I loved Marrs's treatment of the subprime mortgage crisis and how it ultimately led to the economic unraveling of 2008. He has a good grasp of the problem as well as what kind of policies helped to create it in the first place.
The most compelling argument that Marrs makes is that globalized markets and the move toward global governance present dire threats to U.S. national sovereignty. Global government would drastically reduce the freedoms and the standard of living that Americans have enjoyed up to now.
Very clear and straightforward narration, with correct pronunciation.
I was a little disappointed that Marrs took up time rehashing that old conspiracy-theory chestnut about flouridated water.
I'm not normally a fan of "conspiracy theory" literature, and generally avoid anything that smacks of the tinfoil hat. But I would say that about 80% of the material in here is not really theorizing or speculation, it's actual description and relies for the most part on open sources found in mainstream publications. I will say that although Marrs seems, for the most part, to position himself on the political Right, there are times when he holds wildly contradictory positions that don't make sense ideologically. You simply can't be a libertarian and a protectionist, for example, at the same time.
For the most part, however, this is a very stimulating and fascinating book, if you can simply take about 20% of it with a grain of salt. I listened to the whole thing over a period of two days. It was actually quite addictive.
Most literate Americans with a historical sense are at best vaguely familiar with "the whole Bay of Pigs thing" but not many have anything but a superficial understanding of what it was about or what its significance is. Jim Rasenberger's history is perfect for the lay reader who has a fairly clear picture of the larger context of the Cold War but who seeks to fill the knowledge gap. The narrative is clear and concise and free of heavy-handed authorial conjectures slanted toward a particular political viewpoint.
I finished listening in two days. Work and family obligations suffered as a result. I was hooked in the first few minutes and it did not let me go for the remaining ten hours. In years to come this book will surely rank with other classic American personal narratives of war, from Joseph Plumb Martin's to Eugene Sledge's. I could do without the narrator's slightly hokey attempt at a Texas drawl, but otherwise the audio production is quite good.
If you've already read and understood Jonah Goldberg's book _Liberal Fascism_, you'll be prepared for the worldview articulated in this book. Goldberg memorably quotes the late comedian George Carlin as saying that if fascism ever comes to America, it will be in the form of "smiley-face" fascism. I can't think of a better example of contemporary "smiley face" fascism than the propositions argued for in this repugnant book.
I have a hard time with the star-rating system for a book like this. It is well-written and generally coherent. Many of the arguments are weak, or operate under a completely different set of assumptions from those of classical liberalism (which undergird the U.S. Constitution), but that is beside the point. Waldron is a competent, if not brilliant, writer of prose. However, I (and, I believe, many others regarded as "First Amendment absolutists" by the authoritarian Right or Left) find Waldron's views to be anathema to our principles. Quite simply, I find his views revolting, as I would find the views of someone who argues for torture of prisoners. This is why I give the "story" (although this is nonfiction, exposition) or content one star. I have no problem with the narration; these are not Dennis Holland's ideas, they are those of the writer.
In a nutshell, Waldron argues that the United States should follow the example of other "civilized" countries (like Germany, England, Sweden, etc.) and enact "hate speech" legislation to criminalize "hate speech." This is actually quite ironic given recent developments in Europe, in which right-wing "xenophobic" parties are rapidly consolidating their hold on power, as part of a reaction to years of domination by left-wing multiculturalist regimes. Europeans are sick of seeing people butchered in the street by immigrants from Pakistan or Somalia and then having their justifiable outrage branded as "Islamophobia." If anything, the hate speech codes in Europe have only led to worsening tensions between native Europeans and immigrant Muslims.
Now, of course, in the U.S.A., terroristic threats (telling someone you are going to kill or hurt him/her) are not protected speech; they are considered assault or aggravated assault in the criminal codes of every state. Reasonable people consider these limits sensible, because we all understand that our liberty ends only when it infringes on someone else's. Saying "I hate your guts" does not pose a threat to someone; saying "I am going to beat you senseless" does.
Waldron would take it a step further, though, to criminalize statements such as:
"All Muslims are terrorists."
"Muslims get out of the USA."
"Islam = 9/11."
Now, we may as reasonable people regard these statements as ridiculous or extreme, but since they do not actively incite violence against a particular person or group of persons, they are protected by the First Amendment. Waldron does not accept this. He believes that if you make a statement such as this you should be subject to fines or jail time.
One of the core tenets of classical liberalism (which today would probably be identified as a mixture of conservatism and libertarianism) is John Stuart Mill's "harm principle," similar to Frederic Bastiat's conception of the proper function of the law. The legitimate function of government, or the law, according to Bastiat and Mill, is to prevent us from doing harm to our neighbor or our neighbor from doing harm to us. Any government or law that goes beyond this and attempts to protect us from ourselves is necessarily tyrannical.
