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Dave

Glenview, IL, United States | Member Since 2004

174
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 19 reviews
  • 821 ratings
  • 1762 titles in library
  • 27 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
16

  • Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Jeff Ashton
    • Narrated By Jeff Ashton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (218)
    Performance
    (200)
    Story
    (199)

    It was the trial that stunned America, the verdict that shocked us all. On July 5, 2011, nearly three years after her initial arrest, Casey Anthony walked away, virtually scot-free, from one of the most sensational murder trials of all time. She'd been accused of killing her daughter, Caylee, but the trial only left behind more questions: Was she actually innocent? What really happened to Caylee? Was this what justice really looked like?

    Wade says: "The Casey Anthony Saga - required reading"
    "Surprisingly Compelling -"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not sure why I got this book in the first place. Like much of the rest of the world, I watched this train-wreck of a true-crime story as it unfolded (derailed?) on live TV, and I was tired of the whole sordid mess by the time the verdict came in. Then I saw this book on Audible, and the true-crime fan in me must have overcome the tired-of-Casey-Anthony-watcher, because I bought it and dropped it into my playlist, where it sat ignored for weeks. When I finally got around to trying it out, I quickly found myself intrigued despite myself, and before I knew it I was sucked right back into it and enjoying every minute of the story. Unlike the case itself, the book flew by in no time.

    Although there were some fascinating insights throughout, I can't say that there was a whole lot of new information, particularly if you followed the story in real time. But the author (who also happens to be the prosecutor who lost the trial) does such a good job telling the story and fleshing out the characters and their motivations, I found myself fascinated even by the re-telling of facts I already knew and people I was tired of hearing about. Plus, he's very good at reading his own writing, which isn't surprising given that he's a trial attorney who has to exactly that day in and day out in court.

    I was also impressed with how little whining Ashton did about the outcome or unfairness of the trial, which isn't always the case when losing attorneys write their account of a big trial. You sort of expect "How It Wasn't My Fault That a Murderer Went Free," but while this book doesn't shy away from exposing the author's dislike for opposing counsel, it didn't wallow in constant finger-pointing or blame-shifting, which I very much appreciated.

    In closing, your honor, I went into both the real-life case and the reading of this book skeptical and unconvinced. Jeff Ashton convinced me at the trial, and many months later he convinced me to keep reading his book even though I wasn't sure I wanted to. If only he had convinced that jury as effectively as he did me, a certain narcissistic baby-killer would be living the "good life" in jail right now where she belongs.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo - and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Richard Lloyd Parry
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (426)
    Performance
    (367)
    Story
    (368)

    Lucie Blackman - tall, blond, 21 years old - stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000 and disappeared. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave. The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, and Lucie’s desperate but bitterly divided parents. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work as a hostess in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo really involve?

    La Becket says: "The best audiobook I have ever heard -- hands down"
    "Great Start, But Too Much Middle"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book started well --- interesting story, excellent writing, compelling mystery -- and it made me really want to find out what happened. But after a few hours it seemed to get mired in so many details that it lost the larger thread of the story for me. Eventually I just gave up. I'm guessing there was more substance to all the narrative details than what I took with me, and all the details in the middle probably had a storytelling purpose. But the end result for me was a feeling of too much setup and not enough payoff.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Through the Window: The Terrifying True Story of Cross-Country Killer Tommy Lynn Sells

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Diane Fanning
    • Narrated By Thomas M. Hatting
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (42)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    Ten-year-old Krystal Surles watched as her best friend was murdered before the intruder slashed her throat with a 12-inch boning knife. Despite the odds, she survived and led authorities to 35-year-old Tommy Lynn Sells, a former truck driver, carnival worker, and drifter. Through the Window includes his confession to the murder of 10-year-old Joel Kirkpatrick, playing a pivotal role in obtaining justice for wrongfully convicted Julie Rea.

    Dave says: "Very Good Book About a Very Bad Dude"
    "Very Good Book About a Very Bad Dude"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was one of the better True Crime books I've listened to in a while, and I thought it was Fanning's best work as well. The facts of the case are truly horrifying, and Tommy Lynn Sells' casual, almost nonchalant evil is hard to accept, but the book is all the more compelling for it. Fanning does a good job adding some backstory to each of the victims, and she recreates the monstrous details of the crimes without sensationalizing them. It's a bit difficult to keep track of all of the characters, in part because this guy took so many lives and affected so many more. You can't tell his story without telling all of theirs, and all the names do get a little lost in the crowd of ruined lives. Perhaps the author could have done a little better job adding context or recurring memory markers of some kind so listeners who aren't keeping score on a notepad can keep up with the catalog of horrors. But that's nit-picking ----- this was well-researched, -written and -narrated account that lovers of True Crime should enjoy immensely.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Bill Sammon
    • Narrated By Scotty Drake
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Gore had known even before the first ballot of the 2000 election was recounted that this odds for success were slim. Oh, there was some genuine hope in the Gore camp, especially during those first heady hours, that a new tally would produce a new winner. But there was also a more realistic assessment of the situation. It bought them some time. One thing was certain: they couldn't wait until the conclusion of the recount, which would probably confirm Bush's win, to disabuse the press and public of the expectation of quick closure.

