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Member Since 2007

  • 3 reviews
  • 5 ratings
  • 174 titles in library
  • 3 purchased in 2014

  • Freakonomics: Revised Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
    • Narrated By Stephen J. Dubner

    Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life, from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing, and whose conclusions turn the conventional wisdom on its head. Thus the new field of study contained in this audiobook: Freakonomics. Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives: how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.

    David says: "Good, but be careful"
    "Good, but be careful"

    As a PhD statistician, I love a good data-driven story. Increasing, people in politics, business, and academia are looking for decisions that are based on what the data say. Leavitt's research is engaging and accessible and I, for the most part, enjoyed this book.

    HOWEVER, without exception, Leavitt presents his findings as gospel and continually fails to acknowledge the limitations of his methods and his data. He mentions his use of linear regression to obtain his results, but fails to mention the limitations of this method (e.g., results are probabilistic, results are based on model assumptions which may be entirely incorrect). His results obtained from this method sometimes also appear to tell too convenient of a story and seem to be cherry-picked. Moreover, all his results are based on single data sets and may not be as universal as he would like. Finally, he often takes one result (e.g., reading to your kids does not affect their standardized test scores) and makes huge, sweeping generalizations that lead you to believe that reading to your kids doesn't have any affect on any outcome of interest and that you're a bad (or naive) parent for even trying.

    These are dangerous practices, though I can see why he does what he does - making all sort of caveats would water-down his findings and make his book less sensational. Nevertheless, he runs the risk of misleading his readers. Judging from the comments posted here so far from people who assume these conclusions are certain, I would say he's succeeded in this endeavor.

    139 of 142 people found this review helpful
  • Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By James L. Swanson
    • Narrated By Richard Thomas

    The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history, the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild 12-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

    Elizabeth says: "Fascinating!"

    If you're into over-the-top sensationalism in your history books, then this one might be for you. I was hoping for something a little more reasoned and thoughtful, but I'm guessing that in the text, every sentence ends with an exclamation mark - because that's how the story is read. Either the narration or the writing - or both - is just so hyperbolic, it's hard to bear. Anyway, if you like A&E style documentaries instead of PBS style documentaries, then you might enjoy this one.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Atlas Shrugged

    • UNABRIDGED (52 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Ayn Rand
    • Narrated By Christopher Hurt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world - and did. Is he a destroyer or a liberator? Why does he fight his hardest battle not against his enemies, but against the woman he loves? Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand's magnum opus and launched an ideology and a movement. With the publication of this work in 1957, Rand gained an instant following and became a phenomenon. Atlas Shrugged emerged as a premier moral apologia for capitalism, a defense that had an electrifying effect on millions of readers (and now listeners) who had never heard capitalism defended in other than technical terms.

    Robert says: "Over before you know it"
    "Rather tiresome"

    Several years ago I read Rand's Fountainhead and while I didn't completely agree with the underlying philosophy, I found that it was something to think about. Embarking on a cross-country trip, I decided to listen to Atlas Shrugged and was quite disappointed. The theme of the book is quite clear after the first chapter. The entire plot can be guessed after the second - at one point I accidently skipped ahead and missed about 2 hrs worth of content and I didn't even notice. Moreover, the characters are all one dimensional (good guys = angular faces, ice blue eyes, hard working capitalists; bad guys = soft squishy skin, lazy socialists). In short, even though I agree with some of Rand's tenents, I found myself skipping ahead and wishing the book would end.

    15 of 25 people found this review helpful

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