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.
Research. Presentation. Depth.
Books by Mark Lane, Rush to Judgement, Plausible Deniability or Last Word, for example.
The narrator spoke clearly, at an even pace, and did not mispronounce words, as often happens with Audible history narrators.
Learn once and for all the truth about the JFK murder.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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