Over half the book focuses on the ancients from Aristotle and prior. He doesn't really cover the modern philosophers. I think he spent too much time on the pre-socratics. There is not much fresh about the author's view of the history of philosophy. In the view of the author, the history of philosophy is the history of the blossoming of philosophy in the ancient world with its culmination in Plato and Aristotle, followed by backsliding of philosophy during the Christian era (here, there is a typically negative description of the affects of Christiantity on philsophy and, implicitly, truth-seeking), and finally the remergence of philosophy triumphantly over Christian dogmatism. Mostly this is a simple history of what philosphers said. It is also the only audiobook history of philosophy on audible, so we have to make do. But remember that there are other ways of understanding the history of philosophy--and the story is incomplete without bringing it up to the modern era
Elijah Wood does a wonderful job narrating this story. At some parts, I laughed so hard tears came to my eyes. I had never read this book all the way through before. Now its on my favorites list.
This was very entertaining to listen to, and I learned so much about what once seemed to me as a sometimes dry history concerning the Revolutionary War. It is a great combination of a good story and good history.
It is not easy to learn the korean expressions because there is no repetition and they are often spoken too fast. Nor is there any clear logic or building. Much of the time the order of phrases seems random. Although I learned some phrases, especially when I concentrated hard--I think that I could learn more in the same time with a more systematic approach. What is more, if you are looking for an interesting and casual way of picking up korean in your spare time, this is not for you. But it is what it is--and if you listen to the sample you can hear what it is throughout.
I was disappointed with this book because I was hoping for a detailed biography of the life of Jefferson, but what I found was relatively little detail about who he was and what happened in his life. Rather, this book is a kind of journey through the mind of Jefferson?and yet, it is not very interesting at that. At several points my patience was severely tried because the author spends at least as much time commenting, speculating, and digressing as he does actually laying out the facts. I wanted facts and interesting narratives?but that was generally not what I found. In contrast to this book, I listened to the one on John Adams by McCullough, and it was wonderful?full of rich detail about Adams? life and experiences?very interesting. This book was hard to listen to through the end however. In particular, was bothered by the poetic, flowery writing style. At first, it seemed refreshing?reminiscent of the 18th century style of writing. But soon it sounded purposelessly wordy and became annoying. The reader was not bad, but perhaps a little slow. I am sure that there are some people who would love this book?perhaps those who are of a more poetic persuasion and who are interested in a kind of psychological approach to Jefferson (although, in my opinion, this book fails to truly look into Jefferson?s inner-self because it does not attempt to seriously study and analyze Jefferson?s writings?of which there is much). I would have given it only two stars--but becuase I think that there are some people who might enjoy the book I did not want to discourage them too much.
This book was interesting to me because I have not read much about the details of founding era history yet. For this reason--because I learned a lot of detailed history--I enjoyed listening to this book. Nevertheless, I feel that there is a significant degree of ambiguity in the book's hypothesis. This ambiguity is embodied in the title itself: "What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States". On the one hand, the title indicates a focus on Jefferson and Marshall, and indeed, at times, the author seems to go out of his way to point out how these two men disliked each other--both personally and for their political views and efforts. On the other hand, it seems that the book is about the conflict between the Federalist and Republican views of what the newborn nation was and should be. The first part of the title, "What Kind of Nation" indicates that the latter is the case. Yet the conflict between the Republicans and the Federalists in the early years of the nation was more than a conflict between two men. These men were important players in that conflict, but their roles should not be emphasized to the point of implying that the whole conflict was fought by these two champion fighters alone. To put it simply, this book did not convince me that the conflict over the nature of the new nation could be captured primarily by a history of the conflicts between these two men. Indeed, it is clear enough from the history presented in the book itself that there were many important players in this important controversy besides Jefferson and Marshall.
In addition, I was surprised by how much detail the author devoted to the Aaron Burr case.
Overall, as far as historical information goes, this book has a lot to offer; as far as analysis of the struggle to define the nation goes, it seems to be lacking.
This book was quite well written and enjoyable to listen to. Adams was truly a remarkable man. I only have two criticisms of the book. First, when it comes to Adams' presidential term, the coverage seems a little thin. Perhaps this first criticism is related to my second--that the author seems to always try to paint Adams in a sympathetic light(and there were some negative things in Adams' presidency, particularly the Alien and Sedition Acts). Adams was remarkable in many ways, but I feel that to truly understand who he was it is important to look not only at his strengths, but also his shortcomings. To see Adams from another point of view and fill in some historical gaps, I recommend reading or listening to some other historical accounts focused on other founding figures, such as Jefferson and Washington. But I should emphasize that this biography is rich in many details of Adams' life--not only his political life, but his personal as well. In particular, the book does a wonderful job of drawing from Adams' private letters, as well as those of his wife and friends.
As far as the audio reading goes, the reader does a wonderful job. My only disappointment was that there are a few short sections where a female voice comes in and summarizes a section of the book--I assume that this is part of the abridgment, but it was a little annoying. Overall, I enjoyed this book and recommend it.
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