    Dave says: "Fascinating Account of the 2008 Election Debacle"
    "Fascinating Account of the 2008 Election Debacle"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There is no stone left unturned --- and no chad left hanging --- in this detailed, fast-paced account of the 2008 Bush/Gore election and its disturbing aftermath. The author, a Washington Times reporter, is clearly not a fan of Mr. Gore, but I appreciated the fact that he makes no attempt to pretend otherwise. You know where he's coming from, and he does a good job of showing the reader what caused him to feel that way. But it's no caustic political screed, either. The author uses facts and first-hand accounts to tell the tale, and it works. The very real characters and their actions are so interesting on their own that that they don't need any additional puffery or authorial elaboration.

    Admitedly, conservatives and libertarians will probably appreciate this book more than their counterparts on the left. The Gore team comes off looking extremely petty and political, and nobody wants to think their guy is THAT guy. I've looked, but I haven't been able to find an equally well-researched, fact-based account taken from the former Vice-President's perspective, which is regretful. I'm sure there are some mitigating factors and untold details that might soften the unflattering portrait of the Gore Team's actions, and there are probably some skeletons in the Right's closet as well. I'd like to hear both sides before cementing my own opinions on the matter. But if this was a trial and the facts in this book were the evidence at hand, the verdict would be unanimous: the right guy won. Pun intended.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By James Delingpole
    • Narrated By C. B. Bonham
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Start every day off RIGHT! Try one of our 365 ways to drive a liberal (even more) crazy. Whether you quote from the Constitution (what, that old relic?) or point out the facts about global warming (as in, the planet has been steadily cooling for the past decade)-this is one sure-fire way to get under a lefty's (thin) skin.

    Dave says: "Not Up To Author's Usual High Standards"
    "Not Up To Author's Usual High Standards"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have always enjoyed Delingpole's writing and commentary -- particularly the dry, informed wit he brings as an English Conservative commenting on issues just now facing Americans -- but this one falls short. Unlike most everything else he's written, it's neither all that funny or particularly incisive. In tone, it feels a bit like a Conservative version of one of those monumentally unfunny Al Franken "I Hate Republicans" books. For a better sense of Delingpole's normally clever and intelligent writing, try "Welcome to Obamaland."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Mara Leveritt
    • Narrated By Lorna Raver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (149)
    Performance
    (132)
    Story
    (131)

    “Free the West Memphis Three!” - maybe you’ve heard the phrase, but do you know why their story is so alarming? Do you know the facts? The guilty verdicts handed out to three Arkansas teens in a horrific capital murder case were popular in their home state - even upheld on appeal. But after two HBO documentaries called attention to the witch-hunt atmosphere at the trials, artists and other supporters raised concerns about the accompanying lack of evidence.

    La Becket says: "Surprisingly disappointing"
    "Fascinating True Story; Fair-to-Midling Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a fascinating story, and I had followed it over the past 10 years or so via the series of 3 excellent film documentaries (i.e. "Paradist Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills"). I was hoping this book would fill in some of the missing details that a short-form filmed documentary simply can't cover, or at least retell the story in a more nuanced way. But I'm 3 hours into the audiobook and it just hasn't given me a reason to keep listening.

    If you have never heard the story of the West Memphis 3 you might find this book fascinating because the story and characters are so compelling. It's a mind-blowing human drama, to say the least. But for someone who has seen the documentaries this audiobook had very little to offer, at least for me. The narration was pretty good, although her voice sometimes got grating. To be honest, I can't tell if the narration suffered a bit because of the storytelling or if the story suffered because of the narration, but the net effect was to cause an interested reader to walk away from the audiobook halfway through.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Written in Blood: A True Story of Murder and the Deadly 16-Year-Old Secret that Tore a Family Apart

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Diane Fanning
    • Narrated By Rob Granniss
    Overall
    (45)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (44)

    Michael Peterson was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, a candidate for mayor and a New York Times best-selling novelist. His wife Kathleen was the first woman ever admitted to the Duke University School of Engineering, a brilliant executive and a loving and fun-filled mother-the last woman who one would expect to become a victim in her own home.

    Dave says: "Fascinating, But Ridiculously Biased"
    "Fascinating, But Ridiculously Biased"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's one thing for a non-fiction author to have a point of view, but this author seems to have an axe to grind. She starts out really well, but about halfway through the author turns so biased and snarky it actually took me right out of the narrative. Part of what's so mind-blowing and fascinating about this story is how impossible it is to know whether Peterson is a multiple murderer or a tragic victim of coincidence and prosecutorial over-reach. I can't think of another case where BOTH sides have such strong circumstantial arguments and neither side has any real proof. So when the author starts sounding like a scornful opposition politican instead of a credible reporter of facts, all I could think of was "why the obvious agenda?" Worse, I kept wondering what REALLY happened, because it didn't feel like I was getting it straight. Ultimately, she didn't convince me of his guilt. If anything her obvious bias made me question her point of view more than it made me question Peterson's innocence.

