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Jeff

Sonoma, Ca, United States | Member Since 2012

ratings
32
REVIEWS
18
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
1
HELPFUL VOTES
54

  • The History of Ancient Egypt

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Bob Brier
    Overall
    (291)
    Performance
    (274)
    Story
    (275)

    Ancient Egyptian civilization is so grand our minds sometimes have difficulty adjusting to it. It lasted 3,000 years, longer than any other on the planet. Its Great Pyramid of Cheops was the tallest building in the world until well into the 19th century and remains the only Ancient Wonder still standing. And it was the most technologically advanced of the ancient civilizations, with the medical knowledge that made Egyptian physicians the most famous in the world.

    Nassir says: "Incomprehensibly complete"
    "Greatly Informative, with a dose of speculation"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The History of Ancient Egypt?

    Professor Brier is obviously obsessed with Egypt and everything related to it. His passion for the subject will rub off on you and makes this course so exciting that you won't want to stop listening. His description of the process of human mumification, which he himself has ACTUALLY PERFORMED is probably the highlight of this course.... even if it does make one a bit queasy.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite Pharoh as related by Professor Brier was probably Ramses the Great, His youthful bravado, monument building and mysterious midlife crisis (which according to Prof Brier may have been related to the exodus) made the story of his life one of the more fascinating sets of lectures included in this course.


    Any additional comments?

    One thing that did worry me slightly during this course was tendency of Professor Brier to expound his own personal theories as opposed to strictly analyzing historical documents or archaeological evidence. However, I'm sure most listeners would agree that his theories are generally both captivating and logically sound.
    One important point that he stresses is that the Egyptians had a tradition of excluding negative events from their official records. Thus, we can't expect to find wall paintings depicting the Israelite exodus or millitary defeats. This doesn't mean that these events didn't happen. Additionally, Thousands of years separate us from the ancient Egyptians and papyrus doesn't keep well. In all, we can't expect to be completely certain about every aspect of ancient Egyptian life but Professor Brier has given us a thoroughly belivable picture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Fate of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Martin Meredith
    • Narrated By Fleet Cooper
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (22)

    Martin Meredith has revised this classic history to incorporate important recent developments, including the Darfur crisis in Sudan, Robert Mugabe’s continued destructive rule in Zimbabwe, controversies over Western aid and exploitation of Africa’s resources, the growing importance and influence of China, and the democratic movement roiling the North African countries of Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan.

    Jeff says: "Africa: Land of Hope and Horror"
    "Africa: Land of Hope and Horror"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    If you could sum up The Fate of Africa in three words, what would they be?

    Hope, dissapointment, horror


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Fate of Africa?

    The Chapters on the events in Rwanda and how they were misconstrued internationally was informative and incredibly disturbing. The level of cooperation with the genocidaires displayed by Rwandan church leaders was disgusting... an affront to religion itself. On top of all that we sent the belligerents billions of dollars in aid money.


    What three words best describe Fleet Cooper’s performance?

    Professional but forced


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Learning about the religious and demographic makeup of Nikgeria and the former Sudan makes it much easier to understand the violent conficlt that has been ravaging those countries for years. In many African states, an ethnically and culturally diverse group of people were forced to coexist within borders drawn by European imperialists. These countries were simply time bombs waiting to go off.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a great work of epic proportions. Meredith divides his history of the continent into periods beginning with the initial euphoria and hope of independence to the power plays of the Cold War era all the way up to the modern day. He focusses mostly on the personality of the leaders_Nkrumah, Haile Selasie, Nasser, Mobutu, Mugabe and Mandela to name just a few are covered extensively in the work. Meredith succeds in making The Fate of Africa into a story about human nature. The lesson that absolute power corrupts absolutely is one that many African states have learned the hard way. Because of this era/personality based approached (rather than a traditional geographical approach to history), I do think it can get confusing with all the jumping around from country to country, but one will eventually start to connect the dots and begin to see how events in one state led to changes in another. This is probably one of those books that would be easier to follow in print. One thing that helped me follow the events of the book was looking up most of these leaders online and connecting faces and maps with the story. The narrator must be commended for his comptency, Meredith's work is packed with words and phrases in various Romance languages as well as a plethora of difficult to pronounce African propper nouns. I would not have been able to even pronounce most of those words. However, I think most listeners will agree with me that many quotes in the books are read with a bit too much sarcasm. The narrator also ocassionaly slips into a lackluster imitation of an African accent when quoting African leaders. Unfortunately the prevalence of quotes in this book made this presentation annoying to listen to initially. However the story itself quickly sucked me in.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Ibn Saud: The Desert Warrior Who Created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Michael Darlow, Barbara Bray
    • Narrated By Brian Bascle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (10)

    Ibn Saud grew to manhood living the harsh traditional life of the desert nomad, a life that had changed little since the days of Abraham. Equipped with immense physical courage, he fought and won, often with weapons and tactics not unlike those employed by the ancient Assyrians, a series of astonishing military victories over a succession of enemies much more powerful than himself. Over the same period, he transformed himself from a minor sheikh into a revered king and elder statesman, courted by world leaders such as Churchill and Roosevelt.

