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Benedict

San Francisco, US, Canada | Member Since 2003

400
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 42 reviews
  • 178 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 1 purchased in 2014
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8

  • The Prince

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Niccolo Machiavelli
    • Narrated By Nelson Runger
    Overall
    (194)
    Performance
    (36)
    Story
    (38)

    The Prince was the first great work of modern political and historical analysis, but it suffered from a tragic flaw: Machiavelli chose as his "hero" Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI, who, unknown to the author, employed murder as one of his tools of statecraft. The Prince has been studied by Hitler, Stalin, Richelieu, Bismarck, and Frederick the Great, among others.

    Patrick says: "Machiavelli, telling it like it is"
    "Well, it is famous for being the first ..."
    Overall

    I liked this book well enough. I really, really liked Herodotus as a historian, though. Marco Polo did not have much insight into people, though he must have gotten along with them pretty well. I think this book is famous because it was the first accounting of large areas of the world, even for the well-traveled Venitians. Marco Polo found a lot of the people he visited to be either infidels or idolators. Apparently to me, anyway, he thought the infidels to be more advanced than the idolators.

    0 of 24 people found this review helpful
  • La's Orchestra Saves the World: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Emily Gray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (112)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (41)

    In 1939, Lavender flees London to escape the German bombs and her shattered marriage. Settling in a small town, she pulls together a makeshift orchestra to help cope with the times.

    glamazon says: "McCall Smith Does It Again!"
    "A trip back into time"
    Overall

    I really liked Alexander McCall Smith's new book. Being English myself helps, but the best part is the author's *amazing* ability to move me back into time during which England was being attacked by Germany in WWII.

    The story is itself charming, as usual for Mr. Smith, but what got me was I could see and almost feel how it must have been to be "on the ground" at that time and realize Hitler and the Germans might actually conquer England. To not know how it would all turn out in the end.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By John Heilemann, Mark Halperin
    • Narrated By Dennis Boutsikaris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1884)
    Performance
    (744)
    Story
    (745)

    Based on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Game Change is a reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, this is the occasion-ally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of the campaign of a lifetime.

    Joe says: "Best Audiobook of 2010!"
    "A discussion of character..."
    Overall

    I liked this book because it filled a gap in history texts I have read over the years: What were these people thinking? What were the problems they were facing, actually?

    I hope this kind of book continues and begins a trend towards "present-time history" based on what was said and thought rather than on what some clever historian thinks or guesses what was said during historical moments. In other words, we have official photographers for presidents and other leaders, but we do not have a record of "what they thought and said."

    Game Change is secretly a paen to Obama. Nowhere does it explain how he got to his philosophical base that he demonstrates today. It does show his intelligence and his connections to the most powerful financial people in the world before the election.

    McCain is an angry man who is incapable of grasping difficult issues.

    Obama is rather more gracious and more intelligent than I had imagined.

    Sarah Palin, can "get it" and she can "lose it" all in the same day. Personally, I hope she will one day "get it" and keep it that way. She will be unstoppable then.

    I now understand Hillary Clinton much better, and her relationship with husband Bill. I have much more respect for Hillary than before, although I am afraid for what she really believes, as I am afraid I have found out too late what Obama "really believes." Bill is such an amazing piece of work: he can help his wife win campaigns and to win, and then trip her up a day later. At the same time, on some level I really respect Bill, only now after all these years.

    Bill and a very wealthy playboy friend of his traveled around the world in a private Boeing 757 called "Air F**k One." While Hillary was campaigning. She deserves some credit for living with that yet still being effective.

    14 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Tao Te Ching

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs)
    • By Lao Tsu (translated by Gia-fu Feng, Jane English)
    • Narrated By Dr. Jacob Needleman
    Overall
    (220)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (83)

    The Tao Te Ching, a 6th century B.C. Chinese masterpiece, is one of the world's most revered sources of spiritual wisdom. This authoritative translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English captures the essence of Lao Tsu's language, bringing the Tao Te Ching's powerful message to a whole new generation of students.

    Benedict says: "Very good, indeed"
    "Very good, indeed"
    Overall

    My review of this book is as much a review of the book itself as well as the Audible presentation.

    Many years ago a Taoist here in San Francisco said, "Buy this book. It will change your life!"