    With all that said, I still finished it. The narration was very good, and there was never a moment when I didn't want to know more. She has a lot of interesting facts and anecdotes, and this truly is one of the most fascinating true stories I've ever come across. But I think she torpedoes herself by making those facts feel like opinions and the fascinating story feel like a closing argument.

    If you have never read about this amazing case (or if you have never seen the excellent multi-part documentary on the case called "The Staircase"), you might want to pick up this book despite all that. It's a great read, even if it isn't great factual reporting.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Candice Millard
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2074)
    Performance
    (1806)
    Story
    (1807)

    James A. Garfield may have been the most extraordinary man ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back. But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what hap­pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur­moil.

    Melinda says: "Marvelous, Magnificent, Millard"
    "An Amazing Book I Didnt Think I'd Be Amazed By"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a fascinating book on a subject I had no idea I was interested in. I probably wouldn't have bought it if Audible hadn't offered a free chapter, but it grabbed me right away and the pace never let up after I bought the entire audiobook. I love history, but this one sounded a little dry, to be honest. Many enjoyable hours later, I was thrilled to be proven wrong.

    "Destiny of the Republic" covers a part of both presidential and medical history that is rarely told, and never in a single book written in such a compelling, accessible style. The author weaves a number of apparently unrelated storylines together seamlessly, much like "Devil in the White City," and with equally thrilling results. The narrator was perfect --- credible, erudite and believable but never "teachy" or stiff --- and that rare combination of engaging narrator and fascinating, well-researched historical tale made this one of my favorite listens of 2011. And I'm saying that about a book that would have never even made my Wish List initially. So if you read the book's description and think it sounds fascinating, go for it --- you'll probably love this book. If, like me, you aren't intrigued by the subject matter at first but enjoy being pleasantly surprised, just try the first chapter. I'm guessing you'll love it too. Highly recommended, in either case.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Trashing the Planet: How Science Can Help Us Deal with Acid Rain, Depletion of the Ozone, and Nuclear Waste (among Other Things)

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Dixy Lee Ray, Lou Guzzo
    • Narrated By Jeff Riggenbach
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Trashing the Planet is the one book you need to get a common-sense grasp on the contentious issues of environmentalism, where science and politics overlap and well-meaning idealism turns to counterproductive eco-terrorism. Dixy Lee Ray, a marine biologist and former chair of the Atomic Energy Commission, calls for environmentalists to regain a sense of perspective and not let their ardor carry them into the realm of “noble lies.”

    Dave says: "Required Reading For Both Sides of the GreenDebate"
    "Required Reading For Both Sides of the GreenDebate"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book does as good a job as any I've read at identifying the issues, investigating the substantive facts and drawing reasoned conclusions without jumping to the same politically-driven, pre-determined positions that we've heard ad nauseum in the pet media of both sides. It seems the more I learn about these often complex scientific issues, the more I have come to realize that both sides have some truth in their positions, but both are substantially wrong in the rigidity, dogmatism and simplistic jingoism of their stances and solutions. And that uninformed rigidity seems like a bigger obstacle to finding a workable solution to these problems than just about anything else.

    In other words, there's way too much politics and not nearly enough science in the Green debate these days, in part because the science is often more complex and nuanced than a factoid on a flyer or a talking point on some pundit's cable TV show. But the authors of "Trashing the Planet" do a phenomenal job making the science not only understandable, but genuinely intriguing, and that alone should recommend it for wide consumption. I really enjoyed reading this book, and was pleasantly surprised at the way it pulled me through the chapters.

    That said, I would not recommend this book if all you want is to have your existing views validated, whatever they may be. This book changed my perspective on a few things I thought I understood better than I actually did, and gave me a deeper perspective on many others. To me, that's the sign of a truly well-written, well-argued book. There will surely be folks on both sides of the debate who will find simplistic, politically-sanctioned ways to trash "Trashing the Planet." But to anyone with even a shred of doubt, a flicker of curiosity or a glimmer of desire to learn more about subjects that should transcend politics but rarely do, this book is a treasure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Thomas Sowell Reader

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Thomas Sowell
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (118)
    Performance
    (100)
    Story
    (100)

    These selections from the many writings of Thomas Sowell over a period of half a century cover social, economic, cultural, legal, educational, and political issues. The sources range from Dr. Sowell’s letters, books, newspaper columns, and articles in both scholarly journals and popular magazines. The topics range from latetalking children to tax cuts for the rich, baseball, race, war, the role of judges, medical care, and the rhetoric of politicians.

    Dave says: "The Best Book By The Smartest Guy in the Room"
    "The Best Book By The Smartest Guy in the Room"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read a lot of Thomas Sowell's writing, and I found this to be the most interesting yet. It's full of pithy, intelligent shorts on a variety of subjects, but they are all unified by the clarity of his thinking. I've always found Sowell to be compelling, but this particular book actually changed my views on a couple of issues. If you already know and like Sowell, this is a great addition. If you've never read his work, this is a great place to start.

    25 of 26 people found this review helpful

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