A fascinating road trip from nose to anus. Mary Roach's unique style of fearless, curious inquiry into unknown aspects of everyday life and extreme empathy for persons in esoteric professions holds the listener's interest.
The narrator is very pleasant but a bit slow in pace. By adjusting the playback speed, this is a non-issue. Not as good as the performances on Roach's earlier books Stiff and Bonk.
My only complaint isn't with the work or its audio performance, it's with the audio production. The volume fluctuates greatly, even from word to word, as though the narrator didn't maintain uniform distance from the microphone or poor equipment was used. This could have been easily fixed by running compression, but was not.
Overall, I enjoyed this audiobook. Completed in under a weekend, but I listen at 2x speed. The author/producers attempt to push the bounds of audiobook production, for better and worse at times, with multiple narrators, including the author's parents. A standard, humorous celebrity autobiography, with a little self-help and creative flights of fancy mixed in.
I take issue with the final chapter being performed live. For one, live shows always sound terrible, and this is no exception. Two, performance before an audience has no place in audiobooks, I write this sole criticism in the hope that this does not become common. I buy audiobooks to hear the author or talented narrator perform the work. Amy Poehler does an excellent job in this task, and ought not be burdened by poor recording quality and audience interruption. Sorry, sorry, sorry for this lengthy critique of one small aspect of a book I enjoyed and recommend.
An interesting look at lesser known religions and religious practices in the United States. I did not have a good feeling going in because the very first chapter opens with a misquotation ("Two girls for every boy" is mis-attributed to the Beach Boys, when it is in fact a Jan and Dean lyric). Chapters include Voodoo, Fundamental Mormonism, Satanism, Quakers, Scientology, Amish/Mennonite, and New Age. My main problem is, if you are remotely literate in matters of American history, sociology, and religion, none of the content is terribly enlightening, as one already knows the bulk of it.
I loved Freakonomics, liked Superfreakonomics and have listened to every podcast they have ever put out. So I was excited for their next offering. Sadly, about 80% of this book is recycled from the podcast.
Dubner's narration is excellent as always.
The author's exploration of the various service economy professions is enlightening. The overall thesis of the book is tip more and accept "tip creep." This hardly makes one a tipping guru. The author doesn't address the real tipping quandaries: do you tip on takeout? buffet service? What should one tip a golf caddy? I was expecting a more balanced approach distinguishing proper tipping situations from those where tips are requested without any real work, skill or service being provided.
I bought this today but have not listened yet. The site says it is 28 hours, but its actually 14:41. I am not complaining as 28 hours seemed a bit excessive for a work of this type.
I was excited to listen to this book as someone of left-leaning persuasion in the hope of understanding how the other half lives. While I enjoyed portions of the book, it was ultimately unsatisfying.
There are three components to this book: the author's personal experience being prosecuted for tax evasion, some background on 'tax resister' arguments and the author's personal views regarding government and taxation.
I found the personal experience the most compelling, although I remain skeptical to its honesty. Williams expresses EXTREME paranoia about lawyers, accountants, the IRS, Judges and government. Yet, his trial defense was that he was duped by tax resisters, lawyers, accountants and fraudulent investment schemes. Williams shows his naivety regarding the court system which is particularly evident during discussion of speedy trial rights. Despite my skepticism, I couldn't help wanting to hear what happened next.
The second topic, background on tax resister arguments and schemes, is ultimately unsatisfying. Williams lays out the various arguments of tax resisters and simply urges listeners to ignore them because they have never successful in court. Williams never says WHY the arguments are wrong (which they objectively are) with the possible exception of the pure trust, which is briefly explained. Are we to infer that Williams agrees with the nonsense he used to espouse and simply discourages the use of these techniques because they have been unsuccessful?
The final topic, Williams extreme personal views on taxation and government, is downright cringe worthy. It is difficult to listen to so many lies, half-truths and my-opinion-is-fact statements in such rapid sequence. Perhaps this book is intended for an already agreeable audience but it is shockingly wrong if you have not already drank the kool-aid.
Narration is generally excellent with only a few gross mispronunciations of words. Dialect, timber and cadence are appropriate to the tone of the material and the author's background.
Adam's last book was quite enjoyable, but the best parts were always the biographical portions. Adam's background, stories and successes have always been more enthralling than tired rants about politics.
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