John Dean's very fine book on the authoritarian conservative tradition is, despite its title, an excellent primer on contemporary American politics in general. Other writers, whose books are available from Audible, have noted that, at one time or another, both Democrats and Republicans have been the bad boys of Congress. LBJ stole, among other things, the 1948 Texas Senate election from Coke Stevenson (LBJ: Master of the Senate by Robert Caro). JFK was a randy, immoral, secretive executive willing to use the Mafia to topple Fidel Castro (Robert Kennedy: His Life by Evan Thomas). Nixon used the CIA to oust Salvador Allende from his elected presidency of Chile (Nixon and Kissinger by Robert Dallek) . It goes on and on. Amoral authoritarian behavior is not just Republican. It's the core of a life of political power.
Someone already convinced of a libertarian view.
More in depth knowledge of competing views. More knowledge of US history. Libertarianism was not the founding idea of the US, as Boaz says. What we had then and continue to have today is an essential and healthy tension between libertarianism (Jefferson, republicanism) and Hamiltonian Federalism. How much and what kind of government has always been a pertinent question.
None - very good
This is a history of the Paris Salon in mid nineteenth century where every year paint artists compete for space at the exhibit in the Champs Elysee palace. It's mainly about Manet and Meissonier with asides about other impressionists. The core is a discussion of the transition from realism ( Meissonier) to impressionism (Manet and others) and the politics of the Salon. Not very interesting, yet somewhat informative. The text is rambling but has a good narrator.
I cannot understand why a history of this quality would have such affectations both from the writer and the narrator. The author in his preface says he's going to Anglicize certain German words for ease of understanding. Mein Kampf becomes "my struggle" and Der Fuehrer becomes "the leader". These two German terms are so well known that it's hard to listen to their being spoken this way. "The leader" is often confusing. Which leader are we talking about now?
The narrator has done a great job with German and other language terms. But there are glaring mistakes. For example the Reichstag is not pronounced as tag as in license tag but as tahg with a soft g, almost a ch sound. Other such gaffs should have been caught in the editing.
All this makes for a feeling of amateurishness, marring an otherwise superb history.
All three volumes are topical and sequential but not a narrative history with in depth treatments of many important topics like the origins of racial policy and the economics of the Reich. How did Hitler pay for rearmament? It's easy engrossing listening that explains a great deal about how a well educated population could be psychically captured by a lunatic. It's a lesson that will endure.
Kids have imaginary friends. Adults have God.
Dawkins points out that religion may simply be a carryover from childhood's imaginary friends. Like adults, children need consolation and inspiration from imagined persons like the trinity and the saints. There is a strong emotional belief in these persons that causes rigidity of thought and has led to enormous harm to society in the form of bombed abortion clinics, and other acts of murder in the name of these imaginary friends. More heinous to Dawkins is inculcating in children a catechism of beliefs before they have critical faculties. This ensures the slavish and blind passage of belief across generations until, it is hoped, they are old enough to read this book.
Dawkins makes it clear that religion is irrational and inhumane. It treats people as passive receptacles not as thinking humans. The privileged social position of religion also means that believers are immunized against criticism and cannot be challenged without the challengers being dismissed as "ungodly".
The back and forth between the two narrators is very effective. Their speaking voices have the clear enunciation of Oxford English.
Overall, the book is a devastating critique of religion. I wish I had had this book for all those college dorm debates.
This book is about meetings punctuated by predictable unsuspenseful action. Just Macho drivel. Its only asset is George Guidell who reads it extremely well. Please George this is beneath you.
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There are five parts to this Audible book. I got thru four and 1/2 before I just gave out. The story moves along and the characters are mildly interesting for a while, but there really is no compelling reason for these characters to live. The plot is fairly simple: let's build a cathedral. There's interesting detail about the lives of the people and lots of descriptions of breasts - a Follett fetish I think. Toward the end the author loses the various narrative threads and gives quick summations of how things turned out rather than fleshing them out. It appear he too was tired out and rushed the ending. The book had all the appeal of a soap opera.
