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Ventura, CA, United States

  • 5 reviews
  • 16 ratings
  • 238 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014

  • I Don't Believe in Atheists

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Chris Hedges
    • Narrated By Chris Hedges
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    There are two radical and dangerous sides to the debate on faith and religion in America: Christian fundamentalists, who see religious faith as their exclusive prerogative, and New Atheists, who brand all religious belief as irrational. Too often, the religious majority - those committed to tolerance and compassion as well as their faith - are caught in the middle.

    Ulrike Nunn says: "Not terrible, a little scrambled ,angry reader."
    "An author who knows little but thinks he knows all"

    Books providing a criticism of religion can be quite enlightening, but this unfortunately isn't one of them. The author despises -- yes, that's the word -- the dogmatists of atheism and religion, even while condeming them for despising people with whom they disagree. And who are these religious/atheist fanatics? It seems they are people who believe the world can be a better place if we put our backs to the task. The author considers these people dangerous. Once he has pegged them, there is no journalistic scorn they should be spared. As a former newspaper reporter and editor, I recognize the style: the carefully selected anecdote, the contemptuous adjective, the dismissive summation. The monumental irony is that the author dispenses this vitriol against people whose unforgiveable fault is: being judgmental. How he manages to write this book without recognizing that irony is a mystery more shrouded than any religious cult.
    I suppose there are dangerous atheists, although I don't know any. My atheist friends are generally educated and decent people, trying to make sense of this crazy world. I suppose there are dangerous believers, although I don't know any of them either. My Christian friends, mostly Catholics, mostly what the author would call (with the perfuntory camouflage journalists apply to certain prejudices they know their audiences generally share) "devout Catholics." But they, too, are fine and good people. I even know a few Fundamentalist Christians, and whatever their political agendas, I can only say this: if some unthinkable cataclysm comes hurtling upon the world, I'd be relieved to find them among the survivors. Anyhow, I know there are self-inflated journalists who have chafed under the barely perceptible limits that pass for professional ethics in their business, and who finally free themselves to write pedantic books about their uninformed and uninformable opinions. If you're looking for that book, look no further.

    22 of 33 people found this review helpful
  • Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Dumb Ox

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By G.K. Chesterton
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson

    Careless about dress and demeanor and other worldly fripperies, St. Thomas was a man who enjoyed banquets, conviviality, jokes and pranks. His inner certitude aboutreligious truth permitted him to accept the world and its freedom and it endowed him with a childlike innocence. In what many consider to be his best work, G.K. Chesterton portrays St. Thomas in a light that few have imagined.

    GLENN says: "Delivers what he promises"
    "Delivers what he promises"

    Some reviewers have been disappointed by this book, perhaps because they wanted a summary of Aquinas' philosophical writings, or a scholarly overview of his place in the broader historical context. I think they might have skipped over Chesterton's introductory note, which speaks to these expectations: "This book makes no pretense to be anything but a popular sketch of a great historical character who ought to be more popular. Its aim will be achieved if it leads those who have hardly even heard of St. Thomas Aquinas to read about him in better books." Readers who have studied Aquinas in any sort of disciplined way, either through formal coursework or independent study, perhaps will not learn anything new here -- thought they might. Readers who know little about Aquinas, or who think they do because of something they heard about the dance of angels on pinheads, will find this book useful and illuminating. A reader who is familiar with St. Thomas, and with Chesterton, and who can read them both with relish (though in my case, with nothing like the same degree of understanding), will thoroughly enjoy this book. Chesterton's sketch of Thomas is personal -- that is, personal to Chesterton. But anyone familiar with Chesterton knows he never wrote an impersonal book in his life. He was a journalist, not a scholar, and all journalism is personal. Anyhow, what distinguishes this book is that Chesterton is not so much in awe of Thomas that he is afraid to be intimate. So he wrote a book that is intimate, not systematic. And it's a very good book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • What's Bred in the Bone

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Robertson Davies
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson

    Francis Cornish was always good at keeping secrets. From the well-hidden family secret of his childhood to his mysterious encounters with a small-town embalmer, an expert art restorer, a Bavarian countess, and various masters of espionage, the events in Francis' life were not always what they seemed. This wonderfully ingenious portrait of an art expert and collector of international renown is told in stylish, elegant prose and endowed with lavish portions of Davies' wit and wisdom.

    Nancy says: "More Fabulous Robertson Daview"
    "Living with the past"

    This is a novel of man who learns to live with who he is. He has the kind of haunted, rarified, occasionally brutal life that many Davies' characters endure, and enjoy from time to time. It is a tale worth telling.
    Davies has a profound gift for characterization. Frank Cornish is as fully realized as any figure from biography. Davies is always sympathetic with his characters, and this sympathy lets us understand them in depth. Some of them turn out to be scoundrels, but he does not gloat over their downfalls, or rail at their triumphs. They are who they are, and his business is to reveal them.
    Davies' prose as always is as clean and graceful as fine music. The story is darker than his "Rebel Angels" or the comic "Tempest Tost" and lacks the high drama of the Deptford Trilogy, but still a thoroughly rewarding read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Tempest-Tost

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Robertson Davies
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson

    An amateur production of The Tempest provides a colorful backdrop for a hilarious look at unrequited love in one of several Robertson Davies performances available for download.

    GLENN says: "Wonderful display of Davies' style"
    "Wonderful display of Davies' style"

    Almost nothing happens in this book, in terms of action. Yes, there are a few moments when events suddenly accelerate: the unscripted appearance of a horse in the middle of a rehearsal; a drunken and inconclusive fist fight; and of course, what went on behind the scenes on opening night. Between these milestones, you have to make do with very little -- except Davies' extraordinary prose, his gift for biography in blunt but sympathetic tones, and his delightfully dry humor, which he applies to almost everything, including dry humor.
    I found this book slow when I first started it, so I put it down for a few months. On a second listening, I was immediately engaged. Davies doesn't intend to take you on an aventure; he seems to be saying, "I'd like you to meet a few acquaintances of mine." The narrative tends at points to wander from the main story, but even these diversions are worth the time.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Defying Hitler: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Sebastian Haffner
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield

    When the famous German author Sebastian Haffner died at the age of 91 in 1999, a manuscript was discovered among his unpublished papers. The book was begun in 1939, but with the advent of World War II, Haffner had set it aside. His family made the decision to publish it, and the book became a best seller in Germany in 2002. Spanning the period from 1907 to 1933, it offers a unique perspective on how the average educated German grappled with the rise of Hitler.

    Douglas says: "Great Read"
    "A story of moral courage"

    Being interested in the history of World War II, I found the title intriguing, but felt uneasy about starting this book. I expected horrors. I was surprised at how reassuring this book was. The persistence of one person's moral center of gravity during a society's terrible moral collapse is profoundly moving. The chapter on "comradeship" is a brilliant essay on the way even a self-aware person can temporarily lose himself in group loyalty. The description of atrocities is chillingly understated. Haffner shows an astonishing ability to connect social, political, psychological and ethical themes. The prose is musical. I came away with a better understanding of how the world, at least the Western world, has changed since fascism, and with greater confidence in the future.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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