    Amazon Customer says: "Short-est Way to Learn about the Modern Day Saudia"
    "A Captivating Portrait of the Man and His Times"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Ibn Saud?

    This work feels like it was meant for Audible. During the several days it took me to finish listening, I never felt bogged-down by names, dates or factoids. Instead, the author gives us almost lyrical descriptions of the Arabian landscape and paints a living portrait of Ibn Saud as well as figures instrumental in his rise to power. The book is filled with entertaining anecdotes and personal details that help the reader/listener become emotionally invested in the narrative.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I was impressed by how accessible and easy to follow the narrative Was considering the vast scope of the work. Beyond covering the life of Ibn Saud, this work goes into great detail on Bedouin customs, the formation of Islam and the geopolitical climate of the era. Even though they wern't central to the story, I felt like I better understood the importance of figures such as T.E. Lawrence, Churchill and the Hashemite kings in shaping the modern Middle East after finishing this work.


    Which character – as performed by Brian Bascle – was your favorite?

    This wasn't that kind of book, but if I had to pick a favorite person portrayed in the narrative it would be Captain William Shakspear. He seemed worthy of the veneration that figures such as T.E. Lawrence were later to inspire more through publicity than by actual exploits.


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

    Yes, it was that good.


    Any additional comments?


    Certain passages of this work, especially of those related to Ibn Saud's personal religious beliefs and his control (or lack therof) on some of the more fanatical Wahabis in his service seemed a bit biased. But no book is perfect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Salim Yaqub
    Overall
    (22)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (20)

    At the dawn of World War I, the United States was only a rising power. Our reputation was relatively benign among Middle Easterners, who saw no imperial ambitions in our presence and were grateful for the educational and philanthropic services Americans provided. Yet by September 11, 2001, everything had changed. The United States had now become the unquestioned target of those bent on attacking the West for its perceived offenses against Islam. How and why did this transformation come about?

    Saud says: "Detailed, unbiased, clearly explains the mess"
    "Fantastic Overview of events But Slow Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This course is a great introduction to anyone interested in the history of US-Middle East relations which has so shaped the world we live in today. From WWI, the resulting fall of the Ottoman empire, to the Iranian revolution, the Oslo peace failures and 9/11, Professor Salim Yaqub gives us a balanced and insightful narration of events.

    What really caught my interest in this presentation was Professor Yaqub's recounting of the reasons that lead to the Iranian revolution and the extreme feelings against Americans in the region. I was already aware that our strong support for the rather unsavory Shah was a main factor, but some of the finer details suprised me: for example, I had no idea that bad driving by our GIs resulting in ridiculous levels of death by vehicular manslaughter was one of the sparks that set off the proverbial powder keg.

    Really the one qualm that I had with this presentation was the Professor's extremely slow reading speed. Even at 1.5X speed the recording still seems to run at a pace slower than normal conversational speed. He could have gotten so much more information in 12 hours.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • A History of the Arab Peoples

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Albert Hourani
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    Overall
    (192)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (57)

    Despite the turmoil of Arab nationalism and fundamentalism, Middle Eastern wars, and oil crises, the history of the Arab world has been little known and poorly understood in the West. One reason may be that, for more than half a century, there has been no up-to-date single volume work that chronicles the story of Arab civilization - until now.

    Tim says: "Daunting quantity of information!"
    "Great Content, Balance, but Terrible organization"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Its hard not to approach Middle East studies without one bias or another, but after finishing A Concisce History of the Middle East and other titles that appeared to (forgive my bluntness) give an Islamic fundamentalist version of events in the Arab world, I was overjoyed to hear the more balanced treatment of the subject by Mr. Hourani. For example, Mr. Hourani gives us differing versions of stories surrounding the prophet's early angelic visitation, explains why many Hadiths may not be reliable accounts of Muhammads life and explores the probable links between Sufism and Eastern monasticism. All aspects that many Middle East hitories simply ignore. More importantly, the Author's ability to tie individual life stories from all over the Muslim world into the larger historical narrative made the sory so much more personable.

