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Darkcoffee

Allen, TX, United States | Member Since 2009

60
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 14 reviews
  • 35 ratings
  • 114 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • The Modern Scholar: The American Legal Experience

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Lawrence Friedman
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    The legal system in America is the basis of freedom as we know it today. The system is based, ultimately, on the common law of England, but it has grown, developed, and changed over the years. American law has been a critical factor in American life since colonial times. It has played a role in shaping society, but society - the structure, culture, economy, and politics of the country - has decisively shaped the law. Through history, the legal system has been intimately involved with every major issue in American life.

    Darkcoffee says: "sound, with portons that are extremely interesting"
    "sound, with portons that are extremely interesting"
    Overall

    Some fascinating material on colonial law, some passionate and interesting observations on the laws regarding slavery and 19th century civil rights (or lack thereof). Starts to dull down in the 20th century material, when Friedman toes an absolutely middle of the road contemporary academic liberal point of view. Although he is attempting to remain neutral, there's not much doubt where he stands on the worth of the the New Deal, for instance, and his insistence that the fall in the crime rate in the late 20th century is "poorly understood," or even unfathomable (while having just discussed (with disapproval) the "rising prison rate"), will sound ludicrous to anyone but perhaps a contemporary academic seeking to keep his colleagues mollified and not ruffle any feathers. All in all, an excellent listen, however, and an interesting lens through which to view American history.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • 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
    (70)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (49)

    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"
    "Difficult, Awe-inducing and Fascinating"
    Overall

    Wow, this is a challenging book. I was tempted to stop listening at various points, but it was usually there that Penrose dropped in a gem of insight or an utterly fascinating speculation on the nature of the universe, and on I went. I finally settled in when I realized that I was listening to a unique book: it is written for the general reader, but it doesn't try to soft pedal any of the complexity of thought that leads to the conclusions. In the end, I loved it.

    What is the book about? Penrose is proposing an admittedly conjectural notion of universal cosmology. He is, in fact, making a new argument for something like the balanced beauty of the old Steady State idea of the universe's orgin and life while using all the new stuff on black holes, the cosmic background radiation and black holes. He's attempting to reconcile the Big Bang with a steady state by arguing that at the extreme end of things -- the heat death of the universe after all the black holes have evaporated and all that remains are mass-less protons, gravitons and such -- the geometry of the universe will match the geometry necessarily in place at the time of the Big Bang. And things could, thus, start all over again or, as Penrose puts it, bounce. We could be somewhere in the midst of an endless cycle of expanding and "bouncing" universes.

    Whether or not you buy Penrose's conclusion, the road there is hard, awe-inducing and fascinating.

    I highly recommending downloading his cool illustration packet, many handdrawn, and referring to them from time to time, as well.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Known and Unknown

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Donald Rumsfeld
    • Narrated By Donald Rumsfeld
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (361)
    Performance
    (193)
    Story
    (195)

    With the same directness that defined his career in public service, Donald Rumsfeld's memoir is filled with previously undisclosed details and insights about the Bush administration, 9/11, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also features Rumsfeld's unique and often surprising observations on eight decades of history.

    Brooks says: "Inside view of five decades in politics"
    "Good Straightforward Account, Better Toward End"
    Overall

    A directly written account of most of the major episodes in Rumsfeld's political and business life. It becomes more interesting and less hagiographic toward the end, which is clearly still simmering in Rumsfeld's mind at the time of writing. Interesting inside takes on the inside politics of the Bush admininstration--or at least it will be interesting for those who are not wearing ideological blinders. Rumsfeld isn't. This should be a test for leftie listeners and for those who defend Bush policies without even thoughtful reservation due to the left's decade of slime and ad hominem attack--are YOU as open-minded as Donald Rumsfeld? I felt challenged by this obviously self-written memoir. Rumsfeld is a good leader of a particular Midwestern cultural stamp and someone whose intelligence and forthrightness ought to be an example to all politicians.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Niall Ferguson
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1741)
    Performance
    (817)
    Story
    (807)

    Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labor. Niall Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress.

    Ethan M. says: "A mostly successful and interesting history"
    "Part one tour de force; part two slower going"
    Overall

    The first chapters (up through Ferguson's elucidating chapter on how insurance works) is a wonderfully clear account of how financial systems evolved and how they work. Unfortunate, Ferguson gets on a few obvious personal hobby-horses in the last half of the book and if you don't agree with his politics (he makes a point of calling American Republicans idiots, which immediately alienates half his audience to no purpose, especially on a subject such as this. One supposes he is attempting to keep his academic Facebook friends list from going down). In any case, there are some excellent insights and generally good writing throughout and the book is definitely a worthwhile listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • My Manchester United Years

    • ABRIDGED (1 hr and 55 mins)
    • By Bobby Charlton
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Bobby Charlton is Manchester United through and through. He was a member of the original "Busby Babes" and has devoted his career to the club, playing in 754 games over 17 years. During that period he won everything the game had to offer, played alongside such greats as Best and Law, suffered devastating defeats, and was involved in one of the greatest football tragedies of all time. Here, for the very first time, he tells the story of those United years.

    Jason says: "Too short"
    "A Fine Reminiscence from an English Football Great"
    Overall

    A touching couple of hours of reminiscence from an English football great. It's a bit twee at times, but overall a great piece of history for anybody interested in the history of soccer or Manchester United, the greatest team of them all.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Yosemite

    • ABRIDGED (1 hr and 30 mins)
    • By John Muir
    • Narrated By Michael Zebulon
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    John Muir, who was born in Scotland and emigrated to America in 1849, was an advocate of U.S. forest conservation and was largely responsible for the establishment of Sequoia and Yosemite national parks in California. Muir has emerged as perhaps the greatest prophet of an era which finds itself suddenly aware of the urgent need to care for our planet.

