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Doug

St. Louis MO, USA | Member Since 2004

130
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 13 reviews
  • 552 ratings
  • 718 titles in library
  • 30 purchased in 2014
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  • The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World

    • UNABRIDGED (29 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Daniel Yergin
    • Narrated By Robert Petkoff
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (297)
    Performance
    (233)
    Story
    (233)

    A master storyteller as well as a leading energy expert, Yergin shows us how energy is an engine of global political and economic change. It is a story that spans the energies on which our civilization has been built and the new energies that are competing to replace them. From the jammed streets of Beijing to the shores of the Caspian Sea, from the conflicts in the Mideast to Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, Yergin takes us into the decisions that are shaping our future.

    Joshua Kim says: "Best nonfiction book of 2011"
    "Comprehensive, neutral, vivid"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Covers all aspects of our modern energy situation--scientific, technological, environmental, political, economic--in a global narrative history that presents every side of every issue in a fair and straightforward way. Full of compelling stories and fascinating facts.

    This book is foundational for understanding the global economic and political challenges of the 21st century, because every aspect of our modern way of life depends on reliable and sustainable energy.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Michio Kaku
    • Narrated By Marc Vietor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1097)
    Performance
    (630)
    Story
    (622)

    In this thrilling journey into the mysteries of our cosmos, best-selling author Michio Kaku takes us on a dizzying ride to explore black holes and time machines, multidimensional space and, most tantalizing of all, the possibility that parallel universes may lay alongside our own.

    Robert says: "Don't be afraid"
    "Best book on modern physics"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is easily the best book on modern theoretical physics for a general audience. Michio Kaku is remarkably lucid in his presentation of this material which ranges from experimentally established areas like relativity and quantum theory, to the theoretical realms of string theory and M-theory, cosmology, and the anthropic principle. The later parts of the book become highly speculative, almost science fiction in flavor. Through it all, he weaves balanced, multi-sided discussions of what it all means. A terrific, mind expanding book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Housing Boom and Bust

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Thomas Sowell
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (245)
    Performance
    (87)
    Story
    (90)

    There was no single, dramatic event that set the current financial crisis off. A whole series of very questionable decisions by many people, in many places, over a period of years, built up the pressures that led to a sudden collapse of the housing market and of financial institutions that began to fall like dominoes as a result of investing in securities based on housing prices. This book is designed to unravel the tangled threads of that story.

    Adolphe says: "Inciteful Non partisan blame"
    "Excellent but incomplete"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Thomas Sowell does just what you would expect him to--get right at the root problem of the financial crisis with all the important facts, lucid analysis, and clean prose. In that sense, this book is the definitive overview of the genesis and trigger of the 2008 financial crisis.

    On the other hand, I was disappointed that he did not go into the derivative problem--what the finance industry ("Wall Street") engineered out of the underlying fundamental mortgage securities, and the collusive relationship of that end of the industry with Washington DC.

    Whereas Sowell's treatment of the primary phenomenon is outstanding, he seems uninterested in the secondary problem, remarking in passing that if everybody had kept paying their mortgages, there would not have been a problem. In that sense, this book is a missed opportunity for one of the finest minds of our time to fully analyze the financial crisis.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Knowledge and Decisions

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Thomas Sowell
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (49)

    This reissue of Thomas Sowell’s classic study of decision making, which includes a preface by the author, updates his seminal work in the context of The Vision of the Anointed. Sowell, one of America’s most celebrated public intellectuals, describes in concrete detail how knowledge is shared and disseminated throughout modern society. He warns that society suffers from an ever-widening gap between firsthand knowledge and decision making—a gap that threatens not only our economic and political efficiency but our very freedom.

    Doug says: "Thomas Sowell's Greatest Work"
    "Thomas Sowell's Greatest Work"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    IMO, among Thomas Sowell's small library of outstanding contributions, Knowledge and Decisions easily ranks as the finest. This is the 1996 edition, which simply adds a substantial preface to the original 1980 edition as far as I can tell.

    The first half of the book is a brilliant, seminal, and timeless treatment of the nature of knowledge, how it is obtained, validated, transmitted, coordinated and acted upon. Sowell analyzes social, economic, and political structures and institutions in terms of their decision making processes and incentives as opposed to their intentions and hoped for results, and explains in a truly fundamental way how complex societies work.

    The second half of the book examines specific trends and issues in the social, political, economic, and legal arenas. At the time of its publication, this was the current events section. Of course, the world has changed in many profound (and superficial) ways since 1980, so this section today is more historical in nature.

    But since one of the great strengths of Sowell's work is its basis in and exposition of global and world historical experiences and perspectives, section two retains its interest and force, and is an effective reminder of the failures of centralized decision making structures that were viscerally evident a generation ago (especially via communism), but whose implications are largely forgotten today. As the saying goes, those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    All in all, this is a great book that stands the test of time quite easily.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Near-Death Experience and Journey into the Afterlife

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Eben Alexander
    • Narrated By Eben Alexander
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1841)
    Performance
    (1603)
    Story
    (1616)

    On November 10, 2008, Dr. Eben Alexander was driven into coma by a disease so lethal that only 1 in 10,000,000 survive. Seven days later, he awakened with memories of a fantastic odyssey deep into another realm that were more real than this earthly one - memories that included meeting a deceased birth sister he had never known existed. Dr. Alexander deployed all his knowledge as a scientist to find out whether his mind could have played a trick on him. In its shutdown state, there was no way it could have.

    Kelly says: "Compelling"
    "There are more things in heaven and earth,"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    reductionist scientific materialist, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    As someone who has occasionally followed the near death experience literature since encountering Raymond Moody as a teen in the late 1970s, I found this to be by far the most compelling contribution and experience so far. This is because of the author's distinguished career as a neurosurgeon, and his scientific, scholarly approach to assessing the data of his own experience, and then the broader phenomenon of NDE and consciousness.

