As you might expect from Jon Krakauer if you have read his works before, the book is both entertaining and thought-provoking. Once you begin the story, you want to continue listening to the end. The book is well-written, and the narrator does an excellent job of relating the saga. There is some harsh language in a few places, but it does not seem excessive.
I have never read a book on this particular subject before -- that is, what drives a person like McCandless to seek an isolated wilderness experience that is "back to the basics". At times I have also followed the urge to experience the wilderness solo, and I have had a few such minor experiences. However, the book helped me to understand the difference between "the extreme" McCandless and myself. The book identifies McCandless' primary motivators as "youthful enthusiasm" and an "enthrallment with a fantasy image of nature". I would even call it a form of "nature worship". Others (as myself) appreciate nature and love to experience its pleasures and hardships, but our experiences are tempered by reality and wisdom... not immersion in a fantasy.
Anyway, an excellent read. Recommended.
Excellent book! I highly recommend the audio version as it will absorb you into the atmosphere of the New York City event, as well as having the plus of hearing each speaker present his essay in his or her own voice.
I found the book very though-provoking, and so I took some of the chapters slowly. Some I chose to return back and re-read, so I could mentally chew on the points that were being made. I did not agree with everything that each speaker presented -- for example, Peter Kreeft’s belief that Socrates may be in heaven, or Francis Collins’ theistic evolutionary views. However, that’s the point of the essays and Socrates in the City: to take the time to think about these topics and examine them for yourself.
I did see a review or two with comments that the debates in the work were slanted to include more Christian rather than secular thinkers. First, these are not supposed to be debates! There is a difference between a debate format and an essay presented to a gathering with Q&A following it. Second, while most (if not all) speakers were Christian, I thought they were very thorough and they covered the secular perspective fairly and sufficiently. Actually, they presented the secular viewpoints far better than I usually see of secular thinkers who attempt to present the Christian perspective.
Definitely recommended for anyone who wants to expand their thinking on a few major topics of our time. You’ll come back to read this one again.
You can learn a lot from reading about another person’s life. I suppose this is the key reason I enjoy reading biographies of interesting people. However, I think an autobiography is even better because you get a person’s experiences & insights directly from him, rather than risk the errors that could appear in the research of the most careful biographer. An even better situation is if you can get the autobiography in the person’s own voice. Going beyond a telling of the literal facts, someone relating his own stories will add emphasis, drama, comedy and emotion in ways that another narrator will miss. The stories really come to life because he lived it.
This is one of many reasons that makes Gavin’s book special. If you purchase the audiobook version you will hear his first-hand stories that make up his fascinating life in his own recognizable and appealing voice... and you quickly connect with him on what impacted his life on a deeper level.
I can conclusively say that Gavin’s book was the best autobiography / biography that I have read. Once I started, I found it difficult to stop, and that’s always a sign of a good book. Gavin pulls you into his life story and you want to see how he eventually arrived to the parts of his life that are familiar to us.
I won’t provide a summary of Gavin’s life history as you can get this from other reviewers or Internet sites. You may already know that his life story is connected with many well-known people and events in entertainment history, and this is an enjoyable part of his book.
But what I found much more interesting in the book are the “life lessons” that Gavin wants to share with his readers that he has learned from his own experiences. He shares many in the book, and they naturally emerge as he relates his experiences. Like all of us, Gavin has high and low points in his life. In his book he reflects on these joys and regrets, and clearly Gavin desires that other people learn from them.
You also quickly pick up from his book that Gavin loves people, and that people are very important to him. He expresses a lot of delight in connecting with others, and he desires that he connect with you, the reader, as well.
While I saw & enjoyed the movie Timechanger, I missed his movie The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry. From this book I realize I’ve missed a great movie. I will have to get it!
Lastly – I found the book both entertaining and inspiring. The book will take you beyond knowing Gavin as an actor and stage performer, and you will get to know him as a person.
This is a GREAT book and worth 5 stars. I read Wiker’s previous book Ten Books that Screwed Up the World, and I looked forward to any similar work. I was not disappointed. Several times while reading I thought to myself, “I’m loving this!”
Wiker provides an excellent introduction to help us understand how the terms “conservative” and “liberal” have changed over the centuries, lest we jump to the mistaken assumption that yesterday’s liberal is also today’s liberal. (They are not.)
He outlines that he will cover works that provide the foundation of what we call “conservative principles” today. His selection of books achieve this purpose wonderfully. After the first 3 or 4 books, you begin to be able to have the feel of conservatism as a bottom-up, fundamental, and common-sense approach to life… as opposed to liberalism’s top-down Utopian progress toward some dreamy super-society. I could never define conservatism well, but this book made it clear. I also enjoyed that Wiker not only reviewed each book, but provided a brief biography of each author.
His selection of 4 others are definitely worth noting, and I plan to follow up with reading at least one I missed. He is also correct about the impostor Atlas Shrugged, and provided insight into how closely the book’s deceptive views are linked to the miserable, deplorable life of its author Ayn Rand.
The narrator is the same one that provided the reading of Ten Books that Screwed Up The World. He has a distinctly clear voice that has a hint of authority. Well-chosen for this book.
I enjoyed this one so much I will definitely read it again. If you want to investigate your own views about conservatism then consider this book to help you. If you label yourself a liberal, then this book will help you to understand your conservative friends better.