    While the incredible amount of information and fair perspective provided in this historical account put it far above many other availiable titles, the general organization of this book leaves much to be desired. In many chapters, the narrative without warning jumps between historical events, geographical elements, sociological analysis and philosophical discourse. I often found it almost impossible to stay involved as within 10 minutes the narrative switched from Algerian architecture to politics in Tunisia Lybia, and then morroco. This is something that A Concise history of the Middle East does much better.
    Nadia May gives a generally good narration, but it seems she caught a cold sometime during the production.

    In conclusion this is a book that requires several listens and probably a few other supplemental audiobooks on Middle East history to really understand. I think its worth the effort, but I wish the information was better organized.

    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
    Overall
    (806)
    Performance
    (410)
    Story
    (411)

    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"
    "The Definitive Blow by Blow Account of This War"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Six Days of War?

    The extensive use of first-hand accounts from participants on all fronts of the war whether millitary or diplomatic was what made this audiobook great. First hand accounts of the horror experienced by the Egyptian Airforce pilots sprinting through the desert after 3/4 of their planes were suddenly destoryed, the frustration of Israeli politicians as international pressure drove them to the brink of insanity, the tragic attack on the USS LIberty, the brutal hand to hand combat on the Golan Heights . Accounts of all these events were peppered with snippets from testimonies, diaries and memoirs that helped paint a brutal and believable picture of this highly controversial confilict.


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

    Mr Whitefield's reading is crisp and clear, his correct pronunciation of most propper nouns also adds credibility to the story and keeps the listener from getting distracted.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The plight of King Hussein in Jordan was particularly saddening. Hussein was treated as an enemy by virtually everyone involved in the conflict despite all his attempts at reconciliation. The fact that he managed to hold his country together despite the loss of the West bank and most of his army is amazing.


    Any additional comments?

    The sheer number of people, places, and events appearing in this work made it sometimes difficult to follow the story. Although I found the details on the political powerplay that went on before and during the conflict fascinating, I often got frustrated trying to follow the blow by blow accounts of what felt like every skirmish in the war. History and millitary buffs will love this book, Anyone without a real interest in the Israeli-Arab conflict will probably feel that the story moves too slowly and that the author goes into too much detail on minor points.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Taliban: Islam, Oil, and the Great New Game in Central Asia

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Ahmed Rashid
    • Narrated By Wanda McCaddon
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (15)

    In this enormously insightful book, correspondent Ahmed Rashid brings the shadowy world of the Taliban, the world’s most extreme and radical Islamic organization, into sharp focus. He explains the Taliban’s rise to power, its impact on Afghanistan and the region, its role in oil and gas company decisions, and the effects of changing American attitudes toward the Taliban. He also describes the new face of Islamic fundamentalism and explains why Afghanistan has become the world center for international terrorism.

    Jeff says: "If We'd Only Listened!"
    "If We'd Only Listened!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Taliban again? Why?

    Taliban is definetely an audiobook that demands at least two listens. Its easy to get lost with all the places people and events that are discussed in this work. I almost felt like I needed a detailed map of Central Asia in my hand to grasp what the author was trying to convey.


    What about Wanda McCaddon’s performance did you like?

    Is this really Wanda McCaddon? Why does she sound exactly like Nadia May? Anyway, whoever the narrator was she did a fantastic job. She has obviously spent a considerable amount of time learning how to correctly pronounce Arabic and Turkik propper nouns. Her professional and journalistic tone also added much to this presentation. My only complaint was that she tended to brutalize pronunciation of the few Chinese place names mentioned in this book, a very minor flaw.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was published in the year before 9/11, so its already quite dated considering everything that's transpired in the Middle East and Central Asia since then. That being said Mr Rashid's warnings about the coming era of international terrorism as a consequence of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan seem almost prophetic. Looking back, if we hadn't been so concerned with keeping Iran and Russia in check at all costs, and had instead taken good care of the people that WON THE COLD WAR FOR US the Taliban probably wouldn't have been able to come to power and Osama Bin Laden and others like him wouldn't have had a haven to run to.

    It was really intersting to learn about the humble beginnings of the movement as well has how Taliban doctrine differes from other Islamic sects. The detailed history of Central Asia was also informative. It seems cruelly ironic that a group of Afghans born, raised and imbued with radical Islam in Pakistan, would return to conquer and rule their ancestrial homeland, a place they didn't really understand.

