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Terry A. Gray

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  • JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By James W. Douglass
    • Narrated By Pete Larkin

    At the height of the Cold War, JFK risked committing the greatest crime in human history: starting a nuclear war. Horrified by the specter of nuclear annihilation, Kennedy gradually turned away from his long-held Cold Warrior beliefs and toward a policy of lasting peace. But to the military and intelligence agencies in the United States, who were committed to winning the Cold War at any cost, Kennedy's change of heart was a direct threat to their power and influence.

    Peter says: "One Book EVERY AMERICAN Needs to Read"
    "Best book on the JFK Assassination"
    If you could sum up JFK and the Unspeakable in three words, what would they be?

    Research. Presentation. Depth.

    What other book might you compare JFK and the Unspeakable to and why?

    Books by Mark Lane, Rush to Judgement, Plausible Deniability or Last Word, for example.

    What about Pete Larkin’s performance did you like?

    The narrator spoke clearly, at an even pace, and did not mispronounce words, as often happens with Audible history narrators.

    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Learn once and for all the truth about the JFK murder.

    Any additional comments?

    This book handles deftly the wide range of evidence that the CIA construed and implemented the murder of JFK. Especially interesting are many of the eyewitness accounts to the original plan to murder him in Chicago on Nov. 2, the Oswald double, and the getaway flight of two of the perpetrators. Douglass presents clearly and fairly the stories of the many witnesses to the conspiracy.

    He also goes into great depth on the why of the murder. In sum, it was because Kennedy was turning away from cold war posturing, and turning to peace initiatives that defied the entrenched authority of the CIA and their military allies. He went so far in pursuing peace, that he had to be killed. The specifics are well known: the bay of pigs debacle and hatred for Kennedy among those in the CIA who were involved; a possible rapprochement with Castro; Kennedy's convincingly presented desire and program to extract the US from Viet Nam; the comprehensive test ban treaty Kennedy supported between the US and USSR; and most especially his growing partnership with Khrushchev to move the world towards a non-war footing, after their sobering brinksmanship during the Cuban missile crisis. Douglass makes much of Kennedy's inspiring American University address of June 1963, which wrote sealed to his death warrant.

    I do have a couple of minor criticisms, but I hope they do not discourage anyone from enjoying this thoroughly researched and important book. One is that Douglass, as a Catholic and peace advocate, tries to tie in too often the views and comments of Thomas Merton. They are relevant, but do not deserve the weight he gives them. Another is that Douglass presents baldly the evidence of all the eye witnesses to the activities of Oswald and his CIA double leading up to and on the day of the assassination, but never summarizes the whole rather confusing sets of evidence in a clear statement. Finally, it may be going too far to attribute of JFK the role of peace martyr. He is treated with perhaps a little more reverence than deserved, though Douglass never hesitates to point out a few of his personal shortcomings.

    These minor matters only very slightly detract from the powerful presentation and in-depth research that makes this the best assassination book, from the evidential and historical perspectives, I have read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By David Browne
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    January 1970: the Beatles assemble one more time to put the finishing touches on Let It Be; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are wrapping up Déjà Vu; Simon and Garfunkel are unveiling Bridge Over Troubled Water; James Taylor is an upstart singer-songwriter who's just completed Sweet Baby James. Over the course of the next twelve months, their lives---and the world around them---will change irrevocably.

    Kathy says: "Fascinating information, easy to listen"
    "You Had to Be There"

    Being of an age, it is hard for me to imagine how this expansive review of the year 1970 would read for a younger person. My kids do seem to be interested in the era, but I suspect it is because 1) the first ones there mined that musical vein out; and 2) nothing better has come along since. In any event, I was there and this multi-biography/social history gets it just right. The narrative is balanced and if anything gives The
    Beatles less attention than the other three acts. If you were paying attention all those years ago (and since) not a whole lot new is here, but its fun and entertaining to reminisce. One remarkable fact the book brought out was the radicalism of the times, with respect to bombings and social turmoil. We tend to forget the nastiness of it all. The narrator is very good and the text flows elegantly. Nothing challenging here, but for those who were there, a fun rewind.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Amy Stewart
    • Narrated By Coleen Marlo
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In this darkly comical look at the sinister side of our relationship with the natural world, Stewart has tracked down over one hundred of our worst entomological foes - creatures that infest, infect, and generally wreak havoc on human affairs. From the world's most painful hornet, to the flies that transmit deadly diseases, to millipedes that stop traffic, to the Japanese beetles munching on your roses, Wicked Bugs delves into the extraordinary powers of many-legged creatures