Maybe, if I knew there was less foul language
Clear and kept you engaged
Good book on famous event that occurred on Half-Dome. It also includes some excellent background information on lightning, a brief history of Yosemite and Half-Dome, and climbing.
While reading you can sense that disaster was coming even if it did not know the eventual outcome. You think, “How can people be this reckless?” Clearly in this case thrill-seeking and ego took over their better judgment, and it cost people their lives. The courage and quick action of the would-be rescuers in an overwhelming situation also helps you better understand the challenges these everyday heroes face and you are grateful for such people who overcome the odds to save others.
Overall I liked the storytelling and the background, and you develop empathy for everyone involved. My only negative was that it included significant foul language, and this distracted from the enjoyment of the narrative. It was the reason I gave it a lower rating.
Overall a good story of Jim's tragic account during a climb on Mount Rainier, and the circumstances he had to overcome to survive (although his friend Mike did not). I found it informative and contemplative, and wondered how I would have handled it if faced with a similar situation.
There were some parts of the book which I thought were far longer than they needed to be. His account of climbing out of the crevasse seemed to take a long, long time to describe. Also the end of the book (after being rescued) also seemed unnecessarily long. You would think the book would end, but it kept going. (For example, it went into lengthy descriptions of Jim's dealing with the tragedy, which included more details about Buddhist ceremonies than I wanted to know). At these parts the story dragged and I found myself wishing it would skip over some details and would move on.
Overall, still a good book that I would recommend to anyone who would like to learn from a true survival story.
Loved the book. I love adventure stories based on real-life adventures, and if you have a similar taste you will want to read this book.
The focus is not only on the legendary lost city of Z, but on the mystery surrounding Percy Fawcett who disappeared in the Amazon without a trace in 1925. The book provides a lot of historical background of the times and about the men who took on the challenge. The book is well-researched and you want to continue reading to see how it will end.
A comprehensive biography of the enigma that was Howard Hughes. It is well-written and the narrator in the audiobook is very adept at imitating the voice of HRH.
The book causes you to think about the man that much of America once admired, and before long you realize he had a deplorable secret life that thought little of other people except for what he could get from them and how he could control them. It's a sad commentary that for all his wealth and hard work, he descended into an obsessive madness in the last years of his life. I found myself having pity for him, and thinking of how his life could have been so very different.
I do recommend this book for anyone who enjoys biographies and anyone who has even a slight interest in the life of Mr. Hughes
This is a balanced review of the life and work of Charles Darwin. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and found it provided much more insight than other attempts. Often Darwin is either idolized or demonized, depending on where you stand on your own personal beliefs about evolution. This book strives to be neither, but to evaluate the truth of his life regardless of which position you hold. It respects the man while the core problems of the theory are presented.
For example, similar works include co-credit to Alfred Wallace for early work on evolution, such as Simon Winchester's Krakatoa. However, Winchester's book omits the later fact of Wallace's objection to Darwin's evolutionary view after The Origin of Species was published. (Indeed, Winchester's chronicle of Wallace is rather romanticized.) Wallace noted the major problems with evolution that Darwin was glossing over and failing to adequately answer. However, this book does an excellent job of not only recounting this, but also the fact that several of Darwin's earlier supporters publicly countered his work by acknowledging it could not provide answers to some very basic observations of life. There are many other lesser-known examples of this type of information included.
It's definitely a book I will read again. I recommend it for anyone interested in the history of the theory of evolution or its well-known champion.
Many reviewers have done an excellent job reviewing this book, so I do not need to repeat a lot of what has already been said. It’s an eye-opening book worth your time for all the reasons given by other reviewers.
The one comment I can make that is either not mentioned or it received scarce attention is the amount of swearing and harsh “gutter language” used in the book. It seems excessive and that hardly 5 minutes can go by without at least one off-color word being used. Often I found this distracting from the story. The impression you get is that even if there was no doping going on, many professional cyclists are foul-mouthed jerks. Probably not the case, but that’s the impression you receive from the book.
This would be a great book of hard life lessons to share with youth except that the excessive language disqualifies it. Definitely do not listen with the younger family members. Use of gutter language is what separates a good book from a great book, and it’s the only reason I give it 3 stars instead of 4.
I liked the book, but it was not what I expected. From the title I thought it may be mostly about rogue waves, with the science and history about them. It did include this, but a lot of the book (maybe 40-50%) also included information & a focus on people who surf monster waves. The subtitle should probably be called, “In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean, and the Psychology of the Surfers Who Ride Them.”
Not that surfing is bad at all. If you are into surfing, you will absolutely love this book. However it was not what I thought the book would be. Granted the book description mentions surfing, but I did not think that a large amount of the book’s material would be devoted to it. At times the book’s focus was on the surfers and what they think, not on the waves themselves.
Occasionally I would get so bored about hearing about surfers and surfing, I would think, “Are we doing this again?!?” So I would skip ahead looking for when the author would again return to the study of freak waves worldwide and their impact.
Also in a few places some vulgar language is used. I know authors want to portray the "real world", but in my opinion the quality of a book goes down when an author can find no better way for expression. Definitely not one to listen to if you have some children around, such as riding with the family on a trip.
So I give the book a lower rating than most because of this. A surfer would give this book 5 stars.
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