The plotting is very thin. Tell me, for example, how a woman carrying a newborn baby makes it on foot from England to Spain and finally Paris without much trouble.
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Robin Cook can write a nice page turner, but it's hard to swallow some of the events of this book. Number one: the protagonists, two MD lovers, both forensic pathologists. She finds out she's pregnant and is quite surpised, even though she and he have been using the rhythm method, notorious for its unreliability - hard to accept that two MDs wouldn't know better. Right at the outset the author lets you know there's a serial killer in the hospital exterminating sleeping patients with IV potassium chloride. We wait while our two somewhat slow-witted (remember the rhythm method)pathologists struggle through endless toxicology tests trying to find the poison in the dead patients. When they turn up nothing, you wonder why they don't think of potassium, a compound that injected in this way would disappear from the blood after death (common knowledge), but these are the guys who still think the rhythm method is a great form of birth control. Other plot elements like managed care as a sinister force and a glaring paper trail of criminal activity are also hard to swallow. But I have to admit I turned all the pages and enjoyed the story.
The Fountainhead is a study of the architect as hero. Howard Roark in the title role is a monochromatic character, who has no defects and does not change over the novel. He sticks to his guns and refuses to let others influence his work. Only he knows what is great architecture. This smugness is appealing for a while because he suffers (a little) for what he thinks is artistic. Roark, the hero, is also cast as a stud, raping the woman he secretly lusts for. Dominique Francon, the victim of this attack, enjoys the rape, an archetypal male fantasy. Dominique is more interesting because she is a study of contradictions. Does she love or hate Roark? It's hard to tell for a while until one sees she's trying to protect his genius from a callous, ignorant world.
But who cares? One of the difficulties with this novel is that architecture must be seen to be evaluated. I never really had a sense that Roark's designs were any good. The descriptions were thin. Another shortcoming is that Roark's self-absorption is cloying. I wanted to slap him and say, "There's nothing wrong with a healthy collaboration and give and take."
If the point of the novel is to preach the value of individualism, make Roark a more interesting character. Give him inner conflicts, self-doubts. A true hero struggles against an inner flaw. Roark's dialogue fosters the impression he's stiff-necked. His extended speech at end of his second trial is merely an apologia for his life, not disclosure. His relationship with Gail Wynand, the millionaire publisher, promised more male bonding and disclosure, but this too was undeveloped. Also, Roark was having an affair with his wife, Dominique - hard to be intimate with a man you're cuckolding.
Read this as an introduction to Ayn Rand. It's full of polemic about her philosophy, something she more fully developed later in her life.
The best thing about this recording is George Guidall, the reader, but this is otherwise a very difficult novel for the 21st century reader. Dostoevsky is a gifted writer, but his style is very dense with descriptions and dialogue that seem interminable and do not advance the plot.
Speaking of plot there is none to speak of. Raskolnikov, a failed impoverished student feeling sorry for himself and powerless, decides to do something powerful like murder a usurious pawnbroker whom he and the townspeople hate. The only action in the novel is the murder and the harrowing escape from the crime scene. Then it's back to dialogue about his sister's wedding plans and other townspeople and their problems.
Then there's the philosophy. Raskolnikov murders for an idea, something he developed in one of his student papers. Murder, he says, is justified if it's committed by powerful people, like Napoleon. Why should he be denied the privilege? His anguish is whether this idea really should justify his murder. This point of philosophy is interesting but poorly developed and makes its appearance only briefly throughout the novel with no real effect.
A possible impediment to the reader is the Russian convention of naming. The protagonist's name is Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. He is known affectionately as Rodya, to acquaintances as Rodion Romanovich, and to the writer as Raskolnikov.
A big disappointment is the relationship between Raskolnikov and the police officer, Porphiry Petrovich, who initially interrogates him. The officer very quickly tells Raskolnikov he knows he committed the crime and that eventually he will confess. At this point the novel becomes interesting and I had hoped a cat and mouse game would ensue similar to the one Peter Falk did so well in his Columbo series, but this was not to be - more long dialogue and more about his sister's suitors. Ho hum.
An epilogue ends the novel, but is simpleminded and too romantic - a good woman conquers all.
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