    Paul says: "fascinating and creepy"
    "Just a Catalog"

    This is the sort of book just about anyone could cook up after an entomological tour of Wikipedia and then some further--but not too deep--research at a library. It is superficially scientific, at least Latin names are used, but little more than a catalog, with brief venture into pestiferous Ripley's Believe It Or Not gosh awful descriptions of the tortures of insect or arachnid toxins. It might serve as a sort of bar bet reference, but is otherwise is fairly dull.

    The narration is good, but the material to be narrated verges on tedious so it is hard to stay with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette

    Reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    Ethan M. says: "Excellent, if unfocused"
    "If you like science and fiction..."

    If you like stories about science, specifically centered on elements of the periodic table, you will love this book. They are not science stories, but great stories related to science. Along the way you will get a little science, but not so much. It's mostly about great stories, like why you can track the Lewis & Clark expedition by the mercury laxatives they took, why spoons were made from gallium, why Fleishman and Ponds, why they put bismuth in pepto, and on and on. The stories are only related by their chemical connection, but it all hangs together in a terrific collection performed excellently. Five stars for the stories, four for the performance. Very entertaining.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Thomas Hager
    • Narrated By Adam Verner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    At the dawn of the 20th century, humanity was facing global disaster. Mass starvation, long predicted for the fast-growing population, was about to become a reality. A call went out to the worlds scientists to find a solution. This is the story of the two enormously gifted, fatally flawed men who found it: the brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and the reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, controlled world markets, and saved millions of lives.

    sarah says: "Riveting"
    "Great Book Thoroughly Researched"

    This is one of the best audio books I have listened to in a long time, and I listen lots. It is the story of Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch, and there collaboration on the Haber-Bosch process for creating fixed nitrogen using ultra high pressure chemistry in specially engineered Haber-Bosch machines. Haber was the scientist who discovered the process for making ammonia from nitrogen, hydrogen, and various catalysts while heating them under very high pressures. Bosch is the one who solved the practical engineering difficulties and build the original Haber-Bosch machines for the German chemical giant BASF. Both men are fascinating. Haber was the extrovert, the Jew who for social purposes converted to Christianity (which is an important element in the story once Hitler came to power), the scientist who signed the agreement with BASF and then went on to direct the famed Kaiser Wilhelm institute during WWI and thereafter, even spearheading poison gas efforts. Bosch was the metallurgist and mechanic who took Haber's process and brought it to large scale production. Literally, 5/7 of the world's population would not now be alive if it had not been for the process, which made fixed nitrogen fertilizers cheap and widely available, replacing the old guano or naturally occurring Chile nitrates as the fertilizer of choice around the world. The story does not end with nitrogen chemistry, however. Bosch rose to head BASF, and later I. G. Farben, the German chemical giant, and pursued synthetic gasoline as his next great project.

    The book explains the technical processes, which I found fascinating, the history of nitrate fertilizers--far more interesting than you can imagine--and German history as they impinged on the lives of Haber and Bosch. Both men display greatness, even hubris, and essential flaws. Their reactions to the Hitler regime are their personal crucibles, but their lives are fascinating in what they managed to accomplish. A really great audio book even though the subject seems unlikely.

    I cannot say the same for the quality of the performance. It is adequate, but uninspired.Several words are annoyingly mispronounced--like the word "solder," for example, pronounced with a long o--a sure sign that the reader was unfamiliar with the subject--but don't let this criticism dissuade you from listening to this fine book. It's a 3-star performance of a 5-star book.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Life

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Keith Richards, James Fox
    • Narrated By Johnny Depp, Joe Hurley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Now at last Keith Richards pauses to tell his story in the most anticipated autobiography in decades. And what a story! Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records in a coldwater flat with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, building a sound and a band out of music they loved. Finding fame and success as a bad-boy band, only to find themselves challenged by authorities everywhere....

