I have enjoyed previous books by David Maraniss, but in this one, he tells us way too much about the lives of people who were layer upon layer distant from President Obama. He presents a lot of raw material for future historians, but as a read, I found it occasionally tedious. In between stories about the politcal and marital relationships of Barack Obama senior, however, we do learn a lot about the early life of the President, and I found the descriptions of Stanley Ann Dunham very interesting, since she had a much greater impact on her son than his father did. The window into the developmental life of the young Obama and his journey toward finding his own identity make this book well worth listening to, all the same. If for no other reason than to utterly debunk the insane claims of fear mongerers about the President, this book is an important addition to history.
This book is hard to "put down," with lots of inside information and insights into how the Obama administration functions and how the President thinks, as well as an intelligent recap of facts a well-informed reader probably already knows, but it's an interesting refresher to see it organized in one place.
Marcus Samuelsson's memoir is a fascinating look into the behind-the-scenes strategies, politics and practices of kitchens in fine dining restaurants, as well as an honest, endearing (without being sentimental), and revealing memoir about the career and life of this famous multicultural chef.
If you're interested in Colonial America, the Founding Fathers, etc., you may learn something from this book about Jefferson's tastes in food and where he sourced his farms. Unfortunately, the author spends more time giving historical context, much of which can be found in any other book about Jefferson, and less about food, much less crème brulee, and not enough information about James Hemings. Still, it is a fun read with an excellent narrator.
Since the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, has a television show, it's fun to hear this book with the real Marlboro Man in mind. If you've ever found the love of your life, this book will remind you of what it was like. If you just love a fun chick lit book, this is definitely one. I can't imagine anyone else reading it.
Former Vice President Al Gore has done an important public service by consolidating many of the major issues and trends facing this country and the planet into one utterly depressing, but necessary, fact-based book. Even if you are very well-informed and know something about each of the issues in this book, you will probably learn something you didn't know. I enjoyed his putting issues in historical context and demonstrating, not only his technical knowledge, but also his philosophical perspective. Not so much a call to action, it is a call to sanity.
Chris Hayes, editor at large of The Nation, and host of his own show on MSNBC, identifies some serious issues, and makes a sound case for them, without offering serious solutions, though giving a problem a name is the beginning of a discussion about possible solutions. His primary point is that our nation has come to be based on meritocracy rather than inherited aristocracy, i.e., being able to rise competitively from whatever class we are born into to elite status by being identified as exceptionally intelligent and having access to elite education at exclusive schools or being so successful in business as to accumulate exceptional wealth, but those considered elite do not always act competently or in the best interests of society. Being smart or a good businessperson is not necessarily accompanied by good character, good citizenship, or good judgment.
Further, the privilege of elite status has not come with accountability for performance commensurate with that status, and therefore extreme failures by the elites are not corrected and are in fact perpetuated, compounded, or even rewarded. Elites depend upon other elite "experts" for guidance about major issues, and their life experience becomes so far removed from that of those affected by their decisions that they make decisions they might not make if they or their loved ones had to experience the consequences themselves. His excellent examples range from the White House to the world of sports. As for a solution, he points to the Occupy movement. This is unsatisfactory [imho], since the Occupy movement lacked leadership sufficient to press its causes politically, but his point is really that a revolutionary way of viewing and exercising power and merit in our society is needed, short of revolution in the streets.
Hayes narrates his own book, and even though his voice is not sonorous, it is easy to listen to, and his emphasis adds to the meaning of his points. In general a good "read."
Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman's book makes a clear and accessible case for the lay reader about why governmental economic stimulus is a rational and necessary approach to shortening the financial crisis we are in and explains why austerity measures may seem sensible to some people, but are the worst thing we could do in hard times. Rob Shapiro's narration was appropriate and easy to listen to. Just right for the content.
Jim Lehrer is one of the most important news anchors of my lifetime and hearing his anecdotes about the Presidential debates he was involved with was a window into the backstage story. This book is also partly about his philosophy of being a moderator, and about some of his experiences moderating discussions other than Presidential debates.Listening to this book is definitely the best way to go, since he includes audio clips of actual debates and interviews with participants that would just not be as rich if you read them on the page.
This is a light and easy listen. Enjoyable, though the research is thin and the depth is not great. Still, if you like Jim Lehrer and you're interested in political inside baseball, this is fun.
Not only is he a good reader - of course - but he is also merciless about his own shortcomings, which was humble and charming.
This was a moving window into the mind of Joan Didion after having experienced two serious life crises, and anyone who has experienced crises piling upon one another is likely to see themselves - raw, vulnerable, and sometimes irrational - in her experience, and that was worthwhile. It is also, an interesting glimpse of the world of the American intelligensia. It is a good story that held my attention.
This could be a pretty good movie starring Meryl Streep as Didion.
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