Authoritarian left-liberals like Waldron pay lip service to Mill's harm principle via issues like gay marriage and pot legalization, since they know it is hard to argue against. But on limiting speech, they twist the harm principle by blurring the line between offending and harming. To say that American Muslims, for example, are "harmed" by the presence of Islamophobic (and who gets to determine what is and what isn't Islamophobic?) books, films, graffiti, bumper stickers, or t-shirt slogans is really stretching it, and one rolls his eyes at Waldron's rhetorical gymnastics undertaken in order to equate offending someone or making him/her uncomfortable with physically harming them.
Waldron is also a very shallow thinker who cares little for exploring the ramifications of what he proposes. Heaven knows how many books, new or old, would have to be censored. As repulsive as I find the ideas in _Mein Kampf_, for example, it is important to have the book available for historical study. Would one, in a Waldron hate speech regime, need a special dispensation from the government to read a work like that? What about someone wanting to read the works of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, or Arthur Gobineau? Better yet, how would a book like Nicholas Wade's controversial _A Troublesome Inheritance_ fare? Would pharmaceutical research into race-based and ethnicity-based treatments (such as Bidil, for example) be shut down?
Waldron is a liberal law professor, and of course is in love with constructing new rules and regulations to harass the rest of us, clog up the courts, and put more people in jail.
I'll end this review by mentioning that I went to hear Dr. Waldron speak about his book last year at a university I won't identify. During the Q&A afterwards I asked him whether or not he would consider as "hate speech" statements made in a book to the effect that non-Muslims should avoid social contact with and not take Muslims as friends or associates. After some hemming and hawing, he finally said yes. I then asked him whether or not he would consider an explicit comparison of Muslims with apes and pigs to be hate speech. With much less hesitation, he said yes. So, I asked, what would you do about the passages in the Koran, mainly found in Sura 5, which command Muslims not to take Christians or Jews for friends, and compare Jews to apes and pigs? His response was so filled with stumbles and fumbles that there were even a few twitters of laughter from the audience. It came down to "there will have to be an exception for holy books." Oh, in that case, what if I start a new church and write a holy book filled with "hate speech"?
The old maxim, from Sun Tzu, I think, is: "Know your enemy." If you love our First Amendment freedoms, you need to be aware of and understand the threats to them. Waldron is one of them. So while I don't give this book a positive rating, I suggest that if you are a classical liberal, you will want to take this opposing view into consideration and read or listen to the book. We cannot counter our opponents' arguments if we do not know what they are.
I am an avid reader of all kinds of books, and an avid audibook listener. I generally try to find something positive to say about a given title even if I'm not wild about it. "Jam," however, presents the generous critic with a genuine challenge. As much as I hate to say it, and as much as I hate to pan the work of a young writer, I have to say that this book is just plain bad. It was a real struggle to get through it, at times it was hard for me to believe that it's a relatively short title at 14 hours. It felt more like 14 days.
I love horror of all kinds (I was drawn to the flesh-eating blob concept at the heart of the story), and I love comedy. I also love peanut butter, and I love tomato sauce. That does not mean that the two should be mixed in the same dish. Likewise with the two genres of horror and comedy. There may be some examples of success in such a venture, but I certainly can't think of any (the slightly less terrible "John Dies at the End," in a similar vein, does not count as a success). The two cancel each other out, and the end result is a painfully boring narrative that's neither frightening nor funny.
If Croshaw is trying his hand at "black humor" in the manner of Vonnegut or Chuck Pahlaniuk, it ain't working. Real black humor is not simply a matter of mixing humor with extreme violence and gore. There is much more to it than that.
Way too much snappy dialogue that's meant to be funny but just falls flat. None of the "witty" repartee among the hipster/geek characters made me crack a smile once.
Bad, just bad. Avoid this book unless what I've just described is your cup of tea.
According to the audiobook information, this is the J.M. Cohen translation (the same as the Penguin Classics edition). That is inaccurate, unless Cohen produced two separate translations. But this is not a major problem, as Rousseau's original French is rendered into clear and supple English in this Audible edition.
Rousseau has never been a thinker I admired. In my view the philosophical core of his ideas (conveyed in other books) form the toxic legacy of modern leftist ideology. Yet his contradictions (championing a sort of extreme individualism while pushing collectivism) are very interesting, and anyone who loves the written word will have to admit that he was a highly gifted writer. And this very important book is one of the West's defining cultural monuments. If Rousseau seems sometimes oblivious to the consequences of some of his own ideas, it must be said that some of the foundational principles he adheres to (rejection of orthodoxy, skepticism toward authority,etc.) are beautifully stated.
