the author tries to explain the financial meltdown in terms of evil bankers versus virtuous regulators. He meanders into long stories describing how bankers gave into their craving for wealth and power, setting in motion a series of events that almost destroyed the economy.

    The story is much more complex than that, as is implied when Lawrence Summers warns Geithner to “never admit you were wrong”. As we all know, Summers was part of the administration that relaxed financial regulation a decade earlier.

    I recently listened to bios on FDR, Truman, JFK. I will go out on a limb to say Obama shares FDR’s lack of understanding of what to do, but lacked his ability to give people confidence in what he was doing. Obama and Truman both came from political machines, but Truman did a great job addressing the challenges in the post-war period, while Obama worries about getting re-elected. After listening to “1961” and “Brilliant Disaster”, I conclude Obama and JFK are comparable in many ways – marvelous at campaigning, dismal at leading.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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