    The apendix at the end which included original translations of Taliban decrees was a priceless resource. The original interviews and with players on all sides of the pre-2001 Afghanistan conflict also provided great insight. This is definetely a book with years of field experience behind it and is an excellent tool to understanding area polics even today.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Jack Weatherford
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Jack Weatherford
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3669)
    Performance
    (2264)
    Story
    (2284)

    The Mongol army led by Genghis Khan subjugated more lands and people in 25 years than the Romans did in 400. In nearly every country the Mongols conquered, they brought an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and a blossoming of civilization.

    Peter says: "Brilliant, insightful, intriguing."
    "A great man and his oft forgotten empire"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World again? Why?

    Yes, the research that went into this book and the details provided are astounding. Any history afficianado will want to give this a few listens.


    Any additional comments?

    I found the book informative, entertaining and well-researched. Mr Weatherford makes an interesting point in the connections he draws between Mongol policies and modern practices. I plan to listen to it again in the near future. However, while Mr. Weatherford shows an extensive knowledge of Mongolian history language and culture he shows weaknesess in other areas. For example, he makes the bizarre claim that China was not a unified country before the Yuan dynasty, he bases this statement on the fact that China has many dialects. This is true even today! Many spoken languages existing within the borders of one country does not mean that a county isnt unified. Any student of Chinese history knows that China was a unified country over a millenium before the Mongols came. Mr Weatherford also glosses over the racial caste system and mass genocide of Southern Chinese civilians enacted by the Yuan rulers.The author also apparantly has a bone to pick with Christianity and repeatedly fails to distinguish the attrocities comitted by misguided zealots from a relgion that originally promoted love and equality. At the same time, he fails to condemn evils comitted in the name of Islam or Buddhism. in a similar way . No book is perfect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Art of War

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Niccolo Machiavelli
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    Niccolo Machiavelli's Art of War is one of the world's great classics of military and political theory. Praised by the finest military minds in history and said to have influenced no lesser lights than Frederick the Great and Napoleon, the Art of War is essential for anyone who wants to understand the history and theory of war in the West and for those familiar with The Prince and Discourse on Livy who seek to explore more fully the connection between war and politics in Machiavelli's thought.

    Jeff says: "intriguing ,but not as relevant as The Prince"
    "intriguing ,but not as relevant as The Prince"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    While sometimes reading more like a rennasance manual on field tactics than a phillosophical treatment on the subject, The Art of War fills in the gaps for those who wish to understand more about the world that sparked Machiavelli's ideas in The Prince. Why did he hate mercenaries so much? What were the historical stories (or antecdotes) that were behind his political policies? What was his view as an experienced millitary man about the rising importance of firearms in battle?
    The narrator does a pretty good job on all the characters (the book is arranged as a Socratic dialogue) and also includes two long-winded and somewhat controversial essays before and after the book. I feel listening to the essays helped me understand the book better. However, despite any evidence to support this claim, the writer of these essays tends to go off on sensationlist tangents about how the real enemy Machiavelli was fighting against was Christianity. That and maybe the overly- detailed army camp and formation plans were really my only complaints with the book. In conclusion, read The Prince first, if your still interested, listen to this next.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Confessions of St. Augustine

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Saint Augustine
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (115)
    Performance
    (71)
    Story
    (67)

    Saint Augustine's contributions to Christian theology are second to no other post-apostolic author in the whole sweep of church history. Yet along side his doctrinal treatises, Augustine tells a story of his life devoted to Christ as his only satisfaction. The Confessions is at once the autobiographical account of Augustine's life of Christian faith and at the same time a compelling theology of Christian spirituality for everyone.

    Jim D says: "Impressions on first listening to the book."
    "The Confessions and Philosophy of St. Augustine"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about The Confessions of St. Augustine?

    Augustine's personal accounts of his struggles with desire and his coming to the faith have wonderful lessons for any Christian protestant or catholic.


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    To tell the truth I've attempted several times to sit down and read The Confessions, but always found myself unable to process the language. Mr Vance actually succeeds in making the language sound natural and easy to follow. I found myself easily comprehending and actually enjoying this archaic language. Fantastic performance!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Augustine isn't shy about sharing his heart with the reader, I found myself sympathizing with him, even crying sometimes as his accounts inspired remembrances of my own failures.


    Any additional comments?

    The Confessions, in addition to being an account of Augustine's life and conversion, is also at times a philosophical treatise. Because of this, some parts may be difficult to follow while driving.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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