    Science has become arrogant with the manifest successes of its method, to the point of excluding the possibility of truths not accessible by its techniques. This book provides a compelling counterexample to the materialist zeitgeist, and a more catholic approach to truth.

    In a universe where 96% of what is (dark matter and energy) has never been directly observed (a point whose significance was infused into Alexander during his experience), I am mystified by the confidence of science and scientists and the new atheists in believing that their findings disprove the possibility of meaning or creation or a creator. Alexander points the way to a fuller, and humbler, awareness of reality.

    This is a mind expanding and profoundly moving and important book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Good Derivatives: A Story of Financial and Environmental Innovation

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Richard L. Sandor, Ronald Coase
    • Narrated By Victor Bevine
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Through the eyes of an inventor of new markets, Good Derivatives: A Story of Financial and Environmental Innovation tells the story of how financial innovation – a concept that is misunderstood and under attack - has been a positive force in the last four decades. If properly designed and regulated, these “good derivatives” can open vast possibilities to address a variety of global problems.

    PHIL says: "Listenable, deeply informative, a grand tour"
    "Disappointing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Late in the book, the author describes it as a "personal memoir". That is what it is. I was drawn to the book by the promise of a cogent statement of the workings and economic and social utility of his "good" derivatives, and hoped for a contrast with "bad" derivatives.

    Unfortunately this is not that book, although I am sure the author is eminently qualified to write it. Instead it is a long journey through his life, travels, lunches, and what not. There are innumerable meetings where X is discussed, but seldom a discussion of X.

    I finished not really knowing very much that I did not know at the start about the topic of derivatives, while I learned a lot about Richard Sandor and his role in creating the markets he was involved in.

    The most revealing moment of the book for me occurred when this multi-decade player at the upper reaches of the financial markets goes to Washington late in the last decade and is astonished by its wealth. I guess that's why the governing class is called "public servants".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    Overall
    (1189)
    Performance
    (975)
    Story
    (965)

    We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.

    Teddy says: "Excellent Book All Over"
    "Strong but deeply biased and flawed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Many other reviews highlight this book's strengths, which are considerable, but there is another side. A few of the revealing details:

    1) Pinker's grotesque and malignant caricature of religion in general and Christianity in particular acknowledges no positives whatsoever and exaggerates historical negatives.
    2) He rationalizes abortion as not violence in one part, but treats it as violence in another context where females are disproportionately selected for termination. Well, which is it?
    3) Not one, but two star turns for the odious Peter Singer.
    4) A social science based argument that liberals are smart and conservatives are stupid.

    Over and above these points, the book is almost suffocatingly smug in its aggressive left/progressive/secular/atheist ideology, which is unnecessary for the main point but helps drive its bulk. Arthur Morey's reading superbly conveys this complacence.

    15 of 28 people found this review helpful
  • Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Jared Diamond
    • Narrated By Doug Ordunio
    Overall
    (988)
    Performance
    (778)
    Story
    (785)

    Having done field work in New Guinea for more than 30 years, Jared Diamond presents the geographical and ecological factors that have shaped the modern world. From the viewpoint of an evolutionary biologist, he highlights the broadest movements both literal and conceptual on every continent since the Ice Age, and examines societal advances such as writing, religion, government, and technology.

    Doug says: "Compelling pre-history and emergent history"
    "Compelling pre-history and emergent history"
    Overall

    This is a fascinating and foundational work that takes a topic (for me) shrouded in obscurity (how and why did civilization emerge in the pattern it did around the globe), and provides a vivid, detailed, and substantially convincing explanation. Thanks to GGS, I see world and cultural history with new eyes. That is pretty much the highest praise I can think of for a book.

    I have a personal policy of ignoring (or at least trying to ignore) negative narrator reviews, as I find them always overstated. This reading is on the dry/flat/dull side, but it is still professional. The book is great and one of the most stimulating I have ever listened to. It is dense, but if you don't like fact, analysis, and theory, you wouldn't seek out this sort of book. Extremely highly recommended. It will change the way you see the world.

    20 of 22 people found this review helpful
  • The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Michael J. Behe
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (159)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (71)

    In a tour de force of science and logic, the best-selling author of Darwin's Black Box combines genetics, laboratory results, and mathematics to prove, once and for all, that the universe and life on Earth are designed.

    Doug D. Eigsti says: "Malaria Anyone?"
    "Brilliant and provocative"
    Overall

    Negative reviews elsewhere, by names little and big (e.g. Dawkins), are full of name calling, appeals to authority (authorities who dismiss Behe's argument a priori), irrelevancies, and anger, but nothing that addresses the substance of his case. Behe provides detailed examples and arguments supporting natural selection and common descent. His sole challenge to the reigning dogma is the sufficiency of RANDOM variation to explain the complexity of life as we have come to know it through modern biochemistry and genetics. The howls of Dawkins et al betray a faith in life as a random accident challenged at the foundation.

    25 of 54 people found this review helpful
  • Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By George Weigel
    • Narrated By Sam Tsoutsouvas
    Overall
    (86)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (39)

    Given unprecedented access to Pope John Paul II and the people who have known and worked with him throughout his life, George Weigel presents a groundbreaking portrait of the Pope as a man, a thinker, and a leader whose religious convictions have defined a new approach to world politics and changed the course of history.

    Stephen says: "Outstanding"
    "The best biography of John Paul II"
    Overall

    This is the best book on the greatest man of our time. I give it four stars only because it is abridged. Also it ends around 1998/1999, when it was originally published. I'd love to see an update with the rest of the story, and in an unabridged audio format.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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