_The Confessions_ is his autobiography, startling even now for its frankness. Almost straight out of the gate he tells us how his lifelong penchant for masochistic sex was formed in his childhood, when his female guardian (some 15 years his senior) regularly administered corporal punishment for bad behavior. One of the most disturbing incidents in the novel details an ugly episode of sexual abuse by an older man. Quite gross.
But the book remains worth reading not for its capacity to titillate, but because it stands as the example par excellence of a man telling us how he came to be who he is.
The sheer variety of these great stories - which range from gruesome horror tales to hardboiled crime narrative to literary poignancy - should be enough to recommend this title, but on top of that each story has a different reader (all recognizable voices of famous actors), and each reader seems somehow especially suited to the story in question.
If "Autopsy in Room 4" doesn't grab you right away and hold you spellbound in horrified fascination, then I don't know what will!
This novel, a sort of blend of William Golding's famous novel about boys trapped on an island, and killer parasite horror movies like "Slither," is pretty darn horrifying if not too terribly original. In spite of a few spots of filler dialogue and overly-lengthy narrative digressions, "The Troop" lives up to its fierce reputation as an uncompromisingly brutal horror story. Definitely not for the squeamish, but if you like gory sci-fi horror, then this is right up your alley.
Reading Barry Goldwater's landmark (if short) book has been on my to-do list for a long time. But I've finally gotten around to listening to it and I must say that I find it very impressive. Without engaging in hyperventilating "manifesto" rhetoric, it provides about the clearest and most concise statement of conservative principles available anywhere. Although there are several references to events particular to the historical moment in which Goldwater wrote the book (the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the Civil Rights movement), the principles he articulates are timeless. It is quite amazing to hear such forceful and coherent arguments on the issues many of us think are so crucial to our own time (states' rights, the role of federal government, the proper definition of words like "freedom" and "rights," the Constitution, not the Supreme Court, as the ultimate arbiter) written more than half a century ago. It's as if Goldwater is the first modern Tea Party Republican. And in many ways, he was. He was the de facto leader of "conservatism in exile" during an era (the early 1960s) that at least one historian has dubbed "the liberal hour." In an era which saw a drastic expansion of government's role in our daily lives, he went against the grain. Of course, the "moderate" Republicans of his day (Rockefeller, Nixon, etc.) were no help -- they all went against him, arguing that he would consign the party to the margins with his "extremism." But Goldwater's position was vindicated once it became all too clear that the Kennedy-Johnson "Great Society" liberalism against which the Arizona senator had been running was a recipe for disaster on a massive scale. Boy, does any of this sound familiar?
But let me point out a few notable aspects of this little treatise. First and foremost is its clear definition of the conservative philosophy without getting into a long disquisition on the Burkean origins of modern conservatism (for that, see Russell Kirk's book on the subject). Of course, the meaning of "conservative" is relative to its larger context (so for example, a Soviet Communist hardliner in 1980 might be "conservative" in a sense because he wants to "conserve" the corrupt system in which he thrives), but for our purposes "conservatism" is equivalent to "constitutionalism" (or, more specifically, federalism). Conservatives wish to preserve the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and to maintain the proper relationship between the state and the individual. "Liberals" (actually, statists), on the other hand, who make loud noises about "trampling on the Constitution" or "the Imperial Presidency" whenever a Republican is in office, but often reject the notion that the federal government or the executive branch should be limited by the Constitution (as long as it stands in the way of them implementing their utopian, redistributive schemes).
Goldwater also argues very persuasively against the modern faux-liberal tendency to look toward international law or the United Nations rather than U.S. constitutional law as supreme. Doing so, as he makes clear, is a recipe for yielding our precious sovereignty.
A couple of things that will shock and/or scandalize some readers/listeners:
1. It is taken for granted now (as it was, perhaps to a lesser extent) in Goldwater's day that government has a large role to play in education. We've been conditioned to think that government supervision or operation of our schools is natural, normal, and desirable. But this author puts forth a very convincing argument that government has no business whatsoever interfering in education. Education is a good and/or service, like food or health care, and is not a "right." To designate it as a right involves an unconstitutional imposition on individuals. If there is to be any government involvement in schools, it should be local or state involvement. The federal government should stay out of it.
2. Goldwater has been unfairly tarred with the "racist" appellation (who knew?) because he opposed portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Oh yes, those evil racist Republicans! Tea Party KKK Nazis! (Never mind that Goldwater was part Jewish). But here Goldwater explains his opposition, and it makes perfect sense. There's nothing racist about it. He argues that it is clearly the business of the government to ensure that everyone's voting rights are protected, but that the government has NO business forcing private businesses to serve customers they don't want to serve. That is a clear violation of the principle of freedom of association.