    I did so, and it did. I think if you buy the book, and listen to this book, your view of life will indeed change, and for the better.

    Some of the Tao "dicta" require analysis over a long period of time but I was amazed at how much the Tao applies to the modern way of American government. If we had followed its easy to understand advice, we would have saved literally a trillion dollars. This is a lot to get from one short little book.

    This book is for the most intelligent and highly trained among us as well as gives counsel to those not quite there, yet.

    The Tao gives advice that can be followed at the highest level of governance, and the advantage is that anyone at this level will appreciate the advice yet never ever have to admit to being a "Taoist."

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Unbearable Lightness of Scones

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Alexander McCall Smith
    • Narrated By Robert Ian MacKenzie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (265)
    Performance
    (139)
    Story
    (133)

    Precocious six-year-old Bertie joins the scouts to escape his mother, Matthew learns to handle the challenges of marriage, and Domenica deals with loneliness. Even four-legged Cyril gets in on the action, finding himself a bit of canine romance.

    Benedict says: "Touching bit of love"
    "Touching bit of love"
    Overall

    I really like Alexander McCall Smith's writing and his sentiments about the important little bits of life.

    I can imagine some readers new to the series might wonder why he gets such good ratings. For me, I like the touching characters, their ethical concerns about how to behave and the author's very realistic view of what we really think day to day.

    The warmest character has been ending each book in this series with a poem about love that is very real, and I like that very much.

    I find myself setting aside my duties in life to listen to any book I buy authored by Smith.

    The narration is exquisite.

    26 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • Gone with the Wind

    • UNABRIDGED (49 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Margaret Mitchell
    • Narrated By Linda Stephens
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2973)
    Performance
    (1945)
    Story
    (1976)

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, Margaret Mitchell's great novel of the South is one of the most popular books ever written. Within six months of its publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind had sold a million copies. To date, it has been translated into 25 languages, and more than 28 million copies have been sold. Here are the characters that have become symbols of passion and desire....

    dallas says: "not to miss audible experience"
    "Spectacular"
    Overall

    I was reluctant to listen to this book because I thought it would be just a boring re-do of the great movie.

    However, I think this book is spectacular. I have a personal rating system like Jacob's ladder. This is a five star book above the ordinary five stars. The narration is as good as the book and is what carried me along for several days straight, to the extent I neglected important personal duties...

    Besides being a great love story with admirable characters, I learned more history in this book than I thought possible for a single volume. The author captured life in the South during, before and after the Civil War.

    Gone With the Wind has been compared to War and Peace. I have listened to them both, and I say War and Peace was a duty to be fulfilled, and that Gone With the Wind an exciting pleasure and a true education, if you want it.

    48 of 50 people found this review helpful
  • The Help

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Kathryn Stockett
    • Narrated By Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (26711)
    Performance
    (13346)
    Story
    (13390)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: The most celebrated performance in all of Audible’s history, The Help has nearly 2,000 5-star reviews from your fellow listeners. We hear the print book’s not bad, either. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another.

    Jan says: "What a great surprise!"
    "Spectacular"
    Overall

    I only got this audio book because there were so many reviews.

    I now think it is a fabulous book that is read spectacularly well.

    It is about life in the South during the 1960s. The thing is, sometimes fiction can tell more about "the South" than an armful of history books can ever tell.

    With this book you get the feeling of what it was like.

    With the reading of this book it communicates the book right to the heart.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • An Echo in the Bone: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Diana Gabaldon
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5273)
    Performance
    (3473)
    Story
    (3480)

    Jamie Fraser knows from his time-traveling wife Claire that, no matter how unlikely it seems, America will win the Revolutionary War. But that truth offers little solace, since Jamie realizes he might find himself pointing a weapon directly at his own son - a young officer in the British army. And Jamie isn't the only one with a tormented soul - for Claire may know who wins the conflict, but she certainly doesn't know whether or not her beloved Jamie survives.

    Charles says: "Read all of Gabaldon's stuff before this one"
    "So wonderful!"
    Overall

    I really like this new addition to the Outlander series. I find I am making time to listen to it by putting off "more important" daily tasks.

    I really like the narration by Davina Porter. I think a book of this length has to have a very engaging and very competent reader, and Davina pulls this off superbly.

    Beyond all this, I marvel that Ms. Gabaldon can keep on creating this wonderful series.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Small House At Allington

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Anthony Trollope
    • Narrated By Timothy West
    Overall
    (227)
    Performance
    (131)
    Story
    (129)

    Lily is the niece of Squire Dale, a morose and rather unimaginative old bachelor who lives at the 'Great House' at Allington. His sister-in-law lives at the adjacent 'Small House', with her two daughters Lily and Belle, and the action centres on the relations between the two houses and on the romantic entanglements of the two girls.

    Joseph R says: "Lilly Dale, At Times, An Infuriating Heroine"
    "One of the great novels and great readers"
    Overall

    My goodness, what exquisite writing!

    Anthony Trollope is a new discovery for me. His sense of humor and emotional tone are striking and wonderful.

    Trollope has an amazing ability to dip a "spoon" into the bowl of life, pull out what comes and remark precisely on what he has found. He at one point is so sensitive about the troubles of Love, and on another occasion is very severe about his characters' character (if I may say).

    He does not present us with the usual endings for novels so you have to get to the end of the book and cannot even guess how it will end.

    The reader Timothy West is also a very great discovery for me. I read along with him on Gutenberg.org and realized I could never have gotten the characters' "voice" without Timothy West's great artistry. He brings out the emotional element of Trollope's writing masterfully.

    Further to Trollope, I am amazed how he draws out life's contradictions in matters of Love. In this character, money does not matter. In the other character, money brings love. I wonder if Trollope was the inventor of every cliche we have ever heard regarding "Love." Money does not bring happiness, we want to believe. On another moment, we see how money breeds love.

    Yet we are rewarded with the results of our own integrity towards others, Trollope seems to say.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Churchill, Hitler, and 'The Unnecessary War'

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Patrick J. Buchanan
    • Narrated By Don Leslie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    In this monumental and provocative history, Patrick Buchanan makes the case that, if not for the blunders of British statesmen - Winston Churchill first among them - the horrors of two world wars and the Holocaust might have been avoided and the British Empire might never have collapsed into ruins.

    Benedict says: "A classic of history books"
    "A classic of history books"
    Overall

    This book took quite some courage for me to listen to, because I am an admirer of Winston Churchill. And I simply was not looking forward to a tirade on Churchill, or tolerating another typical doggone liberal revisionist "history." I was born in Britain a long, long time ago, I should explain, so I have a deep prejudice in Winston's favor.

    Mr. Buchanan has written a kind of meta-analysis of World Wars I and II that should be a milestone history of the World Wars of the 20th century, where 50,000,000 people died. By meta-analysis, I mean he summarizes histories by, yes, Winston Churchill, Barbara Tuchman, AJP Taylor, George Kenon, and quotes Churchill's contemporaries so they do not seem quite the dolts that Churchill and his biographers characterize them as.

    In fact, if I were a history major again, I would never accept a professor who had not read this book and who claimed it was "nothing." Because this book shows that the history books on these wars were written upside down.

    I cannot begin to summarize this book (it has 1300 citations, by the way). But Churchill's part in these wars (understanding WW I got us WWII) began with a secret agreement to bring England to war in defense of France (so secret in fact that only Edward Grey knew of it on England's side). Winston usurped his own government's prerogative! (Sorry for the excitement.) To simplify, thus World War.

    This book is an eye opener. I recommend it. You might be shocked when you listen to/read this book. Read some of the reviews on Amazon.com.

    36 of 46 people found this review helpful
  • The Awakening

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Kate Chopin
    • Narrated By Shelly Frasier
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (19)
    Story
    (20)

    Edna Pontellier is married, twenty-eight, and at the cross road of her life. She is passionate and artistic, but has no one who understands her deep yearnings. She jumps at the chance to spend a summer away from her husband and the heat of New Orleans at a small costal retreat.

    Lucy says: "Amazing Story with So-So Narration"
    "A book for men And women awakening...."
    Overall

    I am personally undergoing "an awakening" in other aspects of life besides dealing with the opposite sex. This book is interesting for both sexes enduring a predicament of choices life presents that may have unpleasant consequences, and possibly impossible to make.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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