    Jesse says: "Ins and outs"
    "Thrilling Life"

    What a terrific audio book. You truly get to know Keith in this engaging autobiography, and there's lots to love: the Stones history and mythology explained, a lifetime's cast of marginal characters brought center stage, the influence, uses and abuses of a long history with drugs, but most of all the music. Keith's love of music in general and true rock and roll in particular, and guitar rock very specifically, are at the core of the book. The book is a great story. We get to listen to one of the true originals of 20th century music tell it all, and its a blast. Not sure what the female reviewers who gave the book 1 star are talking about. They preface their reviews with what big Stones fans they are, and then criticize KR for misogyny because of his use of certain slang terms. What? Didn't you listen to any of the lyrics of the songs? Its a vernacular, and a life that apparently the reviewers never shared. The truth is Keith's sincerity and love for the significant women in his life are touching and real, especially his mature attitude to Anita Pallenberg. The best of the book is its tone. Richards is completely honest, completely sincere. He has, like him or not, integrity. I'm reminded of an interview I once saw with Bernie Worrell where Bernie calls Keith "one of the people." And that's it. He is the real deal: a genuine rock song writing original, but even more a true, for real, much to be admired human with values that cannot be compromised and faith with friends that cannot be breached. That's what the book is about.

    The narration by Johnny Depp is good, but that by Joe Hurley is superb. If you were wondering whether this one is really worth it, it is.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Sean B. Carroll
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey

    For over a century, opening the black box of embryonic development was the holy grail of biology. Evo Devo--Evolutionary Developmental Biology--is the new science that has finally cracked open the box. Within the pages of his rich and riveting book, Sean B. Carroll explains how we are discovering that complex life is ironically much simpler than anyone ever expected.

    Terry A. Gray says: "Challenging but rewarding"
    "Challenging but rewarding"

    This is a book that requires close attention and a good working knowledge of genetic terms. It may be frustrating or just plain too difficult for those not versed in at least the basics of genetics, developmental biology, especially some basic embryology, and modern evolutionary theory. The specialist's terms come fast and furious in spite of a very able narrator. If you are hopelessly lost when someone says "homeotic Hox gene" then perhaps easing into this topic would be better than trying to listen to this book, or at least have the Wikipedia handy and be prepared to stop and do a lot of term checking. For the experienced student it is outstanding. Even for the uninitiated generalist, however, the final chapters on human evolution and evolutionary science vs. fundamentalist ignorance are outstanding.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Sarah Rose
    • Narrated By Sarah Rose
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In 1848, the British East India Company, having lost its monopoly on the tea trade, engaged Robert Fortune, a Scottish gardener, botanist, and plant hunter, to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China - territory forbidden to foreigners - to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea horticulture and manufacturing. For All the Tea in China is the remarkable account of Fortune's journeys into China - a thrilling narrative that combines history, geography, botany, natural science, and old-fashioned adventure.

    S. Mersereau says: "Like Fingernails on a Chalkboard"
    "Interesting Book but Poor Narration"

    Well, I made it through the book because of its inherent interest, but the narration is just as bad as the other reviewers say. The voice is adolescent, words are stressed peculiarly, and the speakers voice is not pitched pleasantly. Since the narrator is also the author, let me hasten to say that she is a much better writer than narrator. Next time, get a pro.

    The story of Robert Fortune is enthralling, even though little is known in detail of his latter years. He died a very rich man thanks to his collecting and botanical expeditions. He was also highly respected within his own Victorian culture, in spite of the fact that he was responsible for an enormous act of theft and what we would today call industrial espionage. Its the sort of crime, like the later Boer War, that we would condemn today but that was cheered at the time.

    The book has a lot going for it: exotic settings; great historical characters like Falconer, Jameson, and Hooker; venal Chinese servants, renegade Christian hordes, the Indian Mutiny of 1857 (known, of course, as the first war of Independence to Indian historians--the author loses the thread of linear events in an effort to bring this exciting confrontation into her story), and much more. Unfortunately the author does not make as much of it all as would seem possible, but still it holds up. The sections on tea itself--types, chemical composition, methods of manufacture and brewing, actually become the most interesting parts of the book.

    You could hardly call this book a "page turner"--or "gotta hear" in this case--but overall it is worth a listen, but be prepared to put up with a less than skillful narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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