One sure sign of a great book is that after you put it down you think about it and cannot wait to get back to it. This was my experience of Barbara Demick's "Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea."
It is almost impossible to imagine living in a place where the "Thought Police" described in George Orwell's 1984 abound, where one cannot so much as whisper a phrase of anything less than praise and gratitude for the most repressive regime in the world - but this place exists. The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a place shut off from the rest of the world, with virtually no telephone service, mail or internet to the outside, where it is a serious crime to own a radio or television tuned to anything but government-run programming; a place where the community standards police inspect your home to ensure that you keep a picture of Kim Il Sung on the wall or your home and that it is clean and dust-free. This is a country where private enterprise is forbidden, while people are starving to death. Electricity runs only a few hours per week for most people.
Compiled from interviews from defectors this book reads like a novel, detailing "ordinary" lives that are anything but ordinary. For no matter where on earth a person may live, he or she is still a human being with basic needs and desires. We all need to eat, to learn, to grow, to love.
"Nothing to Envy" is a wonderfully written expose' on North Korea as experienced by it's "ordinary" citizens. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Ordinarily I do not like to hear an author read his/her own books. Almost always they come across as emotionless and wooden, and one cannot help but wonder why in the world wouldn't a professional WRITER delegate the narration to a professional READER? This is not the case with this book. Ruth Ozeki's reading skills rival that of any I have ever heard. She definitely improves on her written words with her spoken words. Actually I cannot imagine anyone doing a better job than she.
It would seem that the Ruth in this book is the alter-ego of the author, who is drawn to some flotsam on the beach where she finds, among other artifacts, a diary protected within some plastic freezer bags. It soon becomes apparent the diary came from Japan, and although unlikely, possibly from the devastating tsunami of 2011. The diary was written by a Japanese teenager, Nao (not a coincidence that the pronunciation is "Now") who was contemplating suicide. Nao speaks to her reader across an ocean of water and time, and Ruth is drawn deeper into Nao's life. A captivating connection is made between the two through the girl's story, in spite of the chasm of time and space.
This is truly an elegant, lovely, poignant and thought-provoking novel and Ruth Ozeki has proven she is a brilliant author AND narrator. Highly recommended.
Having an awareness in Information Security, I found this book to be entertaining. Certainly Kevin Mitnick, the author/protagonist is not by any means a heroic character. While he asserts he never hacked for financial gain in spite of the fact that he possessed huge amounts of credit card and other "personally identifiable information" the fact remains that he stole intellectual property, personal identities, telephone connectivity, etc. He needed to be caught and incarcerated, which in fact did occur. To him hacking was an addiction, an irresistible urge to beat the system, break through locked doors and unlock security measures designed to defeat him and people like him. Whether or not the listeners of this book believe he is rehabilitated or remorseful, the fact remains that he served time in prison and paid his debt to society.
For me, the value of this book is that it illustrates just how dependent we all are on information systems, and how vulnerable we are to the lax security at the gatekeepers of our most personal information. We need to do a lot better, and hopefully Mr. Mitnick is now helping us as opposed to hacking us.
I found the book engaging from a technical standpoint while it demonstrates just how easy it is for some to steal information, sometimes merely for the asking. As Mitnick stated, "like taking candy from a baby."
I have long looked for this title on Audible and was very pleased when it finally arrived. The story is told in the first person and Claire Danes performs it perfectly with the voice, I believe, that the author intended when she wrote this story.
The progression of the Tale is gradual and engaging, requiring the reader/listener to gather up bits of of carefully placed images and information to put together the picture of this repressive nation. Imagine the Taliban in control of the US government and one gets an idea of the society described in this story. It is very interesting to me that Ms Atwood wrote this book in 1985, long before the world became acquainted with the Taliban, as some of the images are eerily reminiscent of some of their tactics witnessed on TV after the 9/11 attacks.
The Handmaid's Tale comes to a conclusion and the book wraps up with a brilliant epilogue, answering many questions in a surprising and unique fashion.
Certainly not a happy story nor action-packed, but nonetheless wonderful and captivating. Claire Danes' performance is flawless.
I found this book to be unremarkable and predictable. The prose was bland, the characters formulaic and the outcome foreseen.
The author sets this novel amid the recent Wall Street financial meltdown, opening the story with the apparent suicide of a major hedge fund manager on the eve of the long Thanksgiving weekend. The ensuing tale takes place over the weekend, filling in back story, painting the picture of the Darling family who are tied to this fund and its principal. Throw in a few crooked lawyers and SEC officials and you have pretty much the material upon which this book is constructed.
This book is not terrible, and I did find myself at times wanting to listen more just to see how it turns out. However there were no surprises. The writing was mediocre and I was unsatisfied with the ending.
Sam Harris left no stone unturned explaining his thesis that
This was an interesting book and of the genre that doesn't normally attract me. However, it passed the simplest true test for me - it made me look forward to listening more and more.
Although narrated in the third person, it is told as if the author is just over the shoulder of Tom Ripley. It is a subtle seduction where the reader/listener, observing this character soon gets the notion that something isn't quite right with this guy. He engages in some bizarre behavior, that at first might seem to be harmless mischief, but hints at some deeper psychosis. Before long, we are given glimpses into Ripley's thought processes, and any doubts about his sanity are erased.
Tom Ripley travels to Europe at the request of the wealthy father of one of his
I downloaded this book because of the good reviews and high customer ratings. I was not disappointed and was actually very impressed with the depth, humility, and intelligence of this memoir. Rob Lowe is so much more than just a pretty face. His writing is solid and articulate. His reading is perfect and I had no idea he was such a good impersonator. He nails every voice from Carey Grant to Robert Wagner, including spot-on mimics of Patrick Swayze, Christopher Walken, Matt Dillon, Bill Clinton, Francis Copolla and more.
This is a book that you do not want to stop listening to, whether or not you are a fan of Rob Lowe.
Rebecca Skloot spent ten years of her life researching and writing this book. At the time she had no way of knowing just what she was getting herself into.
The HeLa cell line is one of the most important and studied subjects in the world of medicine and biology, but practically nothing was known about the person from which these cells were named, Henrietta Lacks. In fact, for years even the name Henrietta Lacks was intentionally obscured by the fictitious names of Helen Lane or Helen Larson.
Skloot was a young student at the time she became interested in the mostly anonymous Henrietta Lacks, who died at the age of 31 from a terribly aggressive form of cervical cancer. Her cells were extracted, without permission or informed consent, becoming for all purposes the first line of "immortal" human cells living outside of the host body. The author decided to attempt to put a human face on the donor of the cells which played a vital part in such scientific advances as in the cure for polio, aids research, genetic discoveries, cancer cures, drug developments, to name just a few. However, learning the true story of the Lacks family two generations after the death of Henrietta turned out to be quite the daunting venture as Skloot tenaciously uncovers layers of family suffering, mistrust, ignorance and exploitation.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a real-life story of family and all that goes along with it, good and bad. It is in-part a tale of mystery that walks into real human drama, tackling many difficult issues of racism, bio-ethics, privacy and profiteering.
This book is perfectly narrated and is one of the best audio books I have encountered in quite some time. Do not miss this one!
What a great book that could have been written only by a person who has lived through the experience. It is full of military jargon and certainly not for everyone. It is a hard-hitting account of the absolutely tragic futility known as Vietnam. The hill known as "Matterhorn" was just a hill occupied by the Marines, abandoned by the moronic command and re-taken at the immeasurable cost of human lives. This book is simply a masterpiece.
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