One principle that "liberals" will find it hard with which to disagree is his insistence on the 10th Amendment as the key to solving social and cultural disputes. If it's not specifically spelled out as a legitimate function of the federal government in the Constitution, then it's left up to the individual states. Thus so many of our battles over things like gay marriage or legalizing pot could be solved by letting individual states decide what to do in these matters rather than imposing a blanket solution one way or the other on all fifty states.
All in all, a stimulating and edifying listen. I will be sure to refer back to this classic time and again.
I had long been aware of Dennis Wheatley's occult novels, but only recently decided to give one of them a try (I'd first read of them in an interview with Black Sabbath's bass player, Geezer Butler, on whom they exerted a big influence). For some reason I was under the impression that _The Devil Rides Out_ is a novel in the "occult horror" genre and that Wheatley is a horror writer, but I realized that I was mistaken by the time I was about a third of the way into the story. _The Devil Rides Out_ is not a horror novel, as I had expected. However, I wasn't at all disappointed. This is a solid, first-rate thriller that I found immensely enjoyable. Wheatley in the end is probably more Ian Fleming than Stephen King (although his prose style is a bit more lush than either of those writers), and I would be willing to bet that he influenced many authors in the first wave of modern thriller writing (Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follett, etc.).
The narrative is structured thus: A young man comes under the influence of a cult leader who gives off the appearance of a Crowleyesque charlatan and pretender but who nevertheless possesses considerable charisma and personal magnetism. He is clearly evil, but those who fall under his sway are unable to see it. The first part of the novel revolves around the attempt of this young man's friends to intervene on his behalf and get him out from under the influence of this black magician; to rescue him from the clutches of the cult. I won't say whether or not the attempt is successful, because I want this review to remain spoiler-free. But the second half of the novel is a wildly suspenseful race-against-time wherein the protagonists (good guys) attempt to thwart the above-mentioned "magician" from conducting a bloody human sacrifice to Satan. Again, keeping it spoiler-free, so I won't say anything more about the outcome. Suffice it say that Wheatley had very good commercial instincts and he really knew how to turn out a pulse-pounding, ripping good story. I you like a good thriller and don't mind the exotic element of Satanism (which Wheatley definitely does NOT put in a positive light) thrown in, then you will probably enjoy this story.
It is almost unbelievable that such a wild story about Satanism and human sacrifice would be published in the 1930s, and garner such a wide and enthusiastic readership!
Nick Mercer's voice is a perfect fit for this novel. No complaints on that score.
Timely, relevant, and engaging.
Yes. The action is non-stop (constant assassinations and bombings), and the sense of anticipation building in the listener as events unfold is thrilling. I actually felt the same kind of excitement listening to this novel as I felt when watching '24.'
Mr. Kemp's narration unfortunately is the one blemish on this production. He reads competently, but with very little inflection or dramatic sense. Very monotone. If a Scott Brick or a Dick Hill or a Simon Vance could narrate this, it would reach a much wider audience. I hope Audible carries the other two novels in Mr. Bracken's trilogy and gets better quality narration for them.
Ranya Bardiwell and Brad Fallon are obviously the two most important characters. They are the pillars around which the story revolves. Ranya is a woman set on getting revenge for her father's brutal death, and Brad is sort of a reluctant warrior who wants to leave and forget about the United States (the government of which has become tyrannical, operating totally outside of its constitutional bounds), but is drawn into Ranya's crusade out of a sense of justice, as well as a romantic attraction to Ranya.
One of the most memorable moments in the novel, fraught with masterfully-rendered irony, revolves around an official public ceremony meant to coincide with the effectuation of the law that essentially bans firearms in the United States. It's meant to be a big, beautiful spectacle, complete with the unveiling of a statue made from melted-down guns and the unleashing of white doves, all in front of a huge audience of Oprah-disciples, soccer moms, and other assorted bien-pensant sheeple. A lone, pro-2nd Amendment protestor on a motorized hang glider flies over the crowd with the intention of dropping leaflets, upon which are printed powerful quotes and facts about the dangers of gun control. The mirror-shades security goons covering down on the event spot him, and, thinking that he's got a bomb, blow him out of the sky with a high-powered rifle. The protestor's bloody corpse, hanging from the motorized glider, smashes into a nearby building.
The novel is full of breathtaking incidents like the one I just described above. Mr. Bracken has a message, but it's never preachy, and he knows that the most important things in a novel are story and character development. Plenty of both here.
I have read Mr. Bracken's books in paperback form prior to hearing the recorded version, and I enjoyed them immensely. These are books to be read again and again, so I was thrilled when I saw that 'Enemies' had become available on Audible. 'Enemies,' written over 10 years ago, is eerily prescient of everything that has gone on in regard to the attacks on the Second Amendment in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. It is a very convincing wake-up call, and a finely drawn picture of what a de facto repeal of our constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms would look like were it ever to take place. And that prospect, at this historical moment, seems more plausible than ever.
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