    Darkcoffee says: "Muir at his descriptive best"
    "Muir at his descriptive best"
    Overall

    John Muir provides a wonderful description of the Yosemite valley and paints a picture between the lines of the delightful and adventurous time he spent living there. The high point of the essay is his description of Yosemite Falls in different seasons. Love his claim to have seen a "moon-bow" hovering in the spume! A great portrait of a place, a time, and a very unusual, perceptive, athletic and fearless writer.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Road to Serfdom

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Friedrich A. Hayek
    • Narrated By Michael Edwards
    Overall
    (210)
    Performance
    (53)
    Story
    (60)

    Originally published in 1944, The Road to Serfdom has profoundly influenced many of the world's great leaders: from Orwell and Churchill in the mid-40s, to Reagan and Thatcher in the 80's. The book offers persuasive warnings against the dangers of central planning, along with what Orwell described as "an eloquent defense of laissez faire capitalism."

    Kelly says: "A little dry perhaps but hardly boring!"
    "Classic of Political and Economic Thought"
    Overall

    A simple thesis: socialism inevitably leads to totalitarianism, whether this is intended or not by those who advocate and enact socialist policies. Totalitarianism crushes the individual and eventually destroys all individual rights. This is the most important book on political philosophy and economics of the twentieth century. Good thing I was listening, because if I were reading and underlining the succinct, telling and amazing lines of this work, I would end up underlining the entire book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Matt Ridley
    • Narrated By L. J. Ganser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (376)
    Performance
    (219)
    Story
    (225)

    Life is getting better at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down all across the globe. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people's lives as never before.

    Darkcoffee says: "Delightful Case for Things Looking Up"
    "Delightful Case for Things Looking Up"
    Overall

    An extended argument that human intelligence and the well-being it allows is created, collected, maintained, distributed and extended by trade. Trade is "ideas having sex." Ridley builds his case with point after point then examines all the usual counterexamples and objections, taking them out one by one. It's a wonderful book. Of course it helped that he was preaching to the choir with me. What's most delightful is Ridley's goodhearted skewering of pessimists -- the technological and environmentalist Jeremiahs in particular -- with the most obvious of weaknesses is their flimsy cases. He's almost embarrassed for them. Ridley is a bit repetitive at times, but maintains a wry humor and lighthearted tone throughout, which makes his writing all the more effective. He's a good writer and he's right about everything.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: The Anglo-Saxon World

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Michael D. C. Drout
    Overall
    (469)
    Performance
    (239)
    Story
    (228)

    Had the Angles and Saxons not purposefully migrated to the isles of the Britons and brought with them their already-well-developed use of language, Angelina Jolie may never have appeared in the movie Beowulf. Professor Michael D.C. Drout is at his best when lecturing on the fascinating history, language, and societal adaptations of the Anglo-Saxons.

    Matthew says: "Amazingly good"
    "Hwaet! dat was gud stuffe!"
    Overall

    Good stuff with much new thinking for those of us who last visited this subject decades ago. Old English studies have really moved ahead in recent years! I also enjoyed Drout's other lecture series on the history of the English language and his excellent lectures on the literature of science fiction and fantasy.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Francis S. Collins
    • Narrated By Greg Itzin
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (58)

    A scientific and medical revolution has crept up on us, based on study after study, from hundreds of laboratories around the world. It is no longer just a theoretical shift: every one of us will be touched by it, and many of us already have been. The meaning of disease, our understanding of the human body, and crucial decisions about what we all need to know and what choices we make about our health are at stake. Welcome to the new world of personalized medicine.

    Ronald E says: "The future of medicine"
    "Call to Action on Your Own DNA"
    Overall

    I was very surprised as how far DNA analysis has come in the past five years. The book is a call to action to do something with your own DNA (which is now fully accessible for a few hundred bucks), and Collins makes an extremely convincing case for doing so. More a compendium of resources and anecdotes than a coherent book (and the fully-read web addresses make for some extremely trying listening), but fascinating new information about what you can do with your DNA to improve your health and consider choices you may or may not have to make in your life.

    3 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Herzog

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Saul Bellow
    • Narrated By Wolfram Kandinsky
    Overall
    (34)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (8)

    An instant classic when it appeared in 1964, Herzog is the story of Moses E. Herzog, a tragically confused intellectual who suffers from the breakup of his second marriage, the general failure of his life, and the specter of growing up Jewish in the middle part of the 20th century. He responds to his personal crisis by writing a series of letters never to be sent, to friends and enemies, colleagues and celebrities, examining his life and times with wry perception and heartfelt revelation.

    rworthen says: "Horrible Narration of a Great Book."
    "Thinking Man's Breakdown and Redemption"
    Overall

    First, I'm not sure what to say about previous reviewers disliking the narrator, Wolfram Kandinsky. I can only assume they didn't give him a chance. I thought he was not just wonderful, but inspired. He doesn't have a Ken Burns narrator voice, true, but this is a novel with large sections that are the main character's thoughts. My goodness, some NPR announcer voice would have been entirely snooze-inducing! So not only did I not mind the reader, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the book because of Kandinsky's reading of it. That said, this is a landmark novel of the 20th century, one of the best books written in the last 100 years. Moses Herzog, thinking man's lover of women and semi-tough guy intellectual, is entirely unique and specific and yet utterly representative of a very smart man, and a very American man, figuring out how to live and find meaning in the modern world. Any thinking person who has found him or herself confused, bemused and even confounded by the modern condition will find much to take identify and take pleasure in via Bellow's marvelous, sometimes pathetic, always whimsically-profound creation, Moses E. Herzog. As a plus, you'll probably find sentences, phrases, conceits and images from the book echoing through your mind and heart for years to come.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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