I'm sorry to say that this is a book that thoughtful people would be well advised to discreetly pass over. If Rohr were not already a popular author, I doubt it would have been published. The style of the reader is entirely inappropriate for the contents of the book. My specific complaints with the whole selection are really too numerous to list.
Hawaii has always been a mystery to me, a Midwest native. The rest of Manifest Destiny seems as reasonable as spilled milk spreading over the surface of a table. But islands in the Pacific? Well, now I know a great deal more about Hawaiian history than I do about, say, Oregon history.
Sarah Vowell has the kind of voice that you either find a pleasure or you don't, I suppose. Fortunately, I do. I often don't like when authors read their own works because writing and reading aloud are not the same skills, but Vowell definitely knows how to do both. She writes with a sly sense of humor and has the timing to make it work in an audiobook. There were moments I laughed aloud.
She does an excellent job of bringing the history to life and linking it to the present with her own time spent on the island. What a great gig, huh? Write a book about Hawaiian history. Spend a couple of years there researching. I wish I'd thought of it.
So, why do I give the story only 3 stars? Well, I think much like the history of Hawaii itself, it goes out with a fizzle more than a bang. There's not much even an author of Vowell's caliber can do with the material. Those hooeys just end up taking power from the natives until there isn't much for the Polynesian natives to do but eventually go along with it, much like native Americans. The sexy story is when the natives fight back, not when they've given up, by choice or by force. It's like that in Hawaii, too. A handful of people in the present protesting that they aren't Americans is nothing compared to someone killing Captain Cook on his way back to the sailing ship.
I would hope those 3 stars wouldn't discourage anyone from choosing this book. It is beautifully written and you'll come away with a richer awareness of the history of Hawaii.
You do know all that stuff you learned about American history in school was simplified, right? And, in a certain sense, it was propaganda: a narrative intended, in this case, to give young people the feeling that they are heirs to a righteous cause, whether we were opponents of tyranny, barbaric natives, evil slave-owners, socialists, or you-name-it. We were always on the right side of history and history can be understood as an epic struggle between we good people and our evil enemies.
Furthermore, even as adults, we tend to look back on events of the past with our own understanding of what followed or the way things are now and assume that we are in a position to understand. (How many times in a given month do we hear two groups invoking the Founding Fathers, for example, drawing wildly different conclusions about what that means? Or, hear that appeasement is a terrible idea and as Chamberlain demonstrated with the Nazis, only gives the enemy time to amass strength for an inevitable conflagration?)
We don't necessarily bring any new knowledge when we draw these conclusions, but when they seem to match our beliefs about the world, we assume they must be accurate. Those mistaken conclusions (and assumptions) become difficult to let go of, even when we are presented with new opinions of working historians who find new, compelling information that contradicts us. This lecture series is for adults who are ready to let go of the storybook history in exchange for a more complex, nuanced understanding of history.
I loved this lecture series. I looked forward to the next time I could sit down and listen to one of them. Each one was full of the context I needed to understand why what I had always believed about American history may not actually be what historians, with the fullness of time, have come to believe about it. I also found the Professor's presentation enthusiastic and easy to follow. Excellent lecture series all around.
If you enjoy 20th century history, this is a good book to pick up. Much of what we think we know about the end of WWI (and thus later 20th century history) is not always completely accurate. Prof. MacMillan breaks it all down in an engaging and clear way. This is probably one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to. Really enjoyed it. And, I feel like I'm coming away with a much better understanding of what was to happen in later history, right up to the present day.
This book is not the kind of thing you want to get distracted from while listening. It's rather technical at certain points. Even if you listen perfectly, you may have the sense from time to time that you must have missed something.
I realized while listening that I've read a lot recently about moral psychology, rationality, evolution/epigenetics and neuroscience, so there was a lot of material I had read or heard before. If you've been keeping up with Jonathan Haidt, Stephen Pinker, etc, you'll already be familiar with a good bit of what's here. However, if you are interested in one of these subjects and haven't read up much on them lately, I think you'd enjoy the book.
The author's tone of voice is ... well, hilarious. It's like a man reading with a perpetual smirk while waiting for his next martini to be stirred, not shaken, because he knows, thankyouverymuch, that you don't shake martinis, for the love of all that's holy. (I've done my best to give you a sense of his voice in the text I've written -- a nearly impossible feat, but if you have a listen, you might see what I mean.) I'd choose to listen to this reader again, but I have a feeling his tone is not for everyone.
There's a lot of technical stuff. You may or may not remember as much as you'd like once it's over, but it's a good overview of where we are with understanding consciousness in the early 21st century. Also, it's not a terribly long book, and the illustrations are often amusing, so it's worth taking a chance on, IMHO.
Do you ever find yourself wanting to join a conversation about philosophy and finding that you just can't remember what Nietzsche or Kant postulated anymore? This book'll fix that.
As with all audiobooks but especially with material like this, a drawback is that sometimes you might find yourself wishing you could re-read a particular line or sit with it a while before moving on..
The only other shortcoming of the book for contemporary readers is that it was written nearly a hundred years ago, so it ends with Bergson, Willam James, Dewey, and Santayana. There are no feminists or postmodernists discussed.
It's not an especially difficult text to follow. You don't need a college degree or experience with philosophy to enjoy this one. It's beautifully written and read very pleasingly.
I really enjoyed this audio book a lot more than I'd expected. I couldn't really get through the book's description, but it keep appearing in my recommendations and people were saying it was good. Boy, were they right! I'm glad I took their suggestion.
I think all you need to know is that the book opens with a young American actress arriving in a small fishing village in Italy in the early 1960s but be prepared to be taken far away from that core story as you move toward finding out what finally happened.
There's much to like about this tale, full of completely believable but unforeseeable twists and turns, as well as well-drawn, complex characters.
Hager traces the development of nitrogen as an industrial product first from the mines of Chile and Peru in the early 19th century through all the way through the Third Reich and tells the tales of the people involved all the way. The book is lively and worth hearing/reading as a way of improving one's general knowledge of history and the world we live in.
I'm not sure about the subtitle of the book. I think the story deals with many characters over the course of centuries. Although the story comes to a natural conclusion with the demise of the Third Reich, the Saltpeter Wars and WWI are probably more important to the whole book. Alas, maybe it's just that anything claiming to be about Hitler's rise to power is guaranteed to sell more copies.
The reader makes a surprising number of mistakes with people's names (e.g. is it Le, La or Les Rossignole?) and place names (e.g. Auschwitz, not Aus-witch), not to mention with some ordinary words (e.g. "soldering.") He does a good job of reading generally. I liked listening to him. But mispronouncing things that are easy to look up is unfortunate.
There's nothing "literary" about this novel, just excellent storytelling. And the narrator does an amazing number of voices exceedingly well. I had a great time listening to this one. I'm kind of sorry it's over.
I'll let others who know the genre tell you about how it squares up against its competitors. I really know nothing about the world of skaters/hackers. It didn't make a difference though; the story was very easy to follow.
I would not hesitate to listen to another book by Neal Stephenson or to anything narrated by Jonathan Davis.
No, probably not, unless they told me they enjoyed one of her articles.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
I felt like Moran was trying to hard to be funny. I often thought that if I were reading the pieces, they would be funnier. I admire humor writers, but they aren't always as funny off the page.
Ach. Not really. I chuckled a few times, but it was not as good as I'd expected.
Humor is extremely personal. The person who recommended this to